Thursday, September 28, 2006

Privitisation of ambulance service not the solution

28 September 2006

Ambulance service,solve not shelve the problem

I refer to your report “Corporatise ambulance services, says MMA” (Star, September 28).

It was shocking though not surprising to know that there is a critical shortage of ambulance in the country. The health ministry is finding it difficult to cope with the increasing demands of ambulance service.

Accidents, which comprise about 5,000 a day, are only part of the medical emergencies, what about the other non-accident emergencies?

The delay in the arrival of an ambulance at the site of an emergency is not a rare occurrence. It is also not uncommon to have an ambulance that is ill-equipped and inadequately trained-staffed to render proper resuscitation to a seriously injured victim in the all important “golden hour”.

At present in all major towns, the all important ambulance service is provided by the Malaysian Red Crescent Society, St.John’s Ambulance, the Department of Civil Defense and private hospitals. Within their constraints they are doing a good job but there is a dire need for much improvement in these services.

We are told that the Health Ministry is planning to purchase 800 new ambulances and it is also looking into the possibility of privatizing the ambulance service to make it more efficient Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek admits that the ministry faced a “big problem” with the ambulance services and had proposed outsourcing the services. This is the typical way problem are solved or rather shelved these days – privatization.

The onus of providing an efficient and modern ambulance service throughout the country is on the Health Ministry. Other voluntary bodies may be roped in to help but they alone are responsible to provide this vital service to the people. It should not abdicate its responsibility to the rakyat with its excuse of improving efficiency.

Privatisation may not be the solution to this problem as it would be profit driven and nothing else. Like all other privatized projects, it would not only bring hardship to the people but also be subject to abuse for monitory benefits. Imagine having to pay hundreds of ringgit to transport the sick a few kilometers to the nearest hospital. Who would foot the bill especially in case of road accidents and dire emergencies?.

Purchasing modern ambulances is important but it should also be accompanied by well trained and motivated staff to provide the service with passion and dedication. Without the latter it would a waste of taxpayers’ money to buy expensive vehicles fully fitted with state of the art equipment.

Medical care including ambulance service is a basic right of every citizen and they should be easily accessible at an affordable cost.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Pak Lah in control

24 September 2006

Reforms must be seen to be done

I refer to your report “I consult the cabinet on all matters, says Abdullah” (Star,September 18).

After a spat of criticism of the administration of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, many Malaysians were beginning to give in to despair. The timely reassurance by the prime minister that he is in control of his administration and has not forgotten the reforms he pledged should be welcome.

While we agree that reforms must be introduced after careful planning and the results will take time to be seen, nevertheless the people must see the signs that reforms are being undertaken by the governing authorities. Only then will they have confidence in the government.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi started off with the right pledge to improve the nation and he should maintain his focus and be more aggressive in putting into place measures towards driving the nation towards that direction.

A number of reforms may be already underway. Among the most obvious is the tolerance of the present government to dissenting opinion. Even the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz had admitted this recently. The prime minister says that he would not resort to making arbitrary changes without consulting his Cabinet colleagues which is an encouraging piece of news.

In Parliament, backbenchers and the Opposition are allowed more room for debate. Similarly we hear ministers making all sorts of comments and even BN MPs are questioning certain actions of their own government such as the comments made by Datuk Zaid Ibrahim (BN-Kota Baru) recently. These were never heard of before.

Our newspapers now appear to report issues that were never possible before. The recent statement of the former Lord President regarding his sacking and the public debate of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), were notable examples. More people are also expressing their opinion through the press without being fearful of reprisal from the authorities. Whistle blowers are encouraged to come forward to help in investigations.

This openness, although a small step, is the beginning of a long process of steering the nation back in the right direction, and if not hampered will go a long way to check the wrongs in the country. Suppression of public feedback and constructive criticism are sure ways to degrade the development of any organisation.

Datuk Sri Abdullah may have his weaknesses and shortcomings like all of us but he is humble enough to be willing to apologize if he is wrong, which many of us will not. His less combatant and more reconciliatory approach makes more friends then enemies at local and international level. It is also reassuring that in a multiracial and multi-religious society like ours, he does not resort to racial tactics for political advantage.

He may be not able to put an immediate stop to all the ills entrenched in society but at least he doesn’t use those for political mileage.

I agree these measures may not be not enough and there is much more to be done. Changes are coming although at a snail’s pace. In order to effect these changes, there is a need to change the mindset of the administrators at all levels and the public at large.

It may be an uphill tussle but with him at the helm, with patience and political will, God willing, we will ultimately succeed to build united Malaysia, which every citizen will be proud of.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Reading culture

September 20, 2006

Instill reading habit from young

Recently our Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak urged bookstores to set up reading kiosks in small towns and villages to promote a reading lifestyle among Malaysians.This is an encouraging contribution for cultivating a reading culture among Malaysians.

In fact of late the government has begun to set up libraries in the major towns which This is a commendable step. Unfortunately the smaller towns and villages are neglected. I feel all towns must be provided with well equipped libraries and the kampungs with mini-libraries or reading kiosks.

Setting up libraries and reading kiosks are not the most difficult aspects of instilling a reading culture as all we need is money to do that. Our country can well afford to spend that money on such projects.

It is unfortunate that many costly projects have become “white elephants” due to neglect and lack of commitment. We hope the National Book Policy (NBP) will not end up in a similar fate. Therefore before we embark on the building of expensive libraries; it is important to consider two important aspects in the promotion of a reading culture; a receptive mindset of the people and dedicated staff to run these places.

A great deal needs to be done to instill the habit of reading especially in schools. Most of our schools are equipped with quality libraries but the pupils are not actively encouraged to utilize them profitably. Many of them pass through school life without having borrowed or read a single book from their libraries.

Pupils must be compelled to read and their progress monitored as it used to be done earlier. Their minds must be open and receptive to contradicting ideas. Shutting our minds to alien ideas is a sure way to impede the development of the intellect and a mindset needed for development of a reading society.

Many of our public libraries are magnificently built, well furnished and fully equipped with a large collection of books and journals but they lack the dedicated workforce that is committed to the cultivation of a national reading culture among the citizens. These days we have more qualified staff but they lack interest and enthusiasm in their work unlike their predecessors.

It is true that reading seems to have taken a back seat to television, films, the Internet and other forms of entertainment, which are more exciting and easily accessible especially to the young. If we are serious to cultivate a reading culture, buildings and books are necessary but more important to have the people with passion to do that. Otherwise whatever we do will be just a waste of time and money.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, September 15, 2006

A King’s humility

Compete for virtues not vice

Not a day passes without some form of violence and death in the world. Man is killing his fellow men for trivial reasons. They give all sorts of excuses for justifying their crime against humanity. Some say they are doing these for self-defense, others to fight terrorism and some to avenge the death of fellow members in the name of God. It is so depressing and there appears to be no solution in sight. Why is man doing this?

In reflecting on the reasons for this violence, I came across a short story taken from Illumination-Experiences on Indian Soil by Sri Chinmoy which gives some insight into the aggressive behavior of man towards his own human race. I would like to share this thought provoking story which goes like this.

One day a sage came to a King for an interview. The sage had to wait for a long time because the King was very busy. Finally, the King said he could come in.

When the sage entered the hall, the first thing he did was to take off his hat and bow to the King. Immediately the King took off his crown and bowed to the sage. The ministers and others who were around the King asked, "What are you doing? He took off his hat because he is an ordinary man. But you are the King. Why should you have to take off your crown?"

The King said to his ministers, "You fools, do you think I wish to remain inferior to an ordinary man? He is humble and modest. His humility is a peerless virtue'. He showed his respect to me. If I did not take off my crown, then I would be showing less humility than an ordinary man, and I would be defeated by him. If I am the King, I should be better than everybody in everything. That is why I took off my crown and bowed to him!”

Moral of the story

In a world that is so materialistic, accumulation of wealth and power have become the sole ambitions of man. We are prepared to employ whatever means available to achieve that ambition of ours. In this quest for wealth all ethics and moral values become irrelevant.
As a result it is becoming an accepted norm in today’s world to compete for vice rather than virtues. We often compete with one another for the wrong reasons like acquiring of wealth, power, position, glamour and superiority.
All religions teach us humility but it is virtue that we all lack terribly. It would be better for us to compete with one another for humility and love. If only we do these our society will be a better place.

Dr.Chris Anthony

New IGP and crime

September 12, 2006

New IGP gives hope in the fight against crime

I refer to the report “IGP declares war on crime” (Star, September 12).

At a time when the rakyat are living in fear due to the ever increasing crime throughout the country, the pledge by the new Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan that fighting crime will be his mission is really a welcome and reassuring message to all Malaysians.

The new IGP appears to be starting his job with the right note, taking positive steps to first put his house in order. He was very right to say that to reduce crime we need to have more beat patrols and crime prevention rounds by uniformed policemen as well as detectives. His directive to redeploy of 800 redundant personnel in Bukit Aman to do real policing work on the ground is very encouraging and a positive sign that he means business.

We hope state police chiefs and Officers in Charge of Police District (OCPDs) heed his call to deploy more uniformed personnel onto the streets and be visible at all times and also to be more responsible and be aware what was happening on the ground.

It is also encouraging that the new IGP is asking for the active cooperation of the public in the fight against crime. In order to facilitate cooperation from the public, he must make available the means for their feedback and communication with the police authorities. Making police reports must be made easy and hassle free. The police force at all levels must be easily approachable and people friendly as this will go a long way in getting the required public support and cooperation.

The IGP must impress upon his men that protecting the rakyat should be the top priority of our police force. They must develop a more professional attitude and come up with a serious, no nonsense nation-wide action plan to put an immediate stop to the escalating crime rate in the country.

They must send a strong message, to the criminals, in no uncertain terms, that they are resolved to do this by whatever means available to them. There should be no compromise on this very vital role of our police force.

Every citizen, regardless of race, creed or sex, has a definite role in the fight against crime. The IGP and other relevant authorities must seriously consider giving equal opportunities for all dedicated young Malaysians to be recruited into the police force to join in this fight to free our nation from these criminals.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Teachers and tuitions

13 September 2006

Tuition Industry, a national menace

I refer to your letter “Basics at school, the rest at tuition” (NST Sep.11).

It was a shocking admission by teachers themselves that they do not give their best in school but rather reserve that for tuition classes after school hours. It is distressing to realize the way these teachers are openly soliciting students for their tuition classes, and the number of such teachers is on the rise.

The tuition industry is the latest menace facing our country. Millions of ringgit are being spent by Malaysians on tuition every year. Who are we to blame for this situation, the teachers, students, parents or the government?. Yes, all these groups have contributed to some extent to the present situation by encouraging the “A” syndrome that has become our national aspiration and culture.

The one sure loser in this tuition industry aimed at achieving straight A’s are definitely the students. The most important precious formative years in their lives as youths is wasted in tuition centers. Sports, moral education and other extra-curricular activities are neglected which has contributed to the declining standard of sports and increase in crime and other social problems.

Our current problems are largely due to the very materialistic and consumerist attitude of our society. Cost of education, health care and housing have become beyond the means of an average wage earner especially in urban areas. Imagine the difficulty in supporting a family of five with an income of RM2,000 a month. The majority earn much less that amount. In order to make ends meet one has to take additional jobs. Under such a situation can you blame a teacher, even the most dedicated one, for resorting to tuition for some extra income?

At the other extreme there are those in their quest for wealth and more wealth, have forgotten or neglected their responsibilities to their students and the nation as a whole. They have lost sight of the ethics of their profession and the plight of weaker students from the lower income group who are the ones who really need such help and guidance.

To overcome this problem of tuition abuse by teachers will not be easy. Due to the high cost of living especially in the urban areas, teachers may be allowed to moonlight but this must be regulated and their enureration subjected to income tax. Their performance in school must be closely monitored to ensure that they do not neglect their normal duty. Parent teacher associations may be roped in to help in this surveillance.

Instilling dedication in teachers must be accompanied by genuine attempts to provide basic amenities at an affordable cost. Quality education, health and housing must be made affordable to teachers in particular and the people in general. Efforts to discourage the flawed “A” syndrome and emphasis on a wholesome education must be made a top priority.

If we are unable to check these abuses in our education system, it would be a mere waste of everybody’s time sending our children to schools from 7am till as long as 4.30pm everyday. It may be better to do away with the school system and send our children just for tuitions. At least then they will have more time for other recreational and family activities.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Multiracial parties for national unity

3 August 2006

Leaders must be for all races

I refer to your report “Koh: I'm Chief Minister for all races” (NST Aug.29)

Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon should be praised for emphasizing that he is Chief Minister for all races. His strong stand as a Malaysian leader for all in the face of strong criticisms from local Umno should be an example for leaders at all levels.

If only all our Ministers and Menteris Besar also pledge that they are truly leaders of all races, it will go a long way to overcome our ethnic problems, which is gaining momentum and becoming a real threat to national unity.

Not only our political leaders are seen to be championing their own race, even non-political institutions are following suit. It is becoming more acceptable for teachers to cater for the needs of their pupils of their own race. Even on the roads when there is an accident, passer-bys rush to help only if the victims are of their own race.

After almost 50 years of independence, Malaysians are still divided by race and religion. We are nowhere near the perceived ideals of racial unity that our forefathers envisaged at the time of independence.

The only true way to foster racial unity is political will. As long as our political parties are set up along ethnic lines it will be an almost impossible task to achieve national unity. The unity that appears will only be superficial and will not stand the test of stress and strain that is common in a multiracial and multi-religious society like ours.

It is time to rethink our strategies of instilling racial and religious tolerance and goodwill in our people especially the young. We have to seriously consider the establishment of multiracial political parties, where every member, regardless of race, has an equal and fair representation.

Prime Minister,Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has on numerous occasions reiterated that the nation belongs to all and we hope that he will succeed in uniting all the citizens of our beloved country, where everyone irrespective of ethnicity will feel proud to be Malaysians.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tap the potentials of all races

All races vital in national development

I refer to your report “Mustapa: Recruit non-bumis” (Star Aug 30).

Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed’s call to the public universities to recruit more non-bumiputra lecturers, attract the best brains, and develop a vibrant academic environment is an encouraging sign that the government is finally realizing the contribution of the non-bumiputras to the national development.

It is shocking but not surprising that in Universiti Malaya there is only one non-bumiputra dean among 20. In many of the other universities, there is none. In fact a similar unhealthy situation also exists on all levels of the civil service, police and armed forces.

The over-enthusiastic implementation of policies aimed to restructure society within a short period should be blamed as the single most important cause of the systematic eliminated of non-bumiputras from the civil service, armed forces and public universities.

Many of them who were loyal and dedicated have been denied their rightful rewards and their contributions ignored. Others with great potentials have been put in “cold storage”. The outcome of all this is that the vast majorities of non-bumiputra Malaysians has become disillusioned and are giving up hope of any future prospects in their own motherland.

Many of these intellectuals have reluctantly left for the private sector where their capabilities are not utilized to the maximum. In fact many have to contend with carrying routine substandard work just to earn to live and support the high cost of education for their children in private institutions and even foreign countries.

A significant number of them have even migrated to other countries where their talents are better appreciated. We have a very unique situation where one is able to get better recognition in a foreign country whereas he has become a stranger in own motherland.

I am sure that many belonging to my generation would recall the good old days when we started in civil service with full dedication and enthusiasm to serve our nation till the end but sadly, along the way, we were pushed aside just for belonging to a particular ethnic group. In a way we are becoming strangers in our own land.

Mustapha’s admission that more needs to be done, to attract more non-bumiputras into the civil service, is an encouraging start. I admit it will take time, in fact a very long time, but at least some signs of hope must be seen.

Every citizen, regardless of ethnicity, must be given a chance to contribute towards the advancement of the nation so as to become competitive in a globalize world, where talents and skills are all that matters. Otherwise we may be left behind.

Hopefully this is the beginning of a long process in the recognition of all Malaysians as equal citizens regardless race or creed.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Historic Parliament after historic GE14

  New Parliament symbol of hope and democracy Congratulations to all our newly elected MPs. The first session of the 14th ...