Archive for the ‘Healthcare’ Category

A meeting of minds

April 14, 2007

Siva, Ponniah, Kohila, Hatta, Nasir and Nizar at the forum organised by Jerit (Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas). They spoke against the unjust neo-liberalism.

Several representatives of various coalitions ( water, health care, toll and fuel hikes, FTAs, human rights and environment activists) gathered at the S&KLCAH to discuss about how NGOs and political parties in the country could work together more cohesively and effectively  for the common good of the Malaysian people.

We have decided to meet more regularly to exchange views and to strengthen our coordination and cooperation.

I have suggested that all political parties and NGOs should bring their issues to Ijok. We should take the opportunity provided by the by-election to highlight various important and burning issues facing the rakyat and convince the Ijok people to vote against the Umno-led BN government.

On the other hand, the 6th toll hike demo which was scheduled on 22 April has been postponed in view of the impending Ijok by-election.

I aslo stressed on the need to adopt  “agree to disagree” as a guiding principle for greater cooperation among the different organisations in order to challenge the hegemony of Umno. Only a cohesive alternative movement could challenge the mighty, arrogant and powerful Umno-led government.

The time has come for real changes but time is not on our side. We must unite to fight the common enemy instead of messing up among ourselves. And we must not allow Umno the chance and space to consolidate after the next general elections.

Dr Kumar: Health Care Model neo-liberal to the core

March 31, 2007

Health Financing Reform

The Consultant’s Interim Report 

Dr Kumar of PSM (right bottom) has been in the forefront of the struggle for a just public health care system for all Malaysians. He has a strong view on the Consultant’s Interim Report – Health Financing Reform. Please take to time to read his in-depth report.

 

 

The study commissioned by the EPU and the Ministry of Health with financial sponsorship from the UNDP appears to progressing on schedule. An Interim Report was released in August 2006, and another updated 250* page Interim Report was released in February 2007. There have also been meetings of a “Steering Committee” which has representatives from the Doctors Associations, the Insurance Association, the Association of Private Hospitals and other bodies. Sadly, the government has not seen it necessary to invite any of the consumer bodies in the country to sit on this committee. Neither have health advocacy groups such the Citizens Health Initiative or the GMPPK (Coalition Against the Privatisation of health Care) been invited, although the latter has been most pro-active in presenting ideas regarding Health Care Reform. The Final Report is expected in May 2007.

 

What is the thrust of the Consultant’s recommendations? Will the recommendations lead to an amelioration of the problems besetting our Health Care System? Or do we have cause to be worried?

The Consultant’s Main Recommendations 

The Consultant, Karl Karol from Australia, has done a thorough review of the various studies and surveys that have been done prior to this, and to his credit, has summarized the major findings of these previous studies clearly. However he has then has gone on to endorse the Government’s conception of the future Health Care Model for Malaysia, with only a few minor refinements. The main features of the model being proposed are neo-liberal to the core in that

         the funding for health care is to be from the people and not from general taxation;.

         government hospitals are to be corporatised so that they will function like companies, so that they may be rendered more efficient through market discipline;

         there will be integration of the primary care sector, the government hospitals and the private hospitals under this scheme;

         the “internal market”, financial incentives and the profit motive shall be the main driver of the system;

The diagram below summarises the main features of the model proposed by the consultant.

Health Financing Model; The Consultant’s Proposal 


 

 

 

 

 

 

The main features of the Health Financing Model proposed by the Consultant are

1. A National Health Financing Fund that will be owned by and controlled by the government through the “National Health Financing Authority” that will be set up by Parliament.

2. This Fund will receive income from an “ear-marked” VAT (Value Added Tax or GST). It may also receive some input from General Taxation especially in the initial period.

3. The National Health Fund will pay for all treatment of the illnesses listed under the Essential Health Care Benefit (EHBP) with the proviso that the patients must first go to the GP he is designated to. If Specialist Referral or Hospital admission is required it must be done by the patient’s GP. The fund will not pay up if the patient by-passes the GP and goes straight to the specialist or hospital himself.

4. All GPs in the country will be brought under the scheme, and they will all be allocated a certain number of patients. The GPs will be paid a capitation sum based on the number of patients registered under them. They will get the same income per patient whether the patient comes to their clinic 10 times in a year or not at all. They have to treat the patients registered under them for free.

5. Government Hospitals will no longer get an annual budget. They will be paid by the amount of clinical service they provide. All illnesses listed in the EHBP will be classified as Diagnosis Related Groups (DRGs). Each DRG will be rewarded a certain payment that will be specified in the EHBP. For example, treatment for Appendicitis may be RM 1000, and this will be irrespective of whether there are any complications or the length of the hospital stay. APrivate
Hospital that handles an appendix case will also get the same payment from the National Health Fund. The idea is that this competition with Private Hospitals will help make Government Hospitals “leaner” and more “efficient”.

5(b) To prevent over investigation and treatment by the Specialists, the Model envisages that the GPs will become “Fund Managers” for the initial part of specialist care for the patients registered under them. In other words each GP will be given a fund for referring patients to specialists. If they stay within their budget, the GP will get a hefty bonus. If the GP exceeds this referral budget, he may face a financial penalty! The purpose of this mechanism is to make GPs efficient Gate-Keepers and to prevent abuse of the system by both patients and the specialists!

6. Private Insurance will be allowed for illnesses that are not covered by the EHBP as well as to cover specialist costs that are not through the proper GP referral system.

GMPPK Critique 

The GMPPK is strongly against several aspects of the Health System Model proposed by the Consultant. Our reasons are –

A. The GST is a regressive tax. 

Income distribution in Malaysia is getting increasingly skewed in favour of the rich in all communities. At present the richest 20% of the population get more than 50% of the National income whereas the bottom 40% only gets 12.5%. A GST would further worsen the situation because a GST burdens the poor proportionately more.

 

Table One: Impact of GST of 10%

Economic Class

% of Income spent

% of income invested or saved

% of income taxed by GST

Richest 10%

40%

60%

4%

Poorest 40 %

90%

10%

9%

Poorest 10%

130%

13%

As illustrated in the table above, a GST would widen the income gap between the rich and the poor.

 

The GMPPK therefore calls for

         no new taxes on ordinary citizens;         Increase of the health allocation from the current 2% of GDP to at least 3%.         Siphon RM 5 billion from Petronas profits to the Health Budget every year. (Petronas profits were some RM 80 billion in 2006)         Channel a portion of the RM 2 billion worth of levy collected from foreign workers to the Health Budget and give all foreign workers subsidized health care at the same charges as Malaysian citizens;         Stop all out-sourcing or privatization of health care delivery.   

B. Using the National Health Fund to subsidise treatment in Private Hospitals will aggravate the Brain Drain.  

            Table Two: Distribution of Specialists in Malaysia 1999

 

                                 

Table Two above highlights one of the key problems affecting the Public Health Sector now – the depletion of the specialist pool who are drawn to the private hospitals which are able to offer incomes that 5 to 10 times higher than the government sector. Using the National Health Fund to subsidise treatment in Private Hospitals will expand the market as now more patients can afford going to the private sector. This will aggravate the brain drain and might lead to the collapse of the public hospitals.  

However we must not forget the crucial role of the Public Sector in the over-all health system

         not only does it now cater for 70% of the in-patient load in
Malaysia;

         it is the training ground for housemen, junior specialists as well as paramedical staff;

         the distribution of government hospitals is much wider and much more equitable compared to Private Hospitals;

         Treatment costs are much cheaper because staff are salaried and not paid fee-for–service as in the private sector.

The GMPPK therefore calls for

         using the 60% increase in funding to rehabilitate the Public health sector;         setting up of a separate Service Commission for the Public Health Sector staff.         A Moratorium on building or expanding the Private Hospitals.         Shelving of Health tourism. 

C. Creating financial disincentives to discourage consultation/referral by the Family GP 

The GMPPK agrees that good Primary Health Care will help cut over-all costs and that patients should be encouraged to seek treatment with family doctors first before going to  specialists. However the creation of “fund-holding” mechanisms and financial penalties for referring too many patients will undermine the patient-doctor relationship and may lead to delays in referral.

“Homo Economicus” : Over-Reliance on Economic Incentives. 

There is an over-emphasis on economic incentives and “market discipline” in the model proposed by Mr Karl Karol. This appears to be based on the following beliefs which are shared by neo-liberal economists and planners

         People respond best to monetary incentives.

         Ordinary men and women pursuing their self-interest in maximizing earnings will result in the efficient delivery of a public good, in this case Health Care.

         The role of government in society should be reduced for it impairs the allocative efficiency of the free-market.

         A corporatised government hospital operating like a private company will perform more efficiently than centrally funded government hospitals that exist now.

         Creating an “internal market” within the health care system will help allocate resources in a more efficient manner, and will lead to better output.

However in the consultant’s own report there is an awareness that relying on financial incentives and market mechanisms will make the main players more money minded. This in turn may lead to abuse and over-use of the system. Therefore there is a need to create safeguards. For example, the proposal that GPs should become “fund-holders’ for specialist treatment rises out of an explicitly stated perception that specialists will otherwise over-investigate and over-treat!

To counter these perceptions the GMPPK would like to point out that

1. Doctors and other health staff have been working sincerely in the public hospitals for the past 50 years and more. Many doctors and other health staff work past their official hours as they want to get the job done. Financial reward is not the only motivation for work. People take pride in their work, in improving their skill and competence, and in solving problems. Peer recognition and patient satisfaction are also important incentives. Of course people like to get a decent income, and the GMPPK wants a review of the pay-scales for public sector health staff. But this is far removed from the consultant’s thrust to revamp the entire system to make it run on the financial incentive alone.

2. The Public Health care System in
Malaysia has performed fairly well up till now. We have achieved a reasonably high of health care at fairly low costs – 2% of GDP is really very good – compared to 9.8% of the GDP in the UK and 14.5% of GDP in the
US! The weaknesses that have developed in the welfarist model were not internal to the model, but were brought on by the promotion of for-profit private hospitals on a large scale since the 1980’s. This is what led to the exodus of experienced specialists and trained staff from the public sector, and this is the main cause of the perception that treatment in government hospitals is inferior to that in the private sector. It is indeed ironic that free-market solutions are being suggested to solve problems that arose in the first instance from the implementation of free-market policies in the health care sector 25 years ago!

3. Health care is a “merit good”. The medical treatment of an individual leads to benefit for the community through

– decreasing the risk of transmission in the case of infections;

– decreasing the dependency ratio by getting the individual back on his feet;

– reinforcing a sense of social solidarity through sharing the risks associated with ill-health.

For the above reasons the GMPPK proposes the following –

1. It is the responsibility of the Government to ensure that all citizens and other residents of
Malaysia have equitable access to safe and adequate health care. No one must be denied proper care because of lack of means.
 2. The Government Health Budget must be increased to 3% of the GDP. Currently it is barely 2%. This increase should come from General Taxation as well as from Petronas Revenue. There should not be any GST or Special Pay-roll taxes to supplement the Health Budget as such taxes are not appropriate given the deterioration in the Malaysian Gini Coefficient.  3. The Public Health Care System must be strengthened as it is both cost-effective and equitably distributed. The measures that the Government should implement to achieve this area/ Set up a separate Service Commission for Health Personnel so that they remuneration can be improved.b/ Allocate a larger budget to offset co-payments that are now being borne by patients, the degree of subsidy depending on the economic status of the patient. c/ Freeze the development of Private Hospitals – Do not permit the setting up of any more new private hospitals and control the expansion of the existing hospitals.d/ Do not promote Health Tourism. The main focus of our health sector should be to cater to the health needs of our population, and not to bring in foreign exchange. e/ Implement schemes whereby the expertise in the Private Sector is drawn to teach the young doctors and other paramedical staff.    4. A team of independent academicians should be set up to evaluate the cost effectiveness of the privatization exercises involving the Public Health Sector. The findings of this team should be made available to the Malaysian Public so that we can make an informed decision whether we wish to have any further privatization of the Health Services in this country. 5. Until such time the above study is released to the Public, there must be a strict Moratorium on all further privatization and/or “outsourcing” of components of the Public Health Care Sector. 6. A National Health Financing Over-sight Committee must be set up to ensure that the funds allocated to Health Care are properly utilized. Adequate funds should be made available for this committee to perform its watch-dog function effectively. The SUHAKAM model of staffing and funding can be considered, but at least 50% of the members of this committee should be elected by the public. It should be mandatory that Parliament allocates time to debate the annual report of this committee.  7. The Health Status of the 2 million foreign workers in
Malaysia should be of concern to us all. The Government must reverse the current policy of charging these patients higher rates when they come to government health facilities, as this will lead to delays in diagnosis and treatment. A portion of the RM 2 billion levy collected from foreign workers should be channeled to the Public Health Sector, and foreign workers should be charged no more than our citizens. 
  8. Any future reform of the Public Health Care System must only be undertaken after informing and getting the feed-back of the Malaysian public. 

 

 

Jeyakumar Devaraj

30/3/07

Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj is the secretary of the Coalition Against the Privatisation of Health Services.

NO to privitasation of public health care system

March 26, 2007

Health Minister Dr Chua Soi Lek is a typical MCA politician. He refuses to meet the Coalition and keeps all the interim reports away from the NGOs. He is even thinking about privatising the ambulance service in Malaysia. Public health care under his leadership is very worrying. Malaysians must act together to prevent the system from being destroyed by such politician.

—————————————————————————-

Forum on Health Care Financing

“No” to any more new taxes on the rakyat!

“No” to any measures that will weaken the Government Hospitals further!

“No” to schemes that penalize GP’s for referring patients to Specialists.

“Yes!” A separate Health Commission for Health Care Personnel so that their pay scales can be improved.

“Yes!” Government allocation to health should be increased from RM 10 billion per year which is 2% of GDP, to at least RM 16 billion.

“Yes!” There should be a Moratorium on the setting up of any more Private Hospitals.

 

These were some of the decisions that emanated from the Forum on Health Financing Reform held today 25/3/07 at the Univ. Malaya, Post Graduate Centre Auditorium.

A Consultant, Mr Karl Karol, was appointed in June 2006 to plan Health Financing Reform for Malaysia. Although he has come up with 2 Interim Reports, neither of these have been released to any Consumer Group nor to the GMPPK. They have been chopped “sulit” and kept from public eye. The Final Report is due in April 2007, but still the Malaysian Public has not been given any idea as to the direction of the proposed changes.

It is for this reason that FOMCA, the GMPPK (Coalition Against the Privatisation of Health Services) and the UM General Staff Union decided that the issues being discussed by the Consultant and the Malaysian Government should be exposed to the Malaysian Public.

Although the Ministry of Health and the EPU declined to participate in this Forum, the GMPPK defied the OSA and presented a detailed analysis of the 200 page Interim Report that was submitted by the Consultant in February 2007

As Dr Subra, the GMPPK Chairman said, ” This not about building a nuclear bomb. This is about a basic need, and the public has the right to have a say!”  

The 90 odd participants who attended this Forum were disturbed to hear that the Consultant is proposing a slate of neo-liberal measures and mechanisms. An ear-marked VAT (GST) is to be implemented to raise money for the National Health Fund which will then pay for treatment in both Government and in Private Hospitals. All government hospitals are to be corporatised so that they will behave like efficient businesses. Patients can only access the system through their designated GP. If they bypass their GP they will have to meet the costs themselves. Over use of the facilities will be curtailed by penalising the GPs who refer more than their quota!

The speakers, Ms Indrani (FOMCA), Dato Dr Toh Kin Woon (Penang State EXCO), Dr Subramaniam (GMPPK/Aliran) and Dr Kumar (GMPPK/PSM) stressed that Malaysia had a good and efficient health care system up till the 1980’s. The promotion of private hospitals after 1980 led to a severe brain drain such that at present only 30% of the specialists in the country are in government service, although 70% of inpatients still are admitted to government hospitals. Privatisation of pharmaceutical procurement and the 5 support services are among the main causes of rising costs.  

  

The implementation of neo-liberal measures have created the current problems in our health care system ,” Dr Kumar declared. “Now the Consultant is proposing even more neo-liberal changes claiming that these will correct the harm done by the first batch of neo-liberal changes!”

Dr Toh explained that health, like education, is a “merit good” – the benefit of which goes far beyond just the immediate consumer of that good. It has to be delivered by the government and not by for-profit businesses.  

Many questions and ideas came up from the audience at discussion time. Kiren (CAP) felt that the government should be more open, and that the private sector should be controlled. Dr Chan Chee Khoon (Citizen Health Initiative) pointed out that the biggest 2 private hospital chains are controlled by government through the Johor SEDC and Khazanah. What is the role of government he asked.

Dr Rafael, a visitor from Puerto Rica, shared how neo-liberal measures like the ones in the Consultants Report have wrecked the Health Care System in his country and urged us to be vigilant. Dato Dr McCoy (Former President of the MMA) said that the root of the problem is the collapse of the Soviet Union and the discreditation of Socialism. The problem the whole world is facing is unfettered American Capitalism that has become arrogant as there is no longer any Socialist opposition. He argued that corporate tax in Malaysia is far too low, and that government should increase corporate tax if it needed more funds.

The consensus was that it is important that we act together to save our Health Care System. We need to take the message to our friends and families. Only by working together can we safeguard our health.

———————————————————————————————————

by Dr Kumar (PSM)

It’s not right to ban fast food advertising

February 23, 2007
In my tele-interview with Malaysiakini, I predicted that the authority would soon realise that they have no basis to ban fast food advertising in this country. To begin with, it would be very difficult for both Zam and Chua Soi Lek to prove that fast foods were unhealthy or lack of nutritional values. And moreover, if the reason for the banning of fast food advertisements was to take care of the wellness of the people, will the government also start to extend the ban to food and beverages such as soft drinks, coffee and tea, sweets and candies, tit-bits, instant noodles, potato chips and prawn crackers? There is really no end to it.

The Ministry of information and the Ministry of Health should not make any decisions before a proper consultation with the representatives of the food and beverages and the advertising industries. They should know that any drastic actions may dampen the already sluggish market and hurt the national economy in the long run.

Malaysiakini has the story…

禁播快餐广告剥夺人民选择权
广告人预言禁令最终不了了之

实习记者刘国伟
07年2月23日 晚上10:09
调整字体大小:
大马国营电视台宣布立即停止快餐广告播出的决定,除了使到国内数个快餐公司及商家感到十分震惊之外,也遭到评论人及广告业者的强烈批评。根据报章报道,新闻部长再努丁已决定在大马国营电视台抽起快餐广告,以便能鼓励市民拥有更健康的生活习惯。

傅向红:家长式管理不信任人民

对此,时评人傅向红(右图)认为政府以家长式的管理方式来禁止快餐广告的播放是在剥削人民的选择权力。
 
“其实此举也影射政府当人民是傻瓜,需要政府替人民做出选择,这样下去的话,久而久之,人民就算不傻也变傻”

她补充说,此举也证明政府不相信人民有能力做明智的选择。

也是新纪元学院媒体系讲师的傅向红表示,政府禁止快餐广告的播放也如同违反了资讯传播的自由,只会让人民无法独立思考。

“我觉得政府应该花钱去制作宣传短片,让更多人知道了解身体健康的重要性,劝导人民少吃快餐,而非禁止快餐广告的播放”

因此,她认为从教育着手,灌输国人良好的营养吸收知识才是更明智的做法。

刘天球:外国没有禁播快餐先例

在广告界服务超过20年的刘天球(左图)也指出,外国政府只有禁止赌博广告播放的情况,并没有禁止快餐广告播放的先例。

“零食多吃也对身体不健康,那我们是不是也要依样画葫芦,禁止零食广告的播放呢?而且快餐广告只是呈现自己的特性而已,并没叫人民多吃。”

他也认同傅向红有关健康饮食应从教育人民开始的做法,并强调禁止快餐广告的播放对快餐业者不公平。

“我们需要一份完整及详细的报告去证实快餐对于人民是不健康的,而且还要清楚知道是那种类型的快餐。”

刘天球表示此举除了违反商业自由之外,也将破坏我国的经济。

“禁止快餐广告的播放不止影响我国的广告业,也影响到快餐业者的产品销售。同时,我国的自由开放的市场也将会开倒车”

预言禁止播放措施最终不了了之

日前在报章上,卫生部长蔡细历(右图)也表示,该部将向内阁建议,禁止所有快餐的广告,并形容它为“无声的杀手”。

蔡细历更说,许多疾病是由于生活方式及饮食习惯不健康所致。其中,快餐内的盐、糖及脂肪含量,远远超出身体所需,导致肥胖问题产生,也造成糖尿病、肾病、心脏病及高血压等病例不断攀高。

对此,也是天球创意坊创意总监的刘天球表示,卫生部长蔡细历禁止快餐业者在媒体刊登广告的言论犹如外行人看内行事,并扬言前者将无法禁止快餐广告的播放,最后将会变成不了了之的局面。

“虽然蔡细历的出发点对的,但是他根本无法证明所有的快餐都是危害人民的健康,所以我相信整件事情到最后的时候,他一定会打退堂鼓。”

刘天球也批评蔡细历此举过于操之过急,并希望卫生部向快餐业者、非政府组织及消费人学会等讨论后再下定论。

“市面上有形形色色的快餐,他(蔡细历)也不能一竹竿打翻整船人,难道汽水、汉堡包和面包也对身体有害吗?”

另一方面,营养师也曾分析说,虽然快餐含高油量(油炸食物),但是华人传统熟食也并非十分健康。

大马麦当劳与肯德基公司发言人在接受马新社访问时指出,他们双方的领导层将尽快召开会议讨论有关课题,并将针对有关会议的结果发表文告。

与此同时,大马雀巢公司发言人的文告表示,该公司尚未受到任何来自新闻部或电视台抽起该公司快熟面广告播出的通知。

该公司发言人也对此课题不愿置评,更表示尚未确定快熟面是否属于快餐产品。但是该公司将向有关单位确定禁止快熟面广告播出的详情。

另外,另一间也是出产快熟面的公司Mamee Double-Decker发言人米尼哈新指出,该公司也尚在等待新闻部对有关课题的进一步通知。

米尼哈也对此宣布及快餐被标旁不健康的饮食文化感到遗憾,不过他将遵守政府进一步的指示。

Free Trade Agreement:We need your time and action on 3 Jan 2007.

December 28, 2006

 The NGOs in Malaysia were very busy and often bogged down by too many burning issues at hands thanks to weak leadership of this man on the left. We were forced to spend our limited resources, energy and time on campaigning against numerous Umno-led Barisan Nasional government policies and privatisation projects concerning the rights and wellbeing of the rakyat…incinerator in water catchment area, illegal high-tension transmission towers in residental areas, unequal treatment of mother-tongue education, press freedom, freedom of religion, judiciary and police reforms, privatisation (read price increase) of water, healthcare, tolls, fuels…and now FTAs.

On the surface, bilateral FTAs are fair and square to the two nations committed to the agreement. Both countries can buy and sell whatever products and services between them on the same set of rules and conditions. It’s a level playing field so to speak. But the problem lies in the unequal strength of the two countries. Just like a 5 footer with a body weight of 60 kg has to fight with a 6 footer of150kg in the boxing ring. Yes, they both have to compete under the same set of rules and conditions. But even a child can tell you that such a fight is lopsided and unfair to the weaker opponent.

In theory, Malaysia can sell our computers and sofwares to the Americans. The Amricans , like wise, can sell their computers and softwares to Malaysians. But what kind of computers and softwares we could offer to the consumers in America? If we allow government procurement to be free up, is there a Malaysian company that can compete with the US giants, whether in the US or back home?

The minute we enter FTA with America, Malaysians would not be allowed to buy generic drugs anymore.Can our patients here afford to buy the patented drugs which were much more expensive?

Many countries  have suffered badly after entering FTA with US. Mexico, Australia, Latin America and Singapore, just to name a few. For instance, some 2 million farmers in Mexico lost their jobs because they could not compete with the American farmers.

So, we need AAB to gives us a report on the pros and cons of entering FTA with America. Malaysians have a right to know how much we will gain and how much we will lose if we sign the FTA. We will then decide whether we should support or reject the FTAs. That’s in the interest of all Malaysians and the Umnio-led BN Government has no right to keep us in the dark before signing the FTA with America.

The AAB administration must be condemed for signing a lopsided FTA with Japan quietly without consultation with the rakyat and the Parliamentarians. They now wanted to rush into agreement with the US, again without consultation with the rakyat and the Parliamentarians. Minister Rafidah Aziz has not bothered to respond to the coalition of NGOs despite of numerous requests for meeting and dialogue.

Here’s a campaign which need your participation. Your participation will certainly make a difference.

GABUNGAN RAKYAT MEMBANTAH FTA US-MALAYSIA

www.jerit.org  

Dear Friends of NGO, Community Organizations and Concerned Individuals The Malaysia -US Free Trade Agreement talks  is proceeding to the 4th round of negotiations, which will take place from the 8th -12 January 2007 in San Francisco US.

Despite numerous letters and memorandums sent on our concerns, the government has not addressed our concerns. The government is just pushing through the talks very fast without getting feedback from the civil society, unions, NGOs, parliament members and the people of Malaysia.

In this process, the Malaysian citizens or the parliament are not aware what is being negotiated and what we are trading off. We are not even sure whether they have done their cost and benefit analysis as they claim to have done and what is the outcome.

If the FTA is signed next year, Malaysians are going to face more economic problems, increase in medicine prices, job losses, local industry unable to compete with US companies and the list goes on. (To know more: www.ftamalaysia.org)  

Thus in order to intensify our campaign and also to pressure the government to stop and listen to us, a NATIONWIDE FAXING CAMPAIGN is being planned on the 3rd of January, 2007 

The Coalition Against FTA is urging all NGOs, community organizations and concerned citizens to fax in their protest letters against the Malaysia-US FTA on the  3rd January 2007 to the Prime Minister’s office and Dato’ Rafidah’s office. Fax in as many protest letters as you can, if possible please get each member of your organization to fax in the protest letter to the PM’s office and Dato’ Rafidah’s office. A sample letter has been included for your reference.  

Details of the campaign:  Date: 3rd January 2007 Time: 8am-5pm  

We in the coalition hope that you will give full support for this campaign.

Let’s JOIN FORCES TO OPPOSE THE MALAYSIA-US FTA which is going to TRADE AWAY OUR LIVES AND RIGHTS.   If you have further inquiries please call Kohila: 0192275982. Please mail us a copy of yr protest letter to jerit2002@gmail.com  Thank you.  

Kohila

Gabungan Rakyat Membantah FTA US-Malaysia     

Sample letter of protest  

Letter Head Organisasi 

Y.A.B. Dato’ Seri Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi        

Perdana Menteri Malaysia                                      

Pejabat Perdana Menteri,                                        

 Blok Utama, Bangunan Perdana Putra,                             

 Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan,                       

62502 Putrajaya                                                        

No Faks: 03-8888 3444                                                        

Y.B. Dato’ Seri Rafidah binti Abd. Aziz

Menteri Perdagangan Antarabangsa & IndustriKementerian Perdagangan Antarabangsa

Tingkat 14, Blok 10Kompleks Pejabat Kerajaan, Jalan Duta,50622 Kuala LumpurNo Faks: 03-6201 2301 

HENTIKAN RUNDINGAN US-MALAYSIA FTA DENGAN SEGERA  

Kami/Saya _______________ dari _________________________ ingin menyuarakan bantahan   kami terhadap tindakan Kementerian Perdagangan   Antarabangsa dan Industri yang akan meneruskan rundingan Perjanjian Perdagangan Bebas , Amerika Syarikat – Malaysia( US-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement) yang akan berlangsung pada 8hb Januari hingga 12hb.Januari ,2007,  di San Francisco, US.  Pada 8 Mac, 2006, Kerajaan Malaysia dan Amerika Syarikat mengumumkan niat untuk memulakan rundingan perjanjian perdagangan bebas dua hala (FTA)..

