Tamiflu: US$3b spent – but does it really work?

This is something that I have been wondering about for a while now: why do so many people believe everything that Big Pharma tells them without conclusive evidence? One would have thought that governments and the medical community would want to see rigorous testing before spending big bucks for some ‘miracle’ drug.

Why have governments around the world spent US$3 billion since the emergence of H1N1 on Tamiflu, a drug that seems to do very little? That’s the question raised by The Atlantic, after the British Medical Journal revealed that researchers were unable to conclude that the drug is really effective.

Reuters reported in May that Malaysia was boosting its Tamiflu stockpile to cover 10 per cent of its 27 million population from 7.5 percent.

Now, in an explosive report, The Atlantic reveals:

Governments, public health agencies, and international bodies such as the World Health Organization, have all based their decisions to recommend and stockpile Tamiflu on studies that had seemed independent, but had in fact been funded by the company and were authored almost entirely by Roche employees or paid academic consultants…



Oil wealth: Blessing or curse?

When Tengku Razaleigh started Petronas in 1974, little did he realise he would live to see the day he would wish the country had not discovered its oil bounty.

Our nation is blessed with a modest quantity of oil reserves. As a young nation coming to terms with this natural bounty in the early 1970’s, our primary thought was to conserve that oil. That is why, when Petronas was formed, we instituted the Petroleum Development Council. Its function was to advise the PM on how to conserve that oil and use it judicially for national development. We knew our reserves would not last long.

We saw our oil reserves as an unearned bounty that would provide the money for modernization and technology. We saw our oil within a developmental perspective. Our struggle then, was to make the leap from an economy based on commodities and low cost assembly and manufacture to a more diverse, economy based on high income jobs.



Number of unemployed graduates soars

While the uproar over the BTN continues, let’s look at what happens to some of our university students after they graduate.

The following was the answer received by Selayang MP William Leong in Parliament recently:

In 2004, there were 4,594 unemployed graduates of whom 163 were Chinese, 207 were Indians and 4,060 were Malays;

In 2005, there were 2,413 unemployed graduates of whom 31 were Chinese, 70 were Indians and 2,186 were Malays;

In 2006, there were 56,750 unemployed graduates of whom 1,110 were Chinese, 1,346 were Indians and 50,594 were Malays.

In 2007, there were 56,322 unemployed graduates of whom 1,348 were Chinese, 1,401 were Indians and 49,075 were Malays.

In 2008 (as of June) there were 47,910 unemployed graduates of whom 1,403 Chinese, 4,694 Indians and 41,813 were Malays.

This more or less tallied with the 47,733 active graduate registrants on the Malaysian Labour Exchange in June 2008.

By March 2009, Najib was talking about 60,000 unemployed graduates. This was more or less in line with the 57,701 graduate registrants on the Exchange in March 2009.



Spotlight on Sarawak electricity

The federal government reimburses the Sarawak power supply corporation about RM1.4 million a month so that about 70,000 households in Sarawak can enjoy free power supply, reports the Borneo Post.

Sounds good?

Let’s take a closer look at Sarawak Energy Bhd, which is 65 per cent owned by the State Financial Secretary Sarawak (which falls under the finance minister, who is Chief Minister Taib Mahmud) and 4 per cent by EPF:

Financial year ended 31 Dec 2008
Turnover RM1.3 billion
Profit before tax RM293m (RM401m in 2007)
Directors’ fees, etc RM3.8m (RM2.3m in 2007)
Now, let’s compare that with Tenaga Nasional Bhd, which was 38 per cent owned by Khazanah and 14 per cent by the EPF:



Confusion over Batu Kawan monorail test track

MRails International Sdn Bhd states on its website that the Penang Development Corporation (PDC) has “authorised our consortium to implement a monorail test track for 1.3km in Batu Kawan (near Stadium), Penang”.

The Edge weekly had reported in October that the state had in principle given the green light to businessman Jeyakumar Varathan, believed to be a director of MRails, to build a monorail test track on a 30-acre site in Batu Kawan. Discussions between the Penang government and Jeyakumar reportedly began three months ago.

But confusing statements have been made in the media by various state government leaders.

On 30 Nov, Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy revealed, as reported in The Edge and elsewhere: