Muhammad Haniff Hassan © July 2007

Recent developments in Singapore’s banking industry have provided much food for thought. It was triggered by OCBC’s takeover bid for Keppel Capital Limited, a major shareholder in Keppel-Tat Lee Bank. If the bid went through, OCBC would have raised its ranking among both local and regional banks. In retaliation, DBS made a surprise takeover bid for OUB’s shares a few days later. This was challenged by UOB’s offer for a merger with OUB.

No doubt a lot of wheeling and dealing went unreported in the media. Nevertheless, this whole episode and its ensuing drama holds several issues for those in the da’wah movement to ponder and reflect. Among them:

1. The ability to make quick decisions
2. The ability to respond to external changes
3. The state of readiness of an organisation
4. The leadership’s abilities to effect all of the above

What can we learn from their strategies of the various players at stake? Speed! The banks had to react swiftly with plans and counter-plans against their competitors and the changing playing field. They had to be sure that their organisations were up for the challenges.

Quick decision-making process is something that any organisation needs to adopt to keep ahead. Failure in implementing such a strategy would mean a missed opportunity, benefit for others, being left behind and eventually an early demise. When we apply this to the da’wah movement, we could lose opportunities, be left behind and possibly become irrelevant, hence benefiting the jahiliyyah.

Today’s world is a series of evolution and intense competition that is not restricted to the economic and business arena. The da’wah environment is facing the same challenge as well.

Unfortunately many of us are unaware of this change whether due to ignorance, naiveté or total disregard. The changes in our environment today are in fact critical factors in the battle between truth and falsehood. In many instances those who stand for truth are often slow, late or static in reacting to these changes.

Often the decision-making process in da’wah organisations are inconsistent with the challenges of their changing environment. The decision-making process is still being monopolised by a management committee that meets only once a month, a committee that is tied down by bureaucratic requirements such as reaching the quorum and an obsolete constitution. Any matters that surfaced after the monthly meeting can only be dealt with the following month. Often the organisation is also besiege by politicking and disagreements that inhibits the smooth flow of meetings and decision making processes.

As a whole da’wah organisations are mainly led by volunteers. Hence efforts to have them altogether are never easy to the point that getting an authorised signature requires a lot of effort. Such factors can be inhibiting in decision-making processes – a major set back for such organisations.

With such modus operandi, one wonders how the defenders of the truth are going to trounce the advocators of falsehood.

It’s time to learn from those bankers boys. In order to move ahead, each was willing to form mergers and acquisitions. This is the culture in the business world, essential in the larger global market. This is what our various da’wah organisations need to adopt as well in order to meet their objective.

Sadly, in the arena of da’wah, ‘merger and acquisition’ is still a dream. Worst still, it is a ‘nightmare’ for some individuals.