Kami berpendapat rundingan ini dijalankan secara  gesa-gesa demi menyelesaikan rundingan secepat mungkin, untuk mengambil kesempatan “fast track authority” Presiden US yang akan berakhir pada pertengahan 2007.   Kami menyedari bahawa skop rundingan meliputi banyak sektor yang amat penting kepada rakyat Malaysia yang boleh memberikan kesan terhadap pekerjaan dan jaminan keselamatan makanan, akses terhadap ubatan yang lebih murah, ketahanan industri domestik dan penyedia perkhidmatan, daya maju firma dan ladang kecil dan seterusnya kedaulatan negara.   Kami amat terkejut apabila mendapati bahawa rundingan penting seperti ini dijalankan dalam keadaan paling tidak demokratik dan tidak telus. Tidak terdapat penelitian Parlimen terhadap apa yang dipersetujui, walaupun dasar dan undang-undang sedia ada ditukar atau diubah suai untuk memenuhi kehendak Amerika Syarikat. Begitu juga tidak terdapat ruang untuk penyertaan atau maklum balas awam dalam proses ini walaupun kehidupan rakyat biasa akan terjejas. Ini juga bertentangan dengan komitmen kerajaan pada masa ini untuk ketelusan dan akauntabiliti. 

Kami juga menyedari bahawa terdapat bantahan di seluruh dunia berhubung dengan FTA Amerika Syarikat sepertimana yang dialami oleh negara-negara di Amerika Latin dan yang terbaru adalah di Thailand. Kami juga tahu bahawa dalam FTA yang telah dipersetujui dengan Amerika Syarikat, komitmen oleh negara membangun telah melangkaui kewajipan dalam WTO. Ini amat tidak adil dan tidak wajar.  

Maka kami menuntut supaya :  

1.       Kerajaan Malaysia harus membuat Penilaian Kos- Faedah Komprehensif Malaysia –US FTA ini dari semua aspek dan hasil kajiannya   harus diumumkan kepada rakyat  Malaysia.

2.       Minit    Perundingan Dan Isu Perbincangan Diantara Amerika  Dan Malaysia  Dalam Perjanjian Ini Mestilah Diumumkan kepada Rakyat Malaysia .

3.       Suatu Mekanisma Maklumbalas Dan Komen diwujudkan untuk membolehkan Rakyat Biasa Menyuarakan Kepentingan Dan Kebimbangan Mereka   Mengenai   Implikasi  Us-Malaysia FTA

4.       Perbincangan Yang Lebih Telus Dan  Direpresentasi Oleh Pelbagai  Pertubuhan Rakyat  , Badan  Bukan    Kerajaan , Pertubuhan Hak Asasi , Suhakam , Parti Politik , Kesatuan Pekerja  Mesti Diadakan  Dengan    Segera Untuk Menerangkan  Perkembangan Perundingan Dan Menerima Maklumbalas Daripada Wakil –Wakil Tersebut.

5.        Sehingga Kerajaan Melaksanakan Tuntutan –Tuntutan Seperti   Diatas , Segala   Perundingan Susulan  Dengan  Amerika   Mengenai   US-Malaysia  Free Trade  Agreement  Hendaklah Ditangguh .  

Pada masa sekarang, memandangkan kurangnya ketelusan dan akauntabiliti dalam rundingan yang kini sedang berjalan dan kemungkinan besar hasil yang berat sebelah dalam rundingan FTA Amerika Syarikat-Malaysia, kami menggesa kerajaan supaya menghentikan dengan segera semua rundingan yang selanjutnya berhubung perkara ini. Sehingga Penilaian Kos-Faedah Komprehensif dilakukan, dan diumumkan kepada orang ramai dan dibuka untuk penelitian Parlimen dan orang ramai serta mendapat maklum balas dan mendapati memberikan manfaat kepada rakyat Malaysia, rundingan Malaysia –US FTA harus dihentikan dengan segera.  

Yang benar   

The “missing” ambulance…

December 27, 2006

The missing ambulance from the Klang Hospital : No sign of ambulance after 44 minutes. But Zara has taken only 8 minutes.Who would believe Dr Ang’s story? 

In the news report published in the Sun today entitled “Director: Probe revealed ambulance despatched to accident scene”, the Selangor Health Department’s investigations revealed that Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Klang had despatched an ambulance immediately after receiving a call about an accident near the Batu Tiga toll (Elite Highway) on Dec 13.  Here’s the report…“In a statement today, Dr Ang Kim Teng, the department’s health director, commended Zara Davies Abdul Rahman for her civic consciousness in assisting the injured victim but said there were some erroneous information in her account of her encounter with the hospital.Two weeks ago, businesswoman Zara said she witnessed an accident on the highway and spent more than an hour waiting for an ambulance from the hospital, which allegedly never turned up. The accident victim, Mohd Yusry, died on the way to the hospital in a car.Ang said investigations revealed the following:

  • The hospital’s call centre received a call for ambulance at 1.52pm on Dec13;
  • Subsequently, a call was made to Zara by the ambulance crew at 1.57pm to clarify the location of the accident. The ambulance was despatched immediately after that;
  • At 2.06pm, the centre received another call from Zara enquiring whether an ambulance had been despatched. The centre specifically informed her that it was already on its way and will take some time to arrive due to heavy traffic and the distance from the hospital. This conversation was recorded in the centre’s record system.
  • At 2.36pm, Zara again made a call to the centre requesting for directions to the hospital. She was given the assistance and arrived at the emergency department at 2.44 pm. The closed circuit TV recording showed the staff on duty had promptly pushed a trolley and followed behind Zara to fetch the victim from the car.

