Archive for August 27th, 2007

Can civil servants utilise government facilities for personal profit?

by Milton Combe

As leader of the opposition and a lawyer I would like to bring to your attention and query some incredible policy changes implemented overnight by the current Health Minister who appears to have a penchant for running roughshod of this country’s laws.

The Health Minister recently made a decision in allowing its specialists at the Putrajaya and Selayang hospitals to charge patients private sector fees. The primary reason of this policy appears to be to enable such specialists to remain in government service instead of opting for private practice for financial reasons. No doubt efforts must be made to ensure the continual presence of senior specialists in government service to enable tax payers the benefit of proper treatment in especially these trying times of declining medical standards. But is this modus operandi legal? These changes appear to have the support of the MCA’s Star columnist V.K. Chin who is notorious for his writings of skewed wisdom on many topics just so it pleases his political masters although they may defy logic. But we cannot blame V.K. Chin as his very existence depends on advocating such articles which unfortunate readers of the Star have to sometimes endure.

1. Unlike private hospitals which are built and managed through private financial initiatives, public hospitals are built with public funds sourced via income tax, etc. Is it lawful for government doctors who are civil servants to charge or profit using such facilities without undergoing a corporatisation exercise like TNB, Telekom, Klang Port Authority etc that is usually endorsed by our courts and advertised accordingly in the newspapers after of course the whole exercise is agreed upon in parliament and an Act passed? This is a dangerous legal precedent. If by all means policy makers feel that this is the way our specialists or skilled staff need to be rewarded then indeed this is what needs to be done. Which will then bring into question how is it the other GLCs took the right legal steps to privatization but the Health Minister, who is known for his lack of tolerance for “illegal” clinics but instead promotes traditional medicine in our hospitals, has suddenly decided it is OK if his ministry does not follow the rules?

2. Secondly, the report states that government policy is – general hospitals and clinics are meant for the lower income group and it was difficult to verify the financial status of everyone seeking treatment. The implication is that, those with financial means should seek private treatment. Now this is indeed news. Government hospitals are put up using tax payer’s money. It does not matter if the tax payer drives into GHKL with a Rolls Royce but he may indeed be paying far higher taxes then the average person. He should, like every other tax payer, be entitled to proper treatment and not be told that he needs to pay additional private specialist fees or shooed away to seek treatment at a private facility. Has the Treasury, Auditor General and Attorney General Chambers been advised of these arrangements? Read the rest of this entry »


2nd urgent motion – Dropping of Zakaria’s 37 charges and new crisis of confidence in justice system

I have submitted to the Speaker of Parliament, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah a second urgent motion for debate in Parliament on Wednesday – the extraordinary dropping of the 37 charges against the Selangor State Assemblyman for Port Klang Datuk Zakaria Md Deros and five of his business partners under the Companies Act 1965.

The nub of the argument is that the dropping of Zakaria’s 37 charges have illuminated the new crisis of confidence in the system of justice in the country.

This is the latest setback in the past two months before the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations on 31st August 2007 shattering public confidence in the independence, integrity and professionalism of national institutions causing more and more Malaysians to ask what has gone wrong with nation-building.

The failure to give satisfactory explanation for the withdrawal of the 37 charges against Zakaria has reinforced public perception that there are politically-powerful people in the country who enjoy immunities and privileges to the extent that they are a law unto themselves and not subject to the ordinary laws of the land binding on all Malaysians.

This is a great blow to public and investor confidence in the just rule of law, especially efficient upholding of law and order and the fair administration of justice, which had reached increasingly critical level because of a series of incidents including: Read the rest of this entry »


RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal – Liong Sik telling the truth or a pack of lies?

I am very disappointed that my motion for an urgent debate of the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal and a government bailout has been denied, casting not only a dark shadow on the 50th Merdeka Anniversary celebrations on Friday by raising grave questions about good governance, an accountable and honest Cabinet and an effective “First-World Parliament”.

It would appear that no Barisan Nasional MP is prepared to take a principled stand demanding full parliamentary accountability of the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal and that there should be no government bail-out unless there is prior Parliamentary sanction, especially as the government had earlier been giving an assurance that the PKFZ was feasible and self-financing which would not require a single ringgit of government funding.

Although the rejection by the Speaker, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah of my urgent motion on the PKFZ is a setback in the campaign to hold the government to the National Integrity Plan launched by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, I will continue to demand full and proper accountability for the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal in the current budget meeting of Parliament.

Yesterday, former MCA President and Transport Minister, Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik broke his silence on the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal which was initiated when he helmed the Transport Ministry but what he said raised the question whether Ling was telling the truth or just a pack of lies.

How can Ling hide his head under the sand and claim that the PKFZ plan to “emulate Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone was a good strategic idea” when it has become a national calamity, which is the candidate for a RM4.6 billion bail-out — the biggest financial scandal for the start of any Prime Minister in the nation’s 50-year history?

Ling said yesterday that the intention of PKFZ was to copy Jebel Ali Free Zone, which had 4,500 factories supplying to the whole of the Gulf, by combining port trade with Jebel Ali and bring at least half the factories to PKFZ to supply to Asean.

After spawning the monster of a RM4.6 billion mega-financial scandal, what has PKFZ to show in terms of achieving the target of attracting 2,250 factories from Jebel Ali Free Zone to Port Klang? Has it achieved 10, five or even one per cent of this target so far? Read the rest of this entry »