IJN privatisation postponed: Umno elite out of touch

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The sudden postponement of the scheme to privatise the National Heart Institute (IJN) suggests that the government under-estimated the depth of public opposition to the move.

The postponement comes just a day after Najib revealed that the green light had been given to Sime Darby to acquire a majority stake.

The Umno elite appear to be out of touch not only with the masses but also with their own BN component parties such as the MCA, which is opposing the privatisation. Or were they just testing the waters (to gauge public reaction), as some of you suggest?

To me, the real heroes are the 33 IJN specialists (out of a total of 35) who stood up to oppose the move. Their stand is all the more commendable as chances are they would have stood to gain in terms of a more lucrative pay package. It is great to know there are public-spirited specialists in Malaysia, for whom money is not everything – something which the corporate predators find hard to understand.

So far, no real credible rationale has been given for wanting to hand over IJN to Sime Darby on a silver platter. If the government lacks funds for IJN, how will it help if Sime Darby takes over? (Amazing the government has plenty of funds to send an angkasawan into space and think of buying Eurocopters.)

Sime Darby is not going to pump in money into IJN for nothing.  To recover their investment cost, eventually they will have to raise patients’ fees or focus on “medical tourism” – at the expense of the many poor Malaysians who need proper and affordable health care.

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This is what Sime Darby has in mind for IJN (from The Edge):

Ahmad Zubir cited IJN’s brand and reputation, the institute’s full-paying patients, the synergies, vast opportunities in the sector, and the group’s overall healthcare plan, including the lucrative medical tourism segment, as the commercial reasons for the proposed acquisition.

“There is demand from overseas,” he said, adding that he did not believe medical tourism contributed significantly to IJN’s business now. He said IJN would be part of an aggressive plan that would see Sime Darby Healthcare and IJN widen their reach in the domestic and regional markets for the brands and their staff.

This is the same Sime Darby that pulled out from financing the Bakun undersea cables. Why couldn’t it raise financing and pump in money there (not that the Bakun undersea cables make economic sense) when the government needed it to? Why does it prefer IJN? Now that commodity prices have slumped, perhaps it is seeking a “safe haven” to invest in. What safer haven then controlling the potentially lucrative “market” for coronary health care, the company must have thought. No fear of falling demand there – as people will be forced to cough up if their lives are at stake.

Najib says the postponement of the deal has nothing to do with the by-election in Kuala Terengganu. Right, sure. Had the deal not been postponed, this issue alone could have been explosive and caused the BN all sorts of problems in the by-election campaign. The opposition would have gone to town with it and torn the BN campaign to shreds – and rightly so.

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It is interesting to see the criticism by certain Pakatan leaders of the IJN privatisation.

On the one hand, the Pakatan leaders are opposing the IJN privatisation because it will undermine the public health care system and hurt the lower-income group.

On the other, the Pakatan-ruled states are themselves promoting medical tourism  – which lures experienced doctors and specialists away from the general hospitals, including those in rural areas and smaller towns, and undermines the public health care system. (That leaves our general hospitals, which treat the vast majority of Malaysian patients, desperately short of specialists, experienced doctors and skilled personnel.) But then, isn’t this the same sort of medical tourism which Sime Darby  envisages for IJN?

So it’s a bit rich for the Pakatan MPs to criticise the IJN privatisation on the one hand while actively promoting medical tourism on the other!

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sammyB
sammyB
1 Jan 2009 2.48am

Dear Anil et all, Why do Sime want to take over IJN when they can build another specialist center elsewhere, bigger and better staffed with the best doctors money can buy (out) of M’sia? They have enough land in Selangor and the surrounding areas to even build a private runway to ferry all those rich, chinese Indons or Singaporean and even rich Filipinos (Chinese). IJN is sitting on billions and billions worth of RM, ie prime land in the heart of KL. (Perhaps) the smart/crooked politicians hope to takeover this land then sell it off to another of their vehicles,… Read more »

anna brella
anna brella
22 Dec 2008 6.46pm

Final point on this topic. Caveat: It is not my intention to teach anyone to suck any medical, business economics or marketing eggs here but I don’t want to make any wrong simplistic assumptions either. Like my young brother. He was unfortunately killed off by bad medical practice and medical negligence in Malaysia simply because he went to the wrong public hospital (as he had failed to renew his just lapsed insurance policy) and his family unfortunately compounded the grave error by unforgivably leaving him at the mercy of those at that incompetent public hospital. So you see, I have… Read more »

Vimal
Vimal
22 Dec 2008 8.42am

When Najib ‘announced’ that Sime Darby will take over IJN, he mentioned that the poor will be taken care of, government will still control the fees charged to it’s patients. 2 issues; First, how do you define poor people? Is the government going to use Malaysian Employment Act which covers only those earning less than RM1500/month as a yardstick. The majority of the people in thise country fall into middle income group. And most of the time the need to do a by-pass comes after a person retires. How many of the middle income group can afford this treatment. Please… Read more »

bow
bow
22 Dec 2008 1.08am

It is not because of umno elite out of touch, just take a look at who is behind Sime Darby board of directors and shareholders, my friend. You will know why in Malaysia privatizing profit and nationalizing losses is hallmark of BN’s governance. The answer is written all over if you bother to dig deeper into Sime Darby corporate structure,why should these Datuk care about ordinary Malaysians live or die???

Pegasus
Pegasus
21 Dec 2008 9.53pm

The Malaysian public are wide awake 7/24 especially after 8/3/08,any attempt by the BN regime to change anything is scrutinize deeply and we have a strong check and balance team in Pakatan Rakyat at Parliament level.The public had enough from this lying…BN party!!.Whatever spoken by the government is full of b..s..!!,this BN regime as never learn its lesson and the only thing left to do is kill off this party in the 13th GE at the ballot box.The IJN is one of the last left by the ruling party which is not privatise by the pirates.These pirates will not let… Read more »

najib
najib
20 Dec 2008 11.12pm

Anil
I think there should be a check and balance even for Pakatan Rakyat and u are doing just fine
Focus on the real issue here which is IJN privatisation.
Dont go on shooting the opposition all the time
Take care and keep up the good work bro
Peace

drabdulwahid
drabdulwahid
20 Dec 2008 8.51pm

medical service should never be a business. it shold never have been privatised. the same standard of medical service should be available whether they are poor or rich because having less money does not make one less human.
health service and education should be completely subsidised by the government. every effort should be done towards this goal. health service is a basic human right, be they saints or crooks.

ng k t
ng k t
20 Dec 2008 4.21pm

Why dont Sime Darby built another IJN type of hospital themselves? why suddenly hand over IJN after they have completed a new wing building hospital?. It is all benefit to all those cronies as they do not need to spend huge amount of money to built another IJN and yet suddenly able to reap profit without coming out money. IJn should never be privatise and if govt later force this rulling, please gather all rakyat to mobile massive demo against them. MCA is another hippocrate as earlier the health minister is saying privitase of IJN is good for the IJN… Read more »

jeff
jeff
20 Dec 2008 1.44pm

Sime Darby is a big conglomerate not red cross or any charitable organization that help the indigents and less fortunate members in our society. It grows and profited so much in Malaysia not by fulfilling its social obligation but through business deals and self center goal. why should it wants to pump in money into IJN for nothing since profit is the ultimate goal of corporations, of course it is going to charge high premium from patients to have high return from its investment or expect government to pay through some sorts of health care subsidy of civil servants.

endstands
endstands
20 Dec 2008 1.02pm

i’m skeptical on Sime Darby on the “social obligation”.private sector see money first then social issue later.that’s the fact.private sector is a money making sector.

i’m puzzled on why would Sime Darby be in interested in IJN and why MoF and Najib have this idea to pass IJN to such company?

if Sime Darby really want to do social obligation,then run SJMC as a social obligation rather than just a private hospital.

i’m quite worry about the fate of all poor patients if the deal gonna be a reality soon.IJN was built to help these poor people.

Angela Ooi
Angela Ooi
20 Dec 2008 11.55am

This Sime Darby take over of IJN is just another UMNO scam of making some money somehow, somewhere. This corrupt govt bleeds rakyat’s hard earned money on sweetheart deals that somehow only benefit certain cronies. This govt has no money for important things like education and health but wastes millions/billions on questionable projects and deals. I hope the crooks will remember God sees and knows all and the truth will be revealed eventually.

imwatchinu
imwatchinu
20 Dec 2008 9.29am

It’s another case of trying to get rich the easy way. As usual, the poor rakyat would be the sponsors and sufferers for their get rich quick scam.

As you said, the doctors must be congratulated for making their principled stand in spite of being the benefactors of the privatisation. Can we expect the same professionalism from the police, the ACA and the rest of our civil servants or is it too much to expect?

Ganesh
Ganesh
20 Dec 2008 8.53am

The poor and middle class would be affected badly. Already they cannot cope with the high prices of food. Go to any supermarket and you can now see a security guard in the milk aisle/section. The guard used to be only guarding the liquor section previously. The other day, I had the urge to ask the guard why he was guarding the milk section now, shockingly he said, there were many thefts. People were stealing milk mainly, instead of other things. When a society degrades and is forced to steal milk due to dire need, it is a clear sign… Read more »

Drachen
Drachen
20 Dec 2008 7.52am

My experience with private hospitals is not pleasant. Before they admit anyone, they want a “guarantor”. Once you sign the document they have full access to your bank account – you have to pay WHATEVER they charge you! Then they start dragging their feet. “The patient is not stable enough to be operated on. We need to observe him for a few more days in ICU or CCU. We need to stick this thing in his arm and it costs RMxxxx.”

You sweat blood looking at the rising cost!

Hentam saja da
Hentam saja da
20 Dec 2008 4.07am

Is Pakatan Rakyat promoting private sector to take over government hospitals for medical tourism? If not, then your comparison is NOT VALID at all. We can object to any move to take over government hospital (public money) but we cannot object to any doctor to move to private sector. It is the doctor’s free choice. And it is private sector right if they want to set up any hospital from the ground to cater for medical tourism as it is not public money. By the way, we are not a communist country where doctor should be stopped from going to… Read more »

anna brella
anna brella
20 Dec 2008 3.04am

Further to my earlier post here’s a (sorry, much) longer one: I too have no issue if the private sector wants to build many new private hospitals all over the place to cater for medical tourism/overseas patients. But….only so long as: (i) it is the Government and NOT those…er…indifferent (and usually manipulated by basic greed and falsely and smartly rationalised through words and numbers) market forces that regulate medical fees charged patients at both private and public hospitals, AND (ii) the number of GOOD (as opposed to rubbish and pseudo-) medical doctors and other auxiliary support personnel required to staff… Read more »

faizal
faizal
20 Dec 2008 2.10am

Hi Anil, Irrational link to Pakatan again, do you have any ethics at all or are you just attention deprived and feel that any attention is good attention, even negative ones? Previously, you took two press statements and compare them without doing any journalist worth their salt will do, clarify the facts. I am sure you know I am refering to the hillside tragedy. Then you knock penang govt for not supporting proton & wasting rakyat’s money when all LGE said was IF, IF they were to invest in new cars they will consider toyota camry… Perhaps you’re trying to… Read more »

asiseesit
asiseesit
20 Dec 2008 1.41am

Dear anil,

i agreed with some of the comments here. i think you may just need a short break. the holidays are coming. this is the second article which drew criticism on your reporting.

We Can
We Can
20 Dec 2008 1.38am

as for answers to many comments above … trust me i am in the industry …every bloody private hospital is already trying to server the tourism industry … please leave some for the locals that cannot afford to pay what filthy rich indonesian and singaporeans are paying…

and for the knowledge of the unknown people ….the indonesian are so bloody filthy rich that they will charter a PLANE to treat a simple flu in our private hospital ….

how do i know this? because my relatives are rich indonesians …

We Can
We Can
20 Dec 2008 1.35am

and to add to my earlier comment … what bloody donkey mechanism they are going to publicaly and transparently put in place to make sure Mr. A is from poor class, Mr. B is from Middle Class and Mr.C is from rich class so that different charges applied ?????

I think the rakyat has really for the last 50 year has HAD enough of this cok BS from the UMNO/BN govt.

Vote Change! Vote PKR, DAP and PAS!

We Can
We Can
20 Dec 2008 1.30am

…yes …last time they told us … toll will continue to be cheap for the middle class and the poor …in the end …(you know what happens) … its the standard UMNO bulls*** …i think for them to think they can continue to BS the rakyat …better think again…

Vote Change! Vote PKR, DAP and PAS!

qunimade
qunimade
20 Dec 2008 1.15am

Dear Anil, the logic is simple. This Najib knows nothing about the sufferings of the poor. He is definitely a mere follower of Mamak… He wants to continue M’s privatisation policy so that he can “hentam” all valuable guomen assets (which actually belongs to the rakyat) …. M and his group of greedy generals, from the most corrupt party in Bolehland has privatised almost everything for the past 20 years, and now they are eyeing IJN. After this, may be they will privatise all public hospitals, all secondary schools, all technical instutions and education agencies because this is the sector… Read more »

romerz
20 Dec 2008 12.09am

Sheesh Anil, What has really happened to you? How can opposing Sime’s acquisition of IJN be compared to the promotion of medical tourism? IJN serves a need of ordinary Malaysians for good cardiovascular and thoracic care at an affordable cost, a fundamental responsibility of the government given that so many ordinary Malaysians are just surviving and will not be able to afford private medical care. You also fail to note that this acquisition was not done in an open manner, rather Sime Darby putting forward their proposal and the government saying it does not have objections until the public outcry.… Read more »

LTH
LTH
20 Dec 2008 12.03am

How convenient … from Najib to Sime Darby!! The gov has just spent hundreds of millions building an extension to IJN and renovating the existing complex, which in fact has just been completed very recently! ( our MPs should get the gov to disclose the total amount spent on this project). And now ‘suddenly’ sime darby appears as a saviour white knight, and najib is ever so willing to hand the whole IJN over to them on a silver platter …….. and if this is any indication of Najib’s enterprising spirit as the next-in-waiting PM, I dread to think what… Read more »

Leithaisor
Leithaisor
19 Dec 2008 11.55pm

I think there may be cause to thank the UMNO elite / those who were eyeing the big bucks to be made via the IJN. Why? Just think of Zakaria Mat Deros’ excesses and the part they played in Pakatan winning control of Selangor. Just think of similar excesses by BN politicians, their cronies and their supporters, and what part such misdeeds had to play on March 8th. Just think of Kuala Terengganu in a few weeks’ time. I hope the Pakatan folks will capitalise on this issue and turn it into a Najib “No objection to Sime Darby stake”… Read more »