“From the above, it is clear that we have promptly responded to the call for ambulance, and it is not true that Zara waited for more than an hour for the ambulance. “It was also not true that she was told that the ambulance had not been sent as our audio recordings indicated otherwise,” Ang said.“We hope this clarification will lay to rest the allegations by Zara on the failure of the ambulance to arrive as she had already left the scene before the ambulance arrived.

The Klang Hospital and other hospitals in the state would continue to strive for speedy response to all ambulance calls bearing in mind that distance and traffic conditions sometimes hamper our efforts to reach the scene speedily,” he added.”

Ok. Ang claimed that Zara called up at 2.36pm top ask for the direction from the accident scene to the Klang Hospital. And Ang said that Zara and Yusry arrived at the emergency department at 2.44pm.Now, that’s only eight (8) minutes! So, in 8 minutes, Zara managed to get to the hospital with an ordinary passenger car (without the usual sirens). And Ang has admitted that the hospital received the first call from Zara at 1.52pm. From 1.52pm right up to 2.36pm, that’s 44 minutes! So, in 44 minutes, Ang is saying that the ambulance dispatched by the hospital could not reach the accident scene. But didn’t Ang have just admitted that It took only 8 minutes  for Zara to arrive at the hospital?

So, what has happened to the ambulance during this long 44 minutes, Dr Ang Kim Ting?

We noted that Dr Ang did not tell us the exact arrival time of the so-called ambulance in his statement. So we do not know how long it has taken exactly for the ambulance to reach the accident scene. He also did not explain why it has taken so long for the ambulance to arrive at the accident scene. Dr Ang also did not tell us who were on duty on the day of accident (from the emergency control centre to the ambulance department). There’s no way we can check unless the Ministry of Health is willing to own up. 

What kind of ambulance service do we have in Malaysia? After 50 long years of rule under the Umno–led Barisan Nasional Government, everything has gone haywired!

Three months ago, the Health Ministry’s director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican had said any ambulance response time that was longer than 15 minutes was unacceptable.

Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang has held both Dr Ismail Merican (known for his great appetite for publicity) and the Minister of Health Dr Chua Soi Lek to be responsible for Yusry’s death. Ang’s attempt has failed miserably. It’s time for Chua and Merican to own up. Admit their mistakes and pay compensation to Yusry’s family on humanitarian ground. Now!

Mr.Prime Minister,will you be there to see your rakyat?

November 20, 2006

  

Gabungan Membantah Penswastaan Perkhidmatan Kesihatan –The civil society  was forced to act  on behalf of the people once again  and once too often. But what to do if you have such an irresponsible “Government of the people” ?  

The PEOPLE’S PETITION TO THE PRIME MINISTER ON HEALTHCARE SERVICES will be presented to the Prime Minister on 23 Nov 2006 at 10am. DAP, as a member of the Coalition, will be represented and I will be there to lend our support to the campaign. See you there.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               =INVITATION= 

PEOPLE’S PETITION TO THE PRIME MINISTER ON HEALTHCARE SERVICES  On behalf of the Gabungan Membantah Penswastaan Perkhidmatan Kesihatan, we would like to invite members of your organisation to attend our Press Conference and the handing of the Petition against the Privatisation of the Healthcare Services.  The details are as follows:  Date    : 23 November 2006 (Thursday) Time   : 10.00 – 11.00 a.m.Venue : Prime Minister’s Office, Putrajaya  The Malaysian Government’s reform to the healthcare services is still unclear to the Malaysian citizens. In this petition, citizens want to stop the privatisation of the healthcare services and to bring about an equitable reform to our present services.  We very much appreciate if you and members of your organisation can attend our Press Event. If you have any queries, please contact Mimi, WDC at 03 77844977 or Kumar, Secretary of the Health Coalition at 019 5616807.

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Sincerely \nyours,

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Maria Chin Abdullah \n

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Executive \nDirector

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WDC

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On behalf of the Health \nCoalition

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(endorsed by \n81organisations).

\n\n”,0] ); //–>  Sincerely yours,    Maria Chin Abdullah Executive Director WDCOn behalf of the Health Coalition (endorsed by 81 organisations)

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