Friday, September 28, 2007

Long walk for justice

Adopting a conciliatory approach

It was heartening to see our lawyers creating history in taking the “walk of justice”.Many of them would have left their jobs and comforts of their homes and offices to give support to the Bar Council for a course they felt so dearly. Even drenching rain and the intimidating heavy police presence could not scare them away as they marched over 3km to hand a memorandum to the Prime Minister’s office.Ambiga Srinivasan and all members of the Bar Council should be congratulated for their act of patriotism - the "Walk of Justice".




It is very sad that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi himself was not there to receive the memorandum in person. However the Prime Minister's political secretary Datuk Wan Farid Wan Salleh,who received on behalf of the PM gave an assurance that Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would look into the memorandum and that he would even arrange a meeting between the Prime Minister and the Bar's office bearers. Yes, that was what is really needed – a meeting to discuss an important issue affecting the nation.




We must bear in mind that those who wanted to hand over the memoranda were not criminals and thugs but lawyers who belong to the noble legal profession. What they were asking is not permits to operate illegal and immoral activities but stern action from the government to safeguard the integrity of the judiciary, the custodian of justice for the rakyat.Is that asking too much?

It would have been a great demonstration of his wisdom and statesmanship if only the Prime Minister had agreed to meet the lawyers in a cordial manner like inviting them for a buka puasa session. By doing so he would have won the hearts of not just the lawyers but the rakyat at large and even his advesaries.Instead he chose to evade these citizens who came asking him to protect the rights of the very people he is supposed to serve.

It is time for the Prime Minister to adopt a more conciliatory approach towards citizen groups, even the opposition, that work for the general well being of the people. No single group should claim to have the monopoly to work for the welfare of the rakyat.It is the right and privilege of every citizen to contribute in whatever way he can towards that aim.

Combative and confrontational attitudes of his predecessor are definitely not the way. Abdullah has clearly departed from this confrontational attitude of his predecessor in dealing with foreign leaders. He should similarly do so and adopt a more conciliatory approach to his own fellow citizens with dissenting views. There is no better way to win the hearts and minds of the people than being with them in their crises.

The lawyers may not achieve their demands; setting up of a Royal Commission of inquiry to probe the Lingam Tape and a Judicial Appointments and Promotion Commission but they have shown the people that they are capable and willing to rise up to the occasion to defend their rights.


Dr.Chris Anthony

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Educating by example

Our children are what we make them out to be

An incident with my 17 year old son made me realize how little things that we often take for granted have a profound effect on the young minds of our children. It also reminded me that life is a continuous process of learning in which everyone we come across, regardless of whether he is small or big, young or old, man or woman, rich or poor, friend or foe, play an important role. We have much to learn from every one of them.

My son, a college student, frequents a small restaurant for his meals. One day the owner of the restaurant asked him whether he knew how to download and burn some songs onto a compact disc (CD).When my son admitted he knew, the gentleman requested him to burn some of his favourite songs for him. He said he would pay for it.

So my son went back and did the job. He then called me to find out how much he should charge the man for the CD.I advised that he give it for free as it the first time he had asked for such a help.The next day my son handed over the CD to the restaurant owner. He refused to accept any payment despite some persuasion by the man. The man thanked him and my son left.

A few days later my son went back to the restaurant to have his meals. He ordered the usual food. While he was having his meal a waiter sent him a large glass of fruit juice as
a compliment from his boss. My son was so surprised and he happily thanked him. After the meal when he went to pay his bill the boss refused to accept payment saying that his lunch treat was in appreciation for the CD earlier.

My son was so happy that he immediately called me to relate the incident. I could sense the joy in his voice when said “I had free lunch; the restaurant owner didn’t take my money because I burnt the CD for free”.

I could not believe that a small deed like that could bring him so much happiness. Without my knowledge I had taught my son a very important lesson in life, “kindness brings happiness”. If he had collected a few ringgit for the CD from the restaurant owner, he would not have got the treat from him, and my son would not have experienced the joy of his kind act. Forgoing a ringgit could bring him the happiness which often we are not able to obtain by thousands of ringgit.

This incident may be a small one, it may not guarantee my son will grow up to be a good person, but it made me aware that as parents we have a very important role in shaping the character of our children. This can most effectively be done by our own examples not preaching. It is in little things that we can guide them to be kind, considerate and helpful to those whom they come into contact. It is in little things that we can instill the good values and morality that are so deficient in our society today.

In a world that is solely driven by materialism and consumerism,and where stiff and unhealthy competition in the norm, instilling good values in our children would go a long way to make the world a better place for all. In a multi-racial country like ours, it would particularly contribute to ethnic tolerance and integration that is so badly needed.

Dr.Chris Anthony


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Royal Commission more appropriate

The government should go one step further

The setting up of an independent panel to probe the Lingam tape is a positive step indicating the government recognizes that there is a problem. It is encouraging to realize that it is giving in to the people’s demands although it may fall far short of what is required or expected – a Royal Commission.

There are 2 aspects to the tape scandal; the authenticity of the tape and the truth of the allegations contained in it. The panel set up should probe both these aspects and not just confine itself in establishing the authenticity of the tape only. Irrespective of whether the video is genuine or otherwise, it has highlighted the need for a comprehensive review of the procedures for the promotion of judges in the country.

The tape scandal is just one of the many indicators of the long process of rot taking place in our judiciary since the crisis in 1988 when the then Lord President Tun Salleh Abbas was sacked. It was the beginning of the loss of independence of our judiciary and its increasing subservience to the executive.

The video recording implicating a prominent lawyer purportedly brokering the appointment of judges, if proven true, is a very serious offence that deals a deadly blow to the integrity of our judiciary and the system that delivers justice to the rakyat.

The government must take this matter very seriously and leave no stone unturned to investigate these allegations with dire urgency. It should not mislead the public into tracing the origin of the tape and punishing the person responsible for its release. The motive for release of the video is irrelevant but the truth or otherwise of the allegations in it are.

We are often told by judges themselves that justice must not only be done but it must also be seen to be done. Similarly the judiciary must be seen to be clean and independent in the eyes of the rakyat.Otherwise the very purpose of existence of the institution would be questionable.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Crime against children : more serious efforts needed

Punishing parents won't do

The recent kidnapping,torture,sexual abuse and murder of 8-year old Nurin Jazlin Jazimin is a great blow to our reputaion as as peace loving and morally upright people.It is appalling to note that certain quarters are calling for action against parents whose children meet with similar fate. We may have legislation like the Child Protection Act 2001,but it should be meant for those parents and guardians who are directly or indirectly causing physical or psychological hurt to their children.

It would be unfair to point the finger at the parents and jail them for negligence in causing the gruesome of murder of their children. What greater punishment can there be for parents than losing their own children in such tragic crime?

The recent series of gruesome murders of children and the increasing crime rate in general should be a serious cause of alarm and worry and that should be tackled with great determination and zeal by all concerned. I am afraid that the authorities are not taking these seriously as they should.

They should put themselves in the position of the parents of the children who were brutally raped and killed to understand their pain and anguish. Today it is somebody’s child, what guarantee is there that the next victim may be our own?

In any crime against children there are a number of parties involved namely the victim,the assailent, the parents and the crime prevention agencies.

The victim in this case is an innocent child who should be absolved from all blame. It is the duty of the parents and the governing authorities to provide a safe environment for their children.The parents do share the responsibity of ensuring their children’s safety but they can do little to maintain the security of the outside world.

If allowing our children to play around the neighborhood or allowing them to walk to school a few hundred meters away is negligence, liable to be punished by a hefty fine and imprisonment, then we will have to lock up our children in our homes all the time. That may be the only way to keep them away from the predators that prowl the neighborhood.Is that what we want?What type of indivials will they grow up to be?

The police and other enforcement agencies are the only ones who can ensure a safe environment by keeping the criminals away. They have all the means in the form of manpower,equipment and weapons to enforce the laws which they must do so strictly without fear or favour.They must device ways and means to make our neighborhoods reasonably safe for us and for our kids.The onus is on them to provide a safe environment all over the country.

It is also equally important to find the reasons behind the increasing number of youths who resort to heinous crimes. This is a very serious social problem that must be attended to with urgency. There is no doubt that failure in education and unemployment are major underlying factors. What are we doing to address these problems?

It is time to review our strategies in fighting crime which seem to be ineffective and inadequate. With the present crime rate which has reached an alarming level, it is becoming increasingly unsafe not only to wander our streets and neighborhood but staying indoors an well.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Judiciary must uphold trust of rakyat

Judiciary only hope of the rakyat

The video recording released by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) implicating a prominent lawyer purportedