Archive for February 11th, 2012

Malaysian health reforms socio-economics: Part 5

— David KL Quek
The Malaysian Insider
Feb 11, 2012

FEB 11 — Why the need for Health Reform now?

This is the question that has been posed by many people. What indeed are the key reasons for the government to embark on such a radical transformation of our health system? There is no easy answer. But I would venture some socio-economic and health economic possibilities.1

Although one cannot discount or exclude political reasons or even patronage-linked considerations, I would not wish to embark on this line of speculation, because essentially this would only detract from the real issues at hand. Also, it would be hard to prove what are at best, innuendoes and almost surely shaped by partisan motives and beliefs. But it would also certainly be impossible to allay public fears and anxieties that these sorts of political interjections might play a role in any government policy makeovers. So perhaps, these possibilities should at least be highlighted so that they might be forewarned and prevented from hijacking such a monumental policy shift for personal or partisan reasons.

Major reasons for this proposed health reform are: widening public-private disparity in healthcare delivery; attempt to slow down rising healthcare costs; government policy shift to reduce health care subsidy; implementing W.H.O. mandate to provide so-called universal coverage for health; social health insurance to tap into another copayment mechanism for healthcare payment; and forming an autonomous national health authority. Read the rest of this entry »


36 Hours: Penang, Malaysia

Published: February 9, 2012
The New York Times

A fishing boat near Telok Pahang.
A fishing boat near Telok Pahang. More Photos »

PENANG is on a roll. Thanks to an influx of private and public investment and creative energy — precipitated in part by Unesco’s 2008 listing of Penang’s capital city, George Town, as a World Heritage site — the Malaysian island is padding out its list of attractions. To the region’s best street food add smart restaurants and bars. And a lively street culture anchored in religious festivals has now been joined by shows at the recently opened Performing Arts Center, and events like the Penang World Music Festival (March 30 to April 1;, as well as the annual George Town Festival (June 15 to July 15;, a month of exhibitions, performances and readings by local and international artists and writers. Your stay will very likely be more comfortable than it would have been a few years ago, with new boutique hotels opening in recently renovated pre-World War II shop houses and mansions.
Read the rest of this entry »


Is Khazanah Nasional a bumi fund?

— Spencer Gan
The Malaysian Insider
Feb 11, 2012

FEB 11 — Dear Mr Prime Minister,

I need clarification. Two days ago, you announced that PNB and Khazanah Nasional will be divesting some of its businesses to bumiputera firms.

There was also the usual talk of open tenders and how qualified bumi firms will be considered. I am not going to bother about this talk of open tenders because it will snow in Malaysia before there is a level playing field in business.

What concerns me is this drive to ask Khazanah Nasional to divest its stake in non-core businesses to bumi firms. I thought Khazanah was the sovereign wealth fund of the NATION. And I thought that meant that Khazanah is the custodian of wealth belonging to ALL Malaysians.

If that is the case, then Khazanah Nasional should be divesting its non-core businesses to qualified Malaysian businesses. Read the rest of this entry »


Even after Anwar’s acquittal, politics will likely stay dirty

— Bridget Welsh
The Malaysian Insider
Feb 10, 2012

FEB 10 — Malaysia recently hit the headlines after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was acquitted of sodomy charges, although the prosecution has already filed an appeal.

The case is entirely political and reflects the government’s willingness to use the judiciary for political ends. Malaysia is set for the most competitive elections it has ever had, likely before June or else pushed off until 2013, and each side has a fighting chance to win.

Malaysian politics is dirty. Murder, sodomy, secret trysts, sex videos and conspiracy are all commonplace, and corruption scandals occur regularly. Both sides wallow in this political gutter, each trying to darken the reputation of the other and not fully appreciating how much the system as a whole has been damaged. Anwar’s acquittal gave the government an opportunity to take the high road and move away from this negative approach. Instead, it opted to appeal, despite the shabby evidence.

Concerns are now focused on the integrity of the electoral process. The government is mooting reforms but the problems are vast, from administrative neutrality to vote buying. As the system becomes more competitive, political institutions involved in anticorruption and law have been compromised, with the government pressuring institutions such as the civil service to toe the line. Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia’s prime minister loses most from Anwar trial

— by Barry Wain
The Malaysian Insider
Feb 10, 2012

FEB 10 — Malaysians expressed a collective sigh of relief when Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was acquitted of sodomy charges in early January.

Their groan of dismay over the prosecution’s subsequent decision to appeal was equally palpable.

For most Malaysians, despite being divided in their opinions of Anwar, the acquittal marked a chance to move away from the sleazy politics that has long dominated daily life. Now, they expect more of the same. Aware of public exasperation, Prime Minister Najib Razak was quick to seize on the not guilty verdict as proof of his ‘reformist’ agenda and Malaysia’s supposedly independent judiciary. But the appeal leaves him stranded, inclined to delay calling a general election, and acutely aware that he is under threat as much from within his own ranks as from the opposition. It seems likely that Najib will win the next election, but unless he scores big — which seems unlikely — his leadership could be at risk. Read the rest of this entry »