Archive for September 14th, 2007

Letter to PM – urgent response to issues raised in budget debate in Parliament like RM4.6b PKFZ bailout, RM8.1b dev. est. discrepancy , e-Kesihatan rip-off

I have written to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, asking him to respond to urgent issues raised in the first three days of the 2008 Budget in Parliament which cannot wait for Ministerial replies some two months later scheduled for early November when the Dewan Rakyat reconvenes on Oct. 22 after the 39-day break for the fasting month and Hari Raya holidays.

I listed four urgent issues which had been raised in Parliament in the first three days of budget debate earlier this week and which are crying out for immediate government response and action, viz:

1. The RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) bailout scandal

Accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance principles demand instant end of the government’s denial syndrome both in and outside Parliament about the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout scandal — particularly at a time when the Prime Minister is trying to assure Malaysians that the government means business and would not brook any hanky-panky following the shocking exposes of the pervasive culture of impunity, corruption, waste and mismanagement of public funds in the 2006 Auditor-General’s Reports.

When compared to the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout scandal, the corruption and mismanagement of millions or tens of millions of ringgit of funds exposed by the 2006 Auditor-General’s Reports were mere “chicken-feed”.

However, if the Cabinet can be so irresponsible as to continue to deny that there is a RM4.6 billion bailout of the Port Klang Free Zone scandal, while the culture of impunity persists in providing immunity from legal and accountability consequences for those responsible for the RM4.6 billion bailout when the government had right from the start been given a very categorical assurance that the PKFZ project was feasible, self-financing and would not require a single ringgit of public funding, a wrong message is being sent out – that all the public hullabaloo over the Auditor-General’s Reports 2006 are mere “sandiwara” and not meant to be taken seriously, as absolutely nothing would ensue. Read the rest of this entry »


Orang Asli allocations – not how much but what reaches them

The Budget states that the government is committed to improving the quality of life of Orang Asli, allocating RM170 million to the Department of Orang Asli Affairs to carry out numerous programmes and projects.

We should listen to the views of the Orang Asli community, and the following are some feedback from the Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC).

With regard to the financing of Orang Asli development, the issue is not how much is allocated in the annual budget but how much actually reaches the Orang Asli in real terms, in concrete benefits. Read the rest of this entry »


DAP’s MENUS Budgetary proposals

Two days before the formal budget presentation by the Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in Parliament last Friday, DAP presented its first alternative budget for 2008, themed “Malaysian First: Unity Driven Equity, Growth & Innovation”.

The proposed DAP 2008 Malaysian Budget focuses on the twin challenges of globalisation and the country’s high dependence on oil and gas resources.

With increasing competition from other developing countries and the rapidly evolving technology markets, it is critical that Malaysia puts in place a system which will be able to exploit the opportunities provided by, and at the same time mitigate the negative impact resulting from, globalisation.

At the same time, a 40% dependence on government revenue from the oil and gas sector is of serious concern, especially in the light of oil reserves which will last for only another two decades and Malaysia becoming a net oil importer by 2011.

The proposed DAP Budget is meant as a distinct departure from the current administration’s New Economic Policy (NEP) which is driven by race. The underlying rationale and approach to the proposed DAP Budget is the “Malaysia Economic & National Unity Strategy” (MENUS) which will be based on performance, competence and needs of all Malaysians.

The key policy measures proposed in the DAP Budget should be given full consideration by the government. In fact, a copy of the DAP budgetary proposals was presented to the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya on Thursday, the eve of Abdullah’s Friday presentation.

The key highlights of the proposed DAP Budget 2008 are: Read the rest of this entry »


Improving productivity & competitiveness of delivery system

A Budget or a blueprint will only be as good as its execution. In the past decades, we have seen many ambitious plans announced by the Government. However, these projects have often ended at best, a qualified success without achieving its original objectives, such as the Multimedia Super Corridor project or at worse, an unmitigated failure such as the BioValley or the MSC e-Village.

In the past year, the administration has also launched several large-scale blueprints for various projects in Malaysia, including the Iskandar Developer Region (IDR), the Northern Economic Corridor as well as the East Coast Corridor. These efforts will all be in vain if they are not implemented with competence and integrity.

The focus of the budget has to be on substantially improving the competence and integrity of our civil service and delivery system to ensure that the benefits expected from Government initiatives will be enjoyed by all Malaysians. Read the rest of this entry »


Robust legal framework, economic efficiency

If the budget is to succeed in bringing about a significant shift of our economy to the next gear, our economic policies and reform must also be accompanied by significant reforms in our judicial system to ensure that foreign investors will have the necessary confidence in not just justice meted out but also the speed and efficiency at which disputes can be resolved.

Our judiciary system today leaves much to be desired. There are thousands of cases in backlog, and often it takes more than five years before commercial disputes are even brought to court for trial at the High Courts. Such inefficiency certainly benefits and incentivises the culprits and penalising the victims.

What certainly wrecks the confidence in our legal system is when a 19-year old, Lee Kwong Yong was jailed for 6 months while awaiting justice for being unable to produce his identity card when caught by the police. The injustice would have been worse had it not been for a good Samaritan who chanced upon his case.

The DAP recommends that the Government do more to attract more experienced legal practitioners as well as industry specialists into the judicial profession to resolve the twin problems facing the Courts, a shortage of judges as well as a lack of professionals to manage the mounting backlog of cases. Read the rest of this entry »


A Healthy Population, a Prosperous Nation

The increased privatization of the health sector has resulted in the shift of health-related expenditures and risks from the society at large to that of the individual level. While it may be argued that it is proper for any person to bear a fair share of her medical expenditures, the shift in the sharing of such costs and risks has resulted in inequitable access of adequate healthcare to certain groups within the society.

The paradox arises when those who can best afford healthcare are ones who need healthcare the least; it is the poor who can least afford to live in a healthy environment (e.g. lack of proper sanitation) and a healthy lifestyle (e.g. good nutrition).

There should be increased public funding and investment in improving the standard of the public health sector by increasing the RM10.7 billion allocation in 2008 Budget or 8.3% of total estimates to at least 10% or RM12.8 billion.

One of the key mechanisms to keep medical inflation in check is to “right-site” healthcare. Thus, there needs to be a major paradigm shift from a near absolute focus on provision of medical care to one which minimises the need for costly medical interventions.

Good health requires more than just access to quality and affordable medical care. Research has convincingly shown that medical care has played a less important role than other factors in improving health in countries like the UK. Healthy lifestyles play a bigger role than medical care in achieving good health.

The Ministry of Health should do this by enhancing health promotion and education as well as disease prevention capabilities, carrying out health education and promotion initiatives like a National Healthy Lifestyle Programme, National “No to Smoking” Campaign, Nutrition Programme and a School Health Programme.

In line with the special salary readjustment for the police force on top of the revision of the civil service pay recently, the DAP proposes a 20% additional increment for all doctors serving in government service, and an additional 10% increment for all support stuff such as nurses and pharmacists.

This forms a necessary step to incentivise doctors who are currently in service and attract more young doctors to service in government hospitals, at least for the initial years.

The medical profession in Malaysia are certainly one of the most poorly paid medical professionals in the region, resulting in many qualified Malaysian doctors seeking greener pastures overseas where they are in demand. At the same time, low wages compromises our healthcare system with sub-standard doctors recruited from many Third World countries. Read the rest of this entry »

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