Monday, June 30, 2008

Expected announcement at an unexpected time

Dato’ Seri Ong Ka Ting’s announcement that he will not seek re-election as MCA President was not unexpected. However, it was expected to be announced only after division election. Certain events which are not known to me must have precipitated him to make the earlier announcement. I find it difficult to believe that he have planned not to seek re-election 3 months ago. Certain tactical moves undertaken by him within the party after the election in March indicated that he was more inclined to seek re-election. He declined the nomination as a minister in order for the brother to get into cabinet.

He must have encountered many problems in discharging his duty as a MCA President. I understand from reliable sources that he had great difficulty in trying to see the Prime Minister and this has rendered him impotent in trying to solve Chinese community’s problem. This may be one of this reasons that caused his premature announcement rather than agonizing it. His position then becomes untenable as President of MCA without a Cabinet post. He virtually became a lame duck. I respect his decision not to seek re-election and I hope MCA members remain calm and united to face the party election. While he may not seek re-election, I’m sure unseen hands will be at work to ensure members who are allied to him will be voted in at the division, state and national elections.





A reply to Dr. Suresh K's comment in "Recognition of Unregistered Medical Degrees"

Prior to the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998, private healthcare facilities were licensed under the Private Hospital Act 1971 which only enabled the control of 3 types of private healthcare facilities, namely private hospitals, private maternity homes and private nursing homes. The standards imposed were minimal and non-specific, and the private sector has little information on how to establish a proper healthcare facility. The control of such licensed facilities was confined to inspection visits only as there was no provision for proper enforcement. The only penalty imposed was for operating a private healthcare facility without licence and that too was minimal, not exceeding RM1,000. There was no provision for the registration of medical and dental clinics.

The introduction of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 and Regulations 2006, and their enforcement from May 2006, changed all these. The new Act and Regulations enabled the setting up of dedicated enforcement units in all states and a dedicated section at headquarter to monitor, inspect and ensure compliance to the new Act and Regulations.

All medical and dental clinics have now to be registered, and this facilitates inspections and checks by our enforcement officers. Enforcement officers are now empowered to seal unregistered clinics and weed out bogus doctors and unqualified personnel, all for the sake of protecting the public from unsafe practices.

The new Act now provides for the licensing of 12 types of private healthcare facilities ranging from the previous 3 to new entities like hospices, haemodialysis centres and ambulatory care centres. Quality and safety standards on physical structure, facilities, equipment, manpower and processes are provided for. All new private healthcare facilities now have to apply firstly, for an approval to establish their facility, and then, within 3 years of approval, a licence to operate the facility. The licence to operate is renewable every 2 years. These provisions enable the Ministry to ensure that private healthcare facilities continue to comply with the required standards to ensure that the services provided are safe, effective and of quality.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

PAS’ social value

Every time when I say that we should be suspicion of PAS, a lot of people will condemn me. Today, I’ll say it again. PAS with its Islamic agenda has not shown its true colours because it is not in control of the federal government. Even then, they will try hard to push for their Islamic value at the state level. First, they objected to the artist performance in Selangor and now they have this directive in Kelantan so that Muslim ladies are not supposed to wear high heels and red lipsticks.

The Muslim ladies are often blamed that such dressing would provoke the men causing rape and illicit sex. PAS leaders seem to forget what will happen to the non-Muslim ladies with red lipsticks and high heels? Are they going to be raped and sexually abused by men who cannot control themselves? While you and I may laugh at their beliefs, some of these Muslim leaders from PAS really believe in control environment and they will be very upset if their value system is challenged. Politicians should not continue to harp that women are the cause for all sexual abuses and have the simplistic view that if all women are in robe, then there will be no cases of rape.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Government servant as petty traders?/ 公务员兼商的利弊


1. 要启营生意需要一笔资金,若身无分文他们则必须向政府或MARA(土著)贷款。这种情况下自营生意,预见贷款摊还率将非常低。
2. 任何一种生意都需要特定的专业技术和经验。若从零开始,此刻才开始学习做生意的窍门,无可避免他们会分心,以致忽略正职,直接影响了在正职的表现。
3. 如果他们将营业执照出租,而没有亲身参与和经营这盘生意,可能会招致滥用资源等弊端。
4. 此外,这也会在传统的同行间制造竞争,促使同行迁怒于公务员。





First, the government talked about part time job for government servant and I’ve written about this in my blog 3 weeks ago. Now, the government is thinking to give license to government servant to be petty traders on short term basis. Again, I must say that this is not a well thought out plan.

1) To start a small business, you need capital and if they take a small loan from government or MARA if they are bumiputra, it is likely they will default.
2) Any form of business needs expertise and experience. It cannot start from nowhere. If they start learning the trick of the trade, they will neglect their work.
3) Abuse will definitely set in since they can rent out license and they become absentee operators.
4) It creates competition and makes the traditional small petty traders angry with government servant.

The government should seriously think of coming out with cash or Cash of Living Allowance (COLA) to help the lower income group to tie over this difficult period. In the same way, the government should impress upon the private sector to do the same. We must not forget, out of the 10 million workforces, only 1 million is with the government, the remaining 9 million is with the private sector. The lower income group in private sector is equally suffering since majority of workers are receiving less that RM1500 per month and it is difficult to survive for a family of three on income of only RM1500 per month.
Direct funding by cash is one option that government should seriously consider. It is simple and directly benefiting the lower income group. The windfall profit from the increase of the oil price can be a source of this funding. For every US$1 increase in oil price, Petronas will make RM250 million per year. Since oil price has gone up from US$60 to US$130 a barrel in the last 2 years, Petronas is looking to bumper profit this year. I’m not advocating that Petronas profit should all be channeled as subsidy for petrol, rather one of the options is direct cash aid to the poor. What the government needs to do is to determine at what income level before they are entitled to these funding.

Logging in Kuala Muda, Kedah/ 森林贮水保护区伐木,吉打州政府逆民意而行


在从政事业初期,我的职务与环境及森林发展密不可分。我曾担任柔佛州环境委员会主席9年,同时兼任柔佛兴楼云冰(Endau Rompin)国家公园技术委员会主席长达12年。在任职期间,我感到最高兴和欣慰的是成功说服丹麦环境发展合作(DANCED)局,赞助600万令吉在兴楼云冰野林展开环境生态的教育和研究计划。此计划推行后,州政府也在2001年成功举办第2届兴楼云冰科学考察。这些促进湿地生态复育和研究发展的行动,最终引起国际社会组织的注意,更接纳我的申请,将丹绒比艾及蒲来河列为RAMSAR(注)国际重要湿地。






I’m surprised and disappointed that despite the chorus of protest, the Kedah Menteri Besar is still adamant about logging the catchment area of Kuala Muda. I understand that this is the source of water for Penang island.

In the early part of my political career, I’ve always been closely associated with environment and forest development. I was the chairman of the Environment Committee in Johor for 9 years and also the chairman of the Technical Committee for Endau Rompin, Johor for 12 years. Hence, I can claim it was during this time that I managed to convince a team from DANCED (Danish Cooperation for Environment and Development) to finance an education and research project of RM6 million, deep in the jungle of Endau Rompin, an area that stretches to 45, 000 hectare on the Johor site. The second scientific expedition into Endau Rompin was also launched in the year 2001. I managed to get Tanjung Piai, the southern most tip of the continent of Asia and Sg. Pulai to be listed as the Ramsar site.

I must admit that it was during these years as chairman that I learn a lot to value the forest and the environment. Hence, I’m surprised when the MB of Kedah announced that he’s using helicopter logging which has never been tried in this country before and it is only suitable for a large forest area. He may known very little about forest management and hence ill advised. To the Kedah MB, it is God send money.

It is difficult to monitor selective logging through the helicopter. Any disruption in the catchment area will lead to erosion and pollution, often a disaster in the catchment area. Most politicians can only think of logging as revenue for the state since this is the easiest and fastest way of deriving revenue. Unfortunately, this is often unsustainable since monitoring and supervision is poor in the jungle. Loggers working hand in hand with the forestry officer are a well known fact that when they build track roads, trees which are not supposed to be chopped off will be chopped off. That’s where they derive most profits and in the case of Kuala Muda, they are supposed to do a track road of 300km. This will be to unmitigated disaster. The state government should get the advice of the Malaysia Nature Society (MNS) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for proper professional advice. These 2 NGOs used to sit in my committee in Johor for the development of forest area and I find their advice invaluable. EIA studies are often academic since it is difficult to supervise mitigating measure done in the jungle. The forestry and environment department are sadly lacking in manpower and expertise.

The PR state government of Selangor should be communicating with the PR government of Kedah since I’ve read a lot about the PR government of Selangor, criticizing the previous state government for allowing development on the slope in Selangor. Maybe they are in communication that I’m not aware off, or advice has fallen on deaf ears.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Speak But Not Heard




After I have resigned, I find difficulties in getting my message into the mainstream media. Chinese press is only interested in interviewing me about the forthcoming MCA election, but not on the current issue that affects the community. I try not to talk about MCA election since it is still 4 months away.

I have been invited as a panel speaker in a lot of political forum together with the Yang Berhormat from PR Coalition. Except the public forum with The Star and Sinchew Daily, the rest of the forums do not make it into the media. I have also officiated many functions organized by NGOs, in a same way; it did not make it to the press. In all these functions, I spoke about current affairs of the country, the emergence of 2 party system in Malaysia, the future direction of MCA, major economic issue such as fuel hike, inflation etc. Unfortunately, very little of this make it to the press.

I have said it before in Malaysia, when you are appointed as Minister today the media will pay attention although what your say is not news worthy. But if you resign as a Minister, you become invisible to the press, more so if what you have said is critical of MCA or BN leadership. As for criticism that is directed at MCA top leadership, there seems to be some unseen hand manipulating media contents so that it will not go public.

Therefore readers, please bear with me. It is not true that I am not articulating my thoughts in the main stream media, it just that I have less chance to get into the print media.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Minimum Wage in Malaysia/ 私人领域实行最低薪金





实施法定基薪惠及受聘人士,然而有关政策亦存有一些争议,包括对雇用市场、生产力、竞争能力和通膨的效应。 有关当局担忧会加剧失业问题,而尤以低生产力员工和短工的失业率会大幅度增加。大马制造业雇主联合会(MEF)也认为,基薪政策或导致大马的生产成本增加而失去竞争力,也会迫走外资,这会直接影响雇佣市场。



With inflation crippling up every day, It is time to think of a minimium wage in the private sector.

According to International Labour Organisation (ILO), minimum wage is the amount that must be paid to the majority of a country, generally on an hourly, daily or monthly basis. It is fixed ideally to cover the minimum needs of the worker and his/her family based on national economic and social conditions. More than 90 % of countries have legislation regarding minimum wage and Malaysia is not one of them. The Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) has called for this legislation and in its latest memorandum to Prime Minister on 18th. of June 2007, has requested the government to pass a minimum wage legislation to be applicable to all workers. By having a decent minimum wage, it will attract more Malaysian workers and reduce dependency on foreign labour. What is more important is to alleviate poverty and improve their livelihood.

The MTUC has requested RM900 minimum wage based on the essential and basic needs of a single person. Out of the amount, 50% goes to food and subsistence and other components include RM135 for accommodation, RM130 for transport and the rest contribution to EPF, SOCSO and other expanses. MTUC has also requested a RM300 payment for cost of living allowance (COLA) for all private sector workers due to the recent increases in food and other costs of living.

Some of the current issues in minimum wage policy include its impact on employment, productivity, inflation and the country’s competitiveness. There is fear that it will increase unemployment especially the very low productivity and casual workers. According to Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF), it will make Malaysia a more costly place to do business and thereby deter foreign investment and make Malaysia less competitive.

Instead of a single country-wide minimum wage, Malaysia can still adopt a minimum wage policy based on sectoral or occupational minimum wage. The cost of living differs from urban, rural, towns and Sabah and Sarawak. It can either be set by the government or through tripartite body. Factors that can be taken into considerations include both social and economic. They include cost of living, level of wages, safety net and economic factors include economic situation, employment and productivity levels.

It will increase productivity and efficiency as producers or employers will have to make these adjustments. Workers will have to change their attitudes towards work and increase productivity to be employed. Malaysia will not be dependent on cheap and low skilled foreign labour to drive its economy. Instead, we have to change our economy to attract more capital intensive investment and industries that require more highly skilled and trained workers. Those who work in the non-unionised sectors such as farm, plantation and factory workers will be protected with such legislation.

With an hourly minimum wage level, it will be more attractive for Malaysians to work part-time. The concept of part-time work should be encouraged so that more Malaysians can be put to work especially the youth and women. This will make them more independent and the country less dependent on foreign labour. Many highly trained women have left their careers to look after their families and they can be encouraged to go back to work with more flexi working time.

Hence, the time has come for the Government to set up a Wage Council with representatives from the government and private sectors in order to ensure that workers’ pay is reflective of the current economic scenario. All this should be adjusted to cope up with the inflation.

Sunday, June 22, 2008





Recognition of Unregistered Medical Degrees

The Malaysia Medical Council (MMC) recognizes more than 340 Medical Universities in the world. For a small nation like Malaysia it is a huge number. Even when I was a Minister I strongly felt that we should not continue to take the easy way out by recognizing more and more Medical Universities. Some of the existing Universities we recognize may have deteriorated in their standards and some may not even exist in their previous forms. It will be a difficult task to do a scheduled audit in view of the huge number of Universities involved. A good example is the University of Iraq which is recognized by MMC but I am sure is living on its past glory.

While some of the ‘unfit’ universities are being recognized, we cannot deny that some better universities have not been recognized. In the long term, it is good to have a common entry exam for all foreign Medical graduates. If they pass the examination they are allowed to practice in Malaysia. In the same way we should also promote a common entry exam for our local Medical Faculties.

While we are aware of the acute shortage of doctors, we should not compromise on the quality and recognize degrees from dubious universities. Our problem is that in our haste to overcome the shortage of doctors, we produce more locally or recognize more foreign medical degrees. In the process, the quality of doctors is compromised.

Unlike what the parents think, we actually allow graduates from unrecognized Medical Universities to sit for the local examination with maximum of 3 tries. If they fail in 3 attempts, I personally think they should think of changing their profession. It’s cruel to say this but it is a fact. There were a few who took my suggestion seriously and changed paths to medical related disciplines instead of medicine and they are happy with the choice.

Credit transfers from unrecognized Universities to a recognized University is another way. But it only partially solves the problem. I have had the opportunity to talk to some of the examiners. What they told me made me worried about the quality of some of the doctors who are practicing in Malaysia. We must not forget, ultimately the majority of these doctors will find their way into private practice.

One step taken then was to increase the housemanship to 2 years without affecting their promotion and their eligibility for post graduate studies. For doing that I was condemned by a lot of junior doctors. Every year on an average 3-5% of doctors are not signed up at the end of the housemanship. Supervision by the senior doctors in government hospitals is poor and often it is very people centric, and very much depends on the senior doctors concerned whether they are committed and dedicated to the job.

I would prefer to have shortage of doctors but the doctors who are practicing in the government or private hospital are of good quality, rather than a full house of doctors but who are no better than sin-seh. After all, if a doctor is not sure, he should do no harm to the patient.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Never DUMP Unexported food into Local Market!

I feel sad that we have to suspend our exports of seafood to EU pending auditing of Malaysian exporters. The export of seafood is a big industry in Malaysia where the export value is about a billion per year. It is indeed sad to see that the quality of frozen seafood has deteriorated to a stage where EU bans its import. In 2007 when I was a Minister of Health, I still remember that EU Inspectors who were in Malaysia were so enthusiastic about the quality of seafood from Malaysia, EU will not compromise and tolerate when come to the standard of food products.

The EU nations are known to very strict in enforcing all the health conditions before accepting any import. This goes to show that our seafood exporters have neglected the basic hygiene, storage and transportation of seafood after inspection and auditing by EU. Malaysia seafood exporters should not take for granted that once they are accepted by EU, they will remain so forever.

I hope this frozen seafood which will not be exported will not be dumped into Malaysia market for local consumption. This will be grossly unfair to Malaysian that what is not suitable for EU nations are suitable for Rakyat Malaysia. This reminds me that Johor, which is exports vegetable, chicken, eggs and fruits to Singapore almost daily which valued about RM300 to 400million per year. The Singapore government is equally stringent on the control of pesticide and bacterial contamination on our products. When the products are rejected by the Singapore Government, the Johor State Agriculture and Health Departments has to ensure this product will not be dumped in Johor market. Some years ago, there was some controversy when some of the exporters dumped their products in Johor and were subsequently exposed.

In short, enforcement agency of Malaysia must ensure that what is not good for consumption by others is also not good to Malaysian.






Thursday, June 19, 2008

Another political drama

SAPP’s motion of no confidence against the Prime Minister is one from the high political drama. But it is unlikely to lead to a mass defection on Barisan Nasional’s partnership. SAPP has only 2 members of Parliament and 4 state assemblymen in Sabah. So pulling out of BN draws a lot of attention and it only serves to shake UMNO. But BN will be continuing in power.

In this context, a favorite question is why MCA not leaving BN?

MCA’s association with UMNO has a long history dating back to pre-independence. Through thick and thin MCA, MIC has been with UMNO. In the post 308 change political landscape, MCA has been often been accused as a running dog of UMNO. The younger generation has forgotten the early days of Malaya and the later days of Malaysia, It was through a close collaboration of MCA, MIC and UMNO that provided a solid foundation of 3 major races to work together. This formed the basis of the political and social stability in this country.

Unfortunately this is often been disregarded and dismissed by many younger generations that MCA like to live on the past glory and forget the future challenges. There is a tendency of taking for granted the social cohesion and stability which is in reality is fragile. MCA leaving BN is a big issue that needs detail deliberation. When we leave the government and the cabinet, who looks after the Chinese interest? Will PAS, DAP or PKR who has no representation in the cabinet be able to do so? It is often easier said than done.

While we may not be performing up to the expectation of the Chinese but this crucial role should not be taken lightly. I have the opportunity to serve at the state cabinet as EXCO for 3 terms and Federal Cabinet Minister nearly 1 term, my concern is if MCA leave BN, can MCA stand alone? Even DAP found it difficult and has to join forces with PAS and PKR.

I have said many times, can we trust PAS? Work with the devil you know than the devil you don’t know. Until we are clear and sure the long term objective of PAS, we will not, and should not be comfortable sleeping with PAS. Not many people are aware that PAS has the biggest organization, better resources and more members than PKR which very Anwar centric. Until then, MCA will still remains with BN and together we weather the storm.

In the post 308 we have seen the likely emergence of the 2 party systems in this country. In the long term its good for the Rakyat. However, if everybody condemn and desert BN, again we are left with one party system, the PKR. So don’t be too euphoric. While BN may have messed up and not performed to the expectation, PR is still untested. Choose the partner that you know with all its defects and deficiencies, or a partner who is untested and of unknown quality? Be rational in our thinking and not be too emotional. We may be jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
沙巴进步党欲通过动议投不信认票倒伐首相,这可是大马政史上的一大政治剧。 尽管该党来势汹汹,但要致使国阵严重分裂似乎不太可能。现有2名国会议员和4名州议员的沙巴进步党若决定要退出国阵,确实将激起层层涟漪,引来全国瞩目,但最终或只能撼动巫统,不至于击跨国阵,国阵还是会继续稳坐中央。







Questioning PAS’s motive

I must congratulate and support the Sultan of Selangor for coming down hard on the state PAS Youth who protested against 2 artistes performing at the Selangor Cup matches between Selangor and Singapore. This is one example where ruler still has the role to play in a democratic society which is a multi-racial country. Nobody including PAS can impose Islamic value and others social values on other races. I hope it would serves as a warning to other Muslim leader not only from PAS but including UMNO who wanted to impose their Muslim value on other races.

Of course from this incident, as I have always said we should always be suspicious of the PAS leaders because even at the state level where they have no control over the Federal Government but are eagerly imposing their Islamic value to everyone, what’s more if PAS becomes the government at the Federal level?

So we hope the non Muslim should wake up to the political reality that we faced when PAS really comes into power at the Federal level.
雪州回青团抗议2名女艺人在雪兰莪苏丹杯赛前表演,让雪州苏丹大发雷霆,更严厉申斥回青团的举动。我非常感谢和支持苏丹的回应。这起事件,证明在大马这个民主之国,各州统治者仍有一定的要角,雪州苏丹的反应也体现他对多元种族社会的认可和肯定, 而且绝不允许任何一方面包括回教党,对其他族群实施回教教义,或有违该族群本质的其他社会价值。我希望我国所有的回教徒领袖,包括回教党和巫统能引此为鉴。



Fuel increase and inflation

Talking about the increase of oil prices, it is an unpopular move by the government, more so with the sudden steep increase that cut across and affects everybody. I’ve always said that the BN government should do more to help the poor and the service industries. If the BN government is unable to control inflation, then I am sure it is difficult to be able to get the support of the rakyat. It is a difficult job trying to control inflation. There are many forces at play outside of the control of the government. Meanwhile, the PR leaders will continue to play on these dissatisfactions without offering any concrete proposal. Not to increase the price of oil is not the solution in the long term

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

MCA MPs crossing over? Very unlikely!

With regard to Anwar’s comment that MCA MPs crossing over to PR, I think Anwar is behaving in his usual self. He’s trying to pull a fast one and he is bluffing. Reason is simple, there are only 15 MPs in MCA, 10 of them have position in the government, 4 as Ministers and 6 as deputy minister and it is unlikely that any of these with government position would defect to PR. The remaining 5 MPs from MCA who are backbencher includes the President, the vice President Dr. Fong, my son Chua Tee Yong and 2 other senior MCA MPs, and the 5 backbenchers are unlikely to defect to PR. Imagine the President of MCA crossing over to PR, which is unlikely, very, very unlikely.

Anwar has been feeding the rumour mile of BN MPs crossing over to PR. If this occurs, it will be unlikely to be from MPs in Peninsular Malaysia. If there is, it is very likely (with due respect to Sabah and Sarawak) to be from the smaller coalition partners of BN in Sabah and Sarawak.

As for me, I have been with MCA for nearly 30 years. There is no reason for me to crossover to PR. I feel that PR which is a marriage of 3 political parties is able to be together, basically because of Anwar Ibrahim. Any form of cooperation, especially in a multiracial country which is dependent on one person is a very dangerous form of cooperation.

We have not seen the real PAS with its Islamic agenda. Personally, I am suspicious of PAS leader. I feel that they are not talking about the Islamic agenda because they know it will be a waste of time since they are not in control of the federal government. Any changes that can be done at the state level is more likely to be cosmetic, unlikely to be substantial and it will only drive away the non Muslim from supporting PAS and PR. PAS, which has a bigger organization, more resources and also with better experience in running the state government is not foolish to talk about Islamic agenda openly until they are ready to do so when they are in the federal government.

What a weekend!

Last week, it was a busy weekend for me. I started the day at 8.00a.m. officiating the charity run, organized by the INTI international University in collaboration with the ROLF blue ribbon campaign. I was surprised by the good turn-up with more than 1000 people. I was given the opportunity to give away the prizes and also the presentation of the mock cheque to the Malaysian Pediatric Association. Basically, this run is organized by ROLF which is a charity organization with specific theme and campaign every year. This year, it’s called the Blue Ribbon Campaign whose main focus is to raise money so that they will be able to provide funding to childhood cancer and hopefully campaign like this would also help to raise not only money, but also the awareness of childhood cancer in this country.

Childhood cancer is in fact an important cause of cancer and often it is one of the leading causes of death among children. Unfortunately, like other developing country, childhood cancer is often detected late and treatment is often at a very late stage. In most cases, it look like a death sentence once the diagnosis is made. This should not be because with modern therapy, most childhood cancer have fairly good prognosis if they are detected earlier. Often, parents are in the state of denial when the childhood cancer is diagnosed. Often, they think that why should their young kid come down with cancer and they tend to associate cancer with the adult and often they will go shopping for doctors in order that the diagnosis may not be cancer and because of this delay and denial and unwillingness to subject the child to further treatment that cancer in children are detected late in this country and the prognosis are bad. So, campaign like the Blue Ribbon Campaign will help to instill people that childhood cancer does occur and every year in Malaysia, it affects about 1500 children. As I’ve said earlier, it can be treated if it is detected earlier but more can be done especially in the schools. Treatment is affordable in this country because it is heavily subsidized by the government. The Ministry of Health hospital treatment for childhood cancer for school children will be free. For those who are not school children, the maximum charges will not be more than RM500. Compared to the private centre, childhood cancer treatment can be very expensive and can reach up to about RM100, 000 – 200, 000. In fact, there’s a need for funding by the private sector for those who for some reasons because of backlog of cases in the hospital have opted out to receive treatment in the private sector. I am glad that I have been associated with this movement in the last 2 years.

At night I was in Batu Pahat to raise fund for Sichuan earthquake victims in Batu Pahat. It was quite an innovative way of raising fund through basketball involving Singapore Broadcasting artistes and also Malaysian artistes. I am not surprise that Singapore artistes seriously received a more enthusiastic applause and response from Malaysian crowd in the stadium in BP. The stadium can accommodate 4000 people was fairly packed and I was told by the organizer that they raised about RM300, 000. Congratulations for the good work done.

The next morning on Sunday, I officiated a fund raising ceremony for the Cheng Siew Chinese primary school. The fund raising was basically to kick off a series of fundraising by the board and PIBG of Cheng Siew in order that they can collect enough money of RM3-4 million to build 42 new classes and also a new canteen. Of course, to raise fund for Chinese schools has always been part of the work of MCA leaders. In fact, most MCA leaders and elected representatives spend at least 30 percent of their time attending Chinese school functions, including collecting money for school development. This has also been a sore point among Chinese that the government has not been fair in dispersing money to Chinese schools because under the Education Act, most of the land of Chinese schools that belong to the school board are not entitled to full funding when it comes to development. Any form of funding that is required is always very dependent on the hard work of the PIBG, the school board and the generous contribution from the Chinese community. This has always been a sore point for the Chinese educationists and this is also a point that causes the lost of confidence and votes to MCA and BN government. There is a need to find a better solution to funding and since there is a 5 year development plan every year in our country, the needs of the Chinese schools even where the land belongs to the board (bantuan modal school) should also be entitled to a more fair and democratic way of funding from the government and this should be done in a more transparent way so that the school funding will not be too dependent on contribution from Chinese community and also from who you know especially through political connection, then only can they get some funding from the ministry of education. Often, these funding would be announced just before the general election. This is often regarded as distributing sweets or goodies to the community and has been counter productive and some Chinese has regarded this as an insult to the community that the government is only keen to help Chinese school when election is nearby in the hope that because of the funding, Chinese vote will go to BN.

MCA should now advocate that since the Chinese education is part of the main stream of education and education is democratic rights of every citizen and that education freedom is enshrined in the constitution, the time has come for the government to be more fair and democratic in distributing funding to Chinese schools and that they should not be waiting until near election or visits by some ministers before the election and announcing the funding. This I am sure would help to restore a lot of confidence in BN government. Meanwhile, the Pakatan Rakyat government has been saying things which the Chinese like to hear about Chinese schools, but till this date, they have not done anything significant or to show what they said been translated into policy.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Trimming the government’s fat/ 替政府“瘦身”

Because of the rising fuel price, the government needs to balance its budget so as not to affect the credit rating of Malaysia at the international market. From the cost cutting announcement made by the PM, we save about RM2 billion per year. Our operating budget is about RM128.8 billion and development is about RM48.1 billion per year. So, the RM2 billion cut is insignificant. The 10% cut in Minister’s allowance is just symbolic.

Malaysia has this culture that when there is a function, a lot of expenditure are incurred on trivial things in order to make it a big splash. There is a lot of wastage on food and souvenirs. Even at the state level, the same sin is committed. There is one Ministry where every weekend, there are seminars throughout the whole country and this are often held in 5 star hotels and if there are non in the town, they will seek the best hotel in town. Another favourite outing for Ministry’s staffs is brainstorming. When I was the Minister, I prohibited brainstorming sessions to be held outside KL since brainstorming requires your brain rather than facilities of hotels. At that time, I even prevented functions to be held in hotel unless the crowd is big and international. A lot of ministry staffs like to hold functions in the hotel, away from Putrajaya because there are less work and more claim for mileage if its more than 30km from Putrajaya. This expenditure can be very substantial in any ministries. I see no reason why the government is worried that if less function is held in hotel, it will affect their bottom line. Hotels should be dependant on their in house guest rather than to be dependant on government’s function. There is over provision of food and tea break. We should copy from China. I had the opportunity of attending a number of conferences in China where the breakfast, tea break, lunch and dinner during function and meeting are simple. Why must we spend RM200 for food per day per person? If the government start throwing out all these unnecessary frails of the daily operating expenditure, we save well over more than RM2 billion a year.

We are famous for building the longest cake, the longest flag, longest popiah, a lot of forms but no value added component. Malaysia should condemn ministers and ministries in undertaking such program at this time of cost cutting. We spend a lot on gimmicks. Some gimmicks needs expenditure of RM150, 000 – RM200, 000. Why do we need a gimmick? It is the content of seminar that is more important. Having cultural performance as part of entertainment should also be toned down.

All these efforts would save the government billions every year. Look at how Singapore conducts its official ceremony, including international ceremonies!

Civil Servant working part time

We have a bloated civil service with about 1.1 million people, including the army and police. When we started privatization, one of the main reasons was to trim the civil servants. At that that time about 20 years ago, with the labour workforce about 8 million and 1 million of civil servants, we are talking about in every 8 workers, there is 1 civil servant. After many privatization exercises, Telekom, TNB and etc, the number of civil servant was cut down to its original level of about 800, 000. Last year, civil servants were given about a 35% increase in salary. As far as I know, there was no such increase in salary in private sector.

The poor government delivery system is also one of the causes of the failure of BN government to fulfill its promises. The workers in local authorities can be regarded as mother of all inefficiency since they are the one that comes into contact with the rakyat, and with the growth of inefficiency, indifference and corruption, it has also become the cause of friction between the local residents and government agency. Since local authority comes directly under the state government, any federal government initiatives seem to be going no where. It is also a well known fact that part of these inefficiency and indifference among the local authority workers is that a lot of them are engaged in part-time work which unfortunately become full time. A lot of them end up as hawkers, taxi drivers, some working in restaurants and since they are from local authority, even if they are illegally operating, the enforcement officer will also close one eye and this forms another source of dissatisfaction of rakyat when it comes to enforcement by local authority. If the government allows civil servants to work part time officially, I’m afraid there will definitely be abuse, productivity affected and commitment to job lacking. Imagine government servants from enforcement units are allowed to work in private sector.

When it comes to combating inflation, it’s not just the pay. It is the lifestyle that is important. Go to any golf club, including in the smaller town, it is not uncommon to find that the early golfers are government servants. While I am not saying that government servant should not play golf, they should not be there during office hours to indulge in expensive batting and also possessing fanciful and expensive golf set and attire. Government should impress government servants that they should cut their clothes according to their size. No amount of increase of salary or supplementary income will be able to cope up with the rate of inflation unless we change our lifestyle. If you go for lunch in any hotels (not a cheap way of lunch), you will bump into mid level government officers, enjoying lunch.

Government should not encourage their own workers to work part time. What happened if the private sector also allows their workers to work part-time after office hours? There are a lot of qualified and skilled woman who are not working because of rather rigid working hours. We should encourage flexi working hours, especially in private sectors because this will encourage those presently unemployed to work. This I’m sure will supplement the income of a lot of family. Only 45% of Malaysia women are working compared to developed country that runs from 70-80% because of availability of flexi hours of employment. I’m sure this will help to reduce foreign workers.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

文告:3人小组事件成历史,马华要关注经济课题 The Result of Snoop Squad Investigation is Much Expected








“燃油涨价后国能率先调高电费,我也接获投诉指液化石油气(Liquefied Petroleum Gas )亦涨了120%。我国的工业多依靠液化石油气发动电流操作,这表示工业的生产和营运成本将至少增加5至20%。”



The finding of the investigation is as much as I expected. I attended the hearing session as I was asked to, otherwise I would have given it a miss. To me, I’m sure most MCA members and Chinese community will agree with me that there are more pressing issues confronting MCA, than whether the snoop squad exists.

The fuel increase and the subsequent increase in electric tariff will ultimately lead to increase in cost of production and inflation. I’ve just received complaints that Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) price has gone up by 120%. Labour intensive industries that consume a lot of electricity based on LPG would have their cost of production increased by 5-20 percent depending on the nature of industry. This will definitely cause the industry to lose money. We may expect that there will be some slow down and retrenchment. To me, these are more important issues that MCA need to address and if MCA continues to harp on snoop squad issue, people will be sick of us and eventually abandon us.














Monday, June 9, 2008

Public Transportation System: Urgent Need to Improve Efficiency/ 提升公共交通系统乃当务之急



Now that the government has partially removed the fuel subsidy, it should now move forward to develop an integrated public transportation system. This should be the number one and top most priority in the major towns in Klang Valley, Penang and JB and subsequently expanding to other cities and towns like Seremban, Ipoh, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.

While we pride ourselves that we have one of the best road systems in the world, we also have the most toll highways. While there is massive infrastructure development, there is very little development on public transportation system and this is done on a very ad-hoc basis. Besides, there is very little integration of the transport system which deters the public from using the public transport. The fare for public transportation system itself is not cheap either.

Because of the inconveniences that the commuter has to go through and the poor integration of the rail, bus ad taxi, the commuter has no choice but to opt for their own transports. An international study conducted a few years ago had rated the KL transport system as worst than Bangkok, while we continue to convince ourselves that we have a good road system and have the highest number of car ownership in ASEAN.

With the escalating fuel cost, lack of public transportation system has become an economic and social problem to average commuters. Unless the government can improve the transportation system in Klang valley, it will continue to be the hot issues for the Pakatan Rakyat.

Apart from that, the taxis in Klang valley are also facing problem as the result of this poor transportation system. At the airports, there is absolute monopoly of taxis and taxi touts are the first person to greet you when you step out of KLIA. Welcome to Malaysia and be prepared to be cheated by the touts. Taxi permit is given to politically connected people and remains in the domain of the bumiputra. To aggravate the situation, the taxi permit holders outsource their permit for a fee. The taxi operators are left with no choice but to be anti-government and at times to be unscrupulous in order to make ends meet. A revamp of the taxi system from award of taxi permit to a more reasonable taxi fare to reflect the current fuel hike should be introduced and enforcement needs to be stepped up. Until then, public dissatisfaction towards the government will continue to grow.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Local councilors in PR-controlled states

Both the Pakatan Rakyat state government in Perak and Selangor have not finalized the appointment of local authority councillors. No major decisions have been made by the local authorities since 308 election. I hope that they are not fighting over allocations of councillors among the component parties.

Other than highlighting the weaknesses of previous state administrator and some minor popular policies, I’ve not seen any significant major policy changes or improvement by PR state government. PR must remember that they are now the ruling party in the state and they should execute policies that are of benefit to the rakyat rather than just criticizing over issues by the previous administrator and doing nothing about it. Therefore, they should appoint local councillors as soon as possible to avoid delays to the solve rakyat’s problem.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Impact of Petrol Price Increase/ 燃油涨价:政府须正视人民的诉求





The much awaited announcement has finally arrived. Petrol price at the international market have gone up by 100% since May last year. Everyone has to bite the bullet because of the increase of petrol and its impact on all industries and household. However, I’m disappointed that government’s subsidy to the lower income group is a bit too little to tie them over the increase cost of living. The government should be able to do more with the increased revenue from petroleum and export of other commodities – oil palm and rubber.

Last year at this time, petrol was hovering at about US$60 – 70 per barrel. Today, it has gone up to US$135 per barrel. For every US one dollar increase in oil at international market, Malaysia as an exporting country will get RM250 million per year. There should be a bumper profit for Petronas last year and this year and the government should be able to subsidize the lower income group in terms of cash. Presently, cash rebate of RM625 works out to be only about RM52 per month which is a pittance, considering that petrol price having gone up from RM1.92 per litre to RM2.70 (40%). A cash rebate of at least RM1500 per year would be a more appropriate figure since Malaysians have to face higher electricity tariff. With it, there is definitely increase in cost of production, cost of goods both essential and non essential will definitely go up. Two years ago, a bowl of kuay teow costs about RM3.00 but it has now increased to RM3.80/4.00.

So, the government needs to do more before the cost of living becomes a major political issue. Rakyat will be watching how government will tackle inflation. Failure to address this issue which hits all Malaysian and cost the government a lot of good will and votes from the rakyat. I always feel that the Malaysia government overbuilt and over budgeted on building of infrastructure. A lot of primary schools, secondary schools and universities, new clinics and hospitals look like resort. The government wants to impress the rakyat with imposing buildings, forgetting that in the case of healthcare, it is the quality of services that counts. This explained why during my tenure as a Minister, I would never consider building a new general hospital but maximize and make the best use of the limited resources to upgrade the existing healthcare facilities, equipments and trainings. Government must start somewhere to curb this wastage to avoid it becoming worse and more public fund goes to waste.

We can only hope that the government can come out with more innovative and caring policies and strategies to assist the rakyat that are affected by the increase of petrol price and inflation.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

National Service

National Service is a good program and one should not condemn it just because of some incidents including death. When you get a big number of 80000 people undergoing training, accidents and undesirable incidents are bound to occur. It is the people who run the program that should be made more sensitive, sensible and committed. I’ve met many trainees who vouched that they have no hesitation undergoing another training. For many young people, it is an experience leaving house for the first time and it is also an experience meeting and mixing with people from diverse background and races.

I fully agree that the quality of food can be very much improved and there is a need to cater to those who need special diet because of religion or medical condition. Apart from this, the commitment from camp commander will do a lot of good to elevate the suffering of these young trainees.

Related post: The Dilemma of National Service Training Program on 16/5/08

Role of MCA in scholarship

To be fair, not many people are aware of the role played by MCA in helping to secure more JPA scholarship for non-Malays in the Cabinet since 2000. Before 2000, every year, the number of scholarship given to non-Malays can be counted in one hand. This year, non-Malays have gone up to nearly 900. This progress has not been easy and often after the SPM and STPM result, MCA will monitor closely deserving students with good result whom should be given scholarship. Even individual cases were discussed in Cabinet.

Of course, one can argue that if selection has been fair, there is no need to involve the Cabinet to solve individual cases. In short, there have been tremendous improvement in fighting for scholarship but there are still rooms for improvement. The process of selection, especially interview should be made more transparent. Often, students with excellent academic result may not necessarily do well in interview and co-curricular activities, but it is important that the government should impress the rakyat that these 20 marks allocated for these 2 activities is not used as subtle ways to knock out deserving non-Malay students.





Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Petrol price/ 早日敲定燃油价格以安民心

It’s good to hear that the Malaysia government will finally announce a new petrol price for foreigners. This decision has been long overdue. Meanwhile, I’m given to understand that many Singaporeans are hesitant to come into JB due to the new ruling. However, Singaporeans just have to accept the fact that they have to pay petrol at market prices while in Malaysia, just like what they do in Singapore. Any delay by the government in announcing their new fuel scheme will send a wrong message and affect the tourism, investment climate and economic activities in Malaysia, more so in the Iskandar Development Region. Hopefully, Datuk Shahrir Samad, coming from JB should understand this problem more than anyone else.






It's Datuk Dr Tan Kee Kwong Now/ 陈记光医生事件的省思

Tan Kee Kwong was my college mate in the Medical Faculty in the University of Malaya. A serious and honest worker, however a little poor in his interaction with grassroot members. He should have the right to serve if he thinks that he can contribute. The trouble with the partisan politics in this country is that often there is a clear demarcation of whether you are white or black. So either you’re with us or against us. This is aggravated by infighting within the party. So, if you have a fallout with the leadership, you’re often marginalized in your party unless you make a determined effort to continue to serve and don’t care a damn about what the leadership is trying to do to you.

Datuk Dr. Tan after the Gerakan’s party election felt marginalized and that he had no role to play within Gerakan and since he had a fairly good knowledge on land matters, why not tap into the knowledge by serving in a position set up by the Pakatan Rakyat government? Good luck and best wishes in his new undertakings.

The BN state governments should take a leaf from PR and also set up special committees to resolve long standing land issues, especially among squatters and leasehold landholders. This committee will give room for BN members who are keen to continue to serve.Oother committees which should look into at the state level for issues of transportation, temple development and recreational activities (playground, sports centre). For BN government, the tendency is to appoint EXCOs to such tasks.
They normally have a lot of work and often attended functions but less work is done. Therefore, it is crucial for BN to consider appointing appropriate people in ensuring that work is carried out efficiently so that talented people remain in BN to serve the rakyat.

陈记光医生是我大学医学系系友。他待人诚实、处事认真,唯一的不足是和基层党员缺乏互动。对于他接受雪州民联政府委为土地管理特别委员会主席职,我认为,如果他有能力和强烈意愿继续为社会贡献,他有权力接受这项官委。只是,我国的政治生态黑白分明,你我非友则敌, 而这种现象在党内更加明显。从政者如果与党领导层不咬弦,尽管你才高八斗、实力出众也难逃被边缘化的命运。





Sunday, June 1, 2008

A reply to an email regarding NHFS

NHFS is a community based scheme and it’s not a privatized project or an insurance health scheme. The basic principle is that government will continue to subsidize healthcare but with the excess fund from those who can afford to pay for their healthcare used for other stuff. With the excess fund, it can be used to improve the environment, facilities, training and the service scheme of the health providers.

Unfortunately, when the overseas consultant who was appointed because the “EPU insisted on foreign consultants”, their report showed their total ignorance of the local healthcare system in the country and hence, the contract was terminated prematurely. Since then, I have no idea of the progress of the NHFS after I left the Ministry.

For the NHFS to be implemented, strong commitment and will is needed. First, it should not be profit oriented, the poor, the handicapped and the unemployed should remain the responsibility of the government. The pertinent question is where is the cut off point for people who can afford to pay. Second, to establish a complete data of the income of working Malaysians since there are a lot of people in this country who don't pay income tax although they are earning income that is taxable; and. Third, a system of rebates for people who contribute but never use the healthcare system of the government and last but not least, to establish an authority to supervise the scheme to prevent abuse.

Chronic Diseases/ 规范化检验防并发危机

I have read that patients with chronic disease like diabetes are to be outsourced to private doctors to reduce waiting time. It looks like a knee jeck reaction to the problem. About 30 percent of the patients in outpatient clinic in government hospital are hypertensive and diabetic. It cannot be denied that these 2 chronic diseases are badly managed.

Often the attending doctors after a very casual routine check of the patient will then prescribe medication by scrambling “repeat above”. Since there are chronic diseases affecting all major organs and with it complication, an important aspect is to be able to detect its complication at its initial stage. Unfortunately, this is often not done. Outsourcing private doctors will not solve this problem. Developing a standardized format in order for the symptoms and signs of this complication can be detected early, then nurses can be specially trained to handle these part of the job and presently. Some nurses in the hospital are pretty good at this except there are inadequate of nurses. I instructed that this format to be developed and special nurses be trained. As to its implementation, I have no idea after I have left. Nurses who are properly trained are often more efficient than the busy General Practitioner. Only when there are early signs and symptoms of complication, then it should be referred to a physician.




Welcome to my Blog

As a concerned MCA member, I am trying my best to help in the process of rebuilding and repositioning of the party.

Therefore, I welcome party members and members of public to post your constructive suggestions and opinions on my blog on how to rebuild and reform the party, eventually enabling MCA to regain support from all party members and the community.

Thank you for your suggestions.