The privatisation of Institut Jantung Negara (IJN) has become big news. There is a lot of hue and cry over the privatisation of the Institute, which offers reasonable fees for saving lives due to government subsidies.
The government late last week announced that it had agreed in principle to sell 51 percent of its stake in IJN to conglomerate Sime Darby group. Views of many published in newspapers and the internet shows the public feedback on the matter.
As far as I am concerned, although I am part of the government, the feeling is that the plan should be scrapped altogether.
IJN has proven and continues to prove that it is a premier heart institute in the country. It had produced several firsts in heart transplant and doing fine on its own. It is also reported to have some hundreds of millions in its coffers and this is to be used for future expansion.
I do not really know why the government choose to privatise an organisation which was already making profit, providing aid to the poor and needy and had become a benchmark for other heart institutes in the region.
My stand is that no healthcare services provided by the government should be privatised. This is our (the government's) responsibility and we should live-up to it. We should not in any circumstances leave healthcare to the private sector, as when this happens, our low and medium income group suffers. Let us work for the betterment of the people and not to burden the rakyat.
Although Sime Darby has suggested that it would not burden the needy, there is no guarantee how long they could hold-up to this promise. Companies can suggest various reasons to hike fees and this would be at the expense of the people.
I feel organisations like the IJN should be left alone, just like any government run hospital in the country. Instead of selling stakes, the government should pump in more funds to upgrade these government-run-hospitals to ensure the people enjoy better healthcare services.
Waiting time and scary stories of government hospitals should become something of the past. We should strive for something that could be enjoyed to the fullest by the rakyat.
The saying Health is Wealth is apt for this scenario.
*KL Feb 20:* I bumped into a senior editor from Utusan Malaysia this afternoon and asked him what he thought about his former editor-in-chief's tweet on...
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