The Malaysia we live in today (case of Dr. Basmullah)

by Palmdoc

Dr Basmullah\'s case

What a sight it must have been. A wheelchair bound ethnic Indian lawyer from a multi-racial (but predominantly ethnic Chinese) party together with an ethnic Malay doctor from an opposition party were in High court to make an application to get Dr. Basmullah out of jail.

This is the Malaysia I like to see. Where it’s not about race but about helping one another, especially when another fellow Malaysian has been dealt with unjustly.

It is most unfortunate that the MMA was not the one seen to apply to bail Dr. Basmullah out. Never mind if he was not a member of the MMA but the MMA must be seen to be a champion of Malaysian doctors’ rights. If not, who wants to join the MMA?

Perhaps there has been too much in-fighting in the MMA of late but now that there has been overwhelming votes cast for Dr. Quek as President perhaps once again the MMA will be of one voice and a stronger doctors’ association.

It also makes me wonder if you give some people too much power, they will become arrogant, they will abuse the power and they will think your, my, our opinions and voices do not matter.

The PHFSA is just one example of such a situation. This is a law which was passed in Parliament despite the reservations and objections of doctors who feared they would be criminalized.

They were reassured by the ex-Minister of Health who had claimed it would primarily serve the purpose of weeding out bogus doctors but not criminalize legitimate ones. Despite the spin doctoring we read in the main stream papers, Dr. Basmullah was NOT operating an illegal clinic for 10 years. He was a legitimate doctor running a legitimate clinic until the powers that be decided to change the rules in 2006 with an Act which has huge potential for abuse of power.

Such power we see now that the doctors’ fears have been realised and a legitimate doctor has been jailed not because he harmed a patient. Not because he was caught in a porn video, bribed, raped, robbed, embezzled, cheated, was illegally caught with a million dollars in some airport or worse still blew up someone with C4. Nay, in the Malaysia we live today, we see people get away with some of these things as long as you are on the right side of the fence. On the other hand, a humble doctor goes to jail because a piece of paper makes him now a criminal.

Sorry to be a little political these days but I am concerned for my nation. I saw this in Haris Ibrahim’s blog which I want to highlight here as it’s a great poster. The PHFSA should be amongst those things.

  1. #1 by greenacre on Thursday, 7 February 2008 - 7:41 pm

    What people at down they will be harvesting at dusk. Money makers association is feeling the heat.

  2. #2 by greenacre on Thursday, 7 February 2008 - 7:42 pm

    Error in statement which ought to read ” what people plant at dawn, they will be harvesting at dusk’

  3. #3 by dranony on Thursday, 7 February 2008 - 9:10 pm

    If Dr Basmullah can be jailed on a technicality (not having a valid registration of his clinic),
    what do we do about the many Malaysian doctors who are NOT in possession of a valid Annual Practicing Certificate – which must by law be issued by the Malaysian Medical Association to every practising doctor before 1st Jan of every year, but is usually NOT?
    This situation occurs every single year, NOT because of tardiness by the doctors, but by the MMC, which the DG of Health, Tan Sri Ismail Merican heads.

    See this article:
    Many Doctors Practising Illegally in Malaysia!

  4. #4 by raven77 on Thursday, 7 February 2008 - 9:34 pm

    Yesterday……..the DG of Health announced out of the blue some pay rise goodies for government doctors coincidentally just before the elections…….an obvious attempt to avoid facing the Basmullah issue……Both DG and OKT must think doctors must be complete idiots or easy push overs…… is not only dishonorable that the DG and the Health Minister are still keeping quiet hoping everything will blow over while this doctor, a father of eight, languishes in jail….Don’t these people have any conscience. Admittedly the MMA which used to have vocal champions in is currently dormant……but that will not stop other doctors, bloggers and the opposition from highlighting such miscarriage of justice as that of Basmullah…….the DG and his nincompoops who were responsible for this entire cock-up must be brought to book…..either by this government or the next..

  5. #5 by ktteokt on Thursday, 7 February 2008 - 10:04 pm

    That should have been the spirit right from the start since independence but the government has made racial issues so prominent in Malaysia that the people became divided and disunited.

  6. #6 by dranony on Thursday, 7 February 2008 - 10:20 pm

    sorry, my previous post should have read:
    “what do we do about the many Malaysian doctors who are NOT in possession of a valid Annual Practicing Certificate – which must by law be issued by the _Malaysian Medical Council_ to every practising doctor before 1st Jan of every year, but is usually NOT?
    This situation occurs every single year, NOT because of tardiness by the doctors, but by the MMC, which the DG of Health, Tan Sri Ismail Merican heads.”

  7. #7 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 7 February 2008 - 11:08 pm

    Ministry of Health (“MOH”) has basicaly lost its plot.

    MOH’s decision to prosecute Dr. Basmullah and press for deterrent sentence must be viewed in context that it was merely using Dr Basmullah’s technical infraction of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act (“PHFSA”) as a landmark case in efforts to push and coerce acceptance of PHFSA by private doctors detractors – all in the name and pretext of regulating the medical care sector to public benefit.

    I say MOH has lost its plot because:-

    1. it should engage the private doctors/detractors, get their input on the rucks in the fabric of the legislation, iron these rucks out so that private doctors willingly accept the PHFSA – rather than use the big stick on a scrapegoat like Dr Basmullah in a bid to coerce acceptance. MOH acts like a typical bureaucat pushing its power heedless of the power of arguments from its detractors. The detractors are educated doctors – not sheep – that you can win over by force rather than logic.

    2. And where is MOH’s position from standpoint of logic? Even as a layman and non-doctor l don’t see it. First MOH talks about PHFSA regulating the medical care sector. It says that the registration procedures under PHFSA are intended to weed out bogus doctors and charlatans who are a danger to public heath.

    Fine, but how does it advance PHFSA’s objective of weeding out bogus doctors and charlatans when the person weeded out and punished by custodial sentence of 3 months jail – Dr Basmullah – was in possession of an active practising certificate and hence a licensed doctor? Worse part is that MOH prosecuting Dr Basmullah and pressing for deterrent sentence is headed by non other than the Director General (“DG”) of the Ministry of Health (currently Tan Sri Dr. Ismail Merican) who by Para 1(1) of the First Schedule of our Medical Act is also the ex-officio President of the Malaysian Medical Council issuing the practising certificate to Dr Basmullah as a licensed doctor – which in the other capacity as DG of MOH he was prosecuting and securing a conviction of Dr Basmullah under the PHFSA ostensibly intended to weed out unlicensed bogus doctors and charlatans!

    Surely even a layman unfamiliar with the intricacies of medical world can see the irony, inconsistency and screw-up here by MOH!

    And the basic reason why MOH cannot explain and reconcile this irony, inconsistency and screw-up is the same reason why it cannot explain satifactorily its defence of the PHFSA – the logic of why private doctors who are already regulated and licensed by the Malaysian Medical Council (curently headed as president by Tan Sri Dr. Ismail Merican) need again to be additionally and doubly regulated and licensed by another tier of bureaucrats from MOH under the PHSFA headed by MOH’s DG (again the same Tan Sri Dr. Ismail Merican)!

    3. It looks like there’s strong vested interests in MOH that pushed through the PHFSA without looking into the legitimate concerns of all stakeholders including sections of doctors, dentists and nurses in private sectors. Otherwise why push the legislation through with alacrity in spite of objections from certain quarters which have not been answered satisfactorily, and even after pushing it though, why enforce it with such alacrity on Dr Basmullah to send the deterrent signal to others to conform or be punished?

    4. Of course, when Dr Chua Soi Lek resigned with Dato Ong Ka Ting taking over as acting minister of MOH, there is greater uncertainty in MOH in the transition period as to which way to proceed with the PHFSA, which set the backdrop for little bureaucratic napoleons within MOH to be free to assert their will, heedless of right or wrong of policy directions but just based on their whims and fancies especially their prerogatives where they feel their discretion, power and authority defied or challenged. Hence they went Dr Basmullah without concern for his mitigating circumstances.

    5. I call on Dato Ong Ka Ting to do something about this unsatisfactory state of affairs in the ministry that he heads, albeit in acting capacity, by which Dr Basmullah has proven to be a collateral casualty of injustice and incoherence of policy and its administration.

  8. #8 by waterfrontcoolie on Thursday, 7 February 2008 - 11:16 pm

    Selective persecutions have been the hall marks of the Gomen in so many cases that the average guys at the local kopi-tiam would tell you the out-comes even before the cases are handled by the AG office!! So much for our faith in the GOMEN! My GOD, many a time their verdicts do not differ from that of the learned judges! Their conclusions, Semua-nya ada harga!! So if any Association or organisation is somehow funded and headed by a ‘ napoleon’. you can be assured of its action and decision. Common sense does not count any more. Only how much is the consideration!! What a shame!! It reflects badly on all Malaysians for condoning such behaviour not once but repeated over the last 25 years!

  9. #9 by izrafeil on Thursday, 7 February 2008 - 11:38 pm

    Uncle Lim,

    Rumah Istana one of the Kelang’s how? Got technicalities not in his case, he got scot free!!

    Double Standard – if You are a KRONY, its scot free, if you are a small nobody, or better still setinggan … habis lah…..

  10. #10 by zack on Friday, 8 February 2008 - 2:00 am

    ” …. What a sight it must have been. A wheelchair bound ethnic Indian lawyer from a multi-racial (but predominantly ethnic Chinese) party together with an ethnic Malay doctor from an opposition party were in High court to make an application to get Dr. Basmullah out of jail……” – Palmdoc.

    ….. this piece must the most hypocritical statement I have come across. If anybody believed this …. they are just a hypocrite fools! What the DAP is doing is just to “menanggok di air keruh” — Its never about the good Dr at all..its about high-lighting the “blunder” that the law created and the “weaknesses” of the BN govt. Just know who Karpal Singh is and you will find that its true!

  11. #11 by undergrad2 on Friday, 8 February 2008 - 7:46 am

    The DAP may be opportunistic, seeking to make political capital out of this incident but the fact remains that a doctor whose only mistake is that he has been reckless or even stupid in not complying with the terms of an Act understudied, badly drafted and passed by Parliament in haste and without a full discussion, has been incarcerated for not being able to pay the fine which is exorbitant under the circumstances.

    Surely something is wrong somewhere.

  12. #12 by raven77 on Friday, 8 February 2008 - 8:30 am

    The four little Napoleans at the Amalan Perubatan Division at the Ministry of Health have been literally getting away with murder since Chua Soi Lek’s time who was probably too busy visiting every hospital in this country and one particular hotel all the time….how is it no one in the system did anything about them despite the many warnings by doctors……this Ministry has not only lost the plot but has consistently misused its authority……this will become an election issue for both the Badawi and OKT……

  13. #13 by Richard Teo on Friday, 8 February 2008 - 8:38 am

    Zack, no matter what you say about Karpal Singh and the opposition one thing remain indisputable.Did UMNO or any party came to the help of this doctor who is the father of eight children?Did you raise a finger to help him?You seem to be good at critising others who render him help.Dont just tlk Zack, get off your ass and do something if you are serious.

  14. #14 by Jeffrey on Friday, 8 February 2008 - 8:51 am

    This is in reference to Zack’s latest comments that DAP/Karpal Singh“menanggok di air keruh”…

    What he is saying is that DAP takes advantage of Dr. Basmullah’s plight to appear in election year as political do-gooders, extending legal asistance (pro bono publico) to an indigent serban wearing doctor to drive home its political message that it fights the cause of justice for all Malaysians irrepective of race, religion and creed. And from that he labels DAP/Karpal Singh hypocrites, meaning fakery or pretentions.

    Lets evaluate Zack’s accusation of political hypocrisy.

    [Hypocrisy can mean several different concepts, from the basic idea of “not practising what you preach” to “consciously or subconsciously putting forward a better image of ourselves than really exists” to “hypocrisy being the act of pretending to have morals or virtues that one does not truly possess or practice” – courtesy of Wikipedia].

    Zack’s accusation of political hypocrisy ignores a few salient aspects:

    First, how does Zack know the internal concious or unconscious values of the DAP stalwarts – LKS & Karpal – to impute, without showing of basis, that the duo don’t really care or feel outraged about the injustice perpetrated on Dr. Basmullah and are doing this entirely out of political advantage?

    Secondly, even if, as what Undergrad2 says – that “the DAP may be opportunistic, seeking to make political capital out of this (Dr. Basmullah) incident”, I would say so what, when the DAP has a record over 30 years of fighting for social justice – and taking political advantage of Dr. Basmullah’s predicament to advance its political agenda is entirely consistent with and in character with the DAP’s political platform and other “do good” actions of the last 30 years?

    Zack should note that there is no disjunct here between political stated beliefs and actions relating to the championing of social justice regardless of race, creed and religion.

    Thirdly, why would Zack or anyone have a gripe about the DAP’s taking political advantage of Dr. Basmullah’s predicament if in the consequential process of it doing so, the significant others like Dr. Basmullah – and doctors opposed to PHFSA’s iniquities – reap the benefit and also obtain advantage?

    Even in such political hypocrisy alleged by Zack, if true, it is “good” hypocrisy because it benefits others. There is no element of harm to others resulting from the hypocrisy.

    Now as illustration, contrast this to those who talk of the virtues and multiracial tolerance of plural society one day and on the next brandish the keris championing the cause of one ethnic group against and at the expense of the other groups; or the people who talk of religious tolerance in one breath and on the next look away at body snatching and other manifestations of extremism.

    Now that is “bad” hypocrisy because here (1) there is proven disjunct between stated beliefs and actions or inaction; here there is motivation to appear moral yet, in other occasion, either avoid the cost of actually being moral or engage in behaviour and action contradictory to professed belief; (2) others get harmed by such hypocritical behaviour.

    Political hypocrisy can be a pragmatic virtue or an oppressive vice in Malaysian politics : so by my measurement, it is not the question of hypocrisy per se that is wrong or who practises it but the way the hypocrisy is practised and its consequences to others, whether bringing benefits or harm.

  15. #15 by palmdoc on Friday, 8 February 2008 - 9:23 am

    We are not naive to the fact that all politicians are opportunists. But I am glad the opportunity taken here is to help someone treated unjustly. If not for the DAP who else actually took concrete action? The Health Mnisiter Actor who “Kata Nothing”? The DG who proclaimed “he chose to go to jail”? The MMA leadership fighting amongst themselves?

    The greater hypocrisy can be found in those who claim that graft and corruption will be eradicated when we see only the opposite happening, when leadership claims to have Big Ears but do not tolerate dissent and don’t want to hear differing opinions, when those in power “Close one eye” and when there are leaks everywhere in the system they say “Mana ada bocor?”

  16. #16 by sotong on Friday, 8 February 2008 - 9:28 am

    The system is working for the rich and well connected – politically and economically.

  17. #17 by mobileworld on Friday, 8 February 2008 - 11:00 am

    I fully agree, if people like Saudara Karpal and Saudara LKS do not take up issues like this, we will end up with the dogs! Simple scenario…..what happend to the whole saga in Klang, if it was any other commoner, his house would have been torn down for not having the proper docs and payment of assesments……in this case he got away scot free……where is the justice when you require it….well i guess they are all too busy at Jalan Duta Court complex making a new movie!

  18. #18 by UzMiNoOnist on Friday, 8 February 2008 - 11:14 am


    The photo posted here is better than the one we seen for Emperor’s New Clothes. This photo shown a group of people that have the interest of the community in their heart as compared to our AAB’s family photo that have KJ’s interest in his heart.

    Both are taking advantage of their political position, if Zack is in the shoe of Dr. Basmullah, whose photo would you rather have?

  19. #19 by laifoong on Saturday, 9 February 2008 - 12:32 am

    Aiyyah…! This zack don’t understand what ‘hypocrisy’ is…..he thought it was some sickness his grandfather suffered from….maybe Earnest the walking library can help out….??

  20. #20 by LadyGodiva on Saturday, 9 February 2008 - 3:37 am

    The DAP taking up issues involving downtrodden and underprivileged Malays and over their constitutional rights like the right to put on a burqa-like attire to work (although she lost), speaks well of the party’s struggle for social justice. When it does it comes out as a slap in the face of UMNO.

    We should not expect them to welcome such ‘intervention’ by the DAP. Politicizing issues? Sure. Nothing wrong with that!

  21. #21 by catharsis on Saturday, 9 February 2008 - 9:16 pm

    It is an irony though when our Uncle Lim and Uncle Kapar coming out to seek justice for those agrieved……………..and where are our Government FOR THE PEOPLE AND BY THE PEOPLE in seeking justice for Dr. Basmullah……………Mr PM, Dr. Basmullah is a warga negara paying your wages too- just reflect on this

  22. #22 by dranony on Sunday, 10 February 2008 - 1:23 am

    The REAL HYPOCRITE here is Zack!

    In his post, he implies that Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh are not helping Dr Basmullah in the interests of pursuing justice.
    He further implies that he “knows who Karpal Singh is” and that others do not.
    fyi, I see Karpal Singh as someone who is dead set against Islamic Theocracy (aka “Mullahcracy”), but he is not against the freedom of any individual professing his own belief in Islam, or any in fact any other religion.
    In fact, I see Karpal Singh as being against _anyone who would force his/her own religious beliefs upon others_ who do not share the same beliefs. He has been consistent throughout, in this stand.
    It is NOT about “anti” any religion, but about being against the “compulsion of one religion upon others.”

    I see Karpal Singh as willing to help _someone else of another religion_, simply because of the fact that someone has been subject to injustice under an unjust law or unjust application of the law.

    Zack only shows his own hypocrisy by accusing others of hypocrisy. It is obvious that Zack has some preconceived ideas about the political stand or principles of others, whom he is berating others for ostensibly betraying. However, it is obvious that his own bigotry is betrayed via his outburst.
    Zack portrays himself as speaking aloud for the wellbeing of Dr Basmullah, in accusing Karpal Singh and Lim Kit Siang of “using” him. Zack fails totally to consider the wellbeing of Dr Basmullah and his wife and family at all, if KS and LKS were not to offer their help at all.
    That, is Zack’s hypocrisy.

  23. #23 by shamshul anuar on Monday, 11 February 2008 - 11:02 pm

    Dear Palmdoc,

    With due respect to you, please get the facts right. You can start by reading the recent statement by Ketua Setiausaha Kementerian Kesihatan on this particular case.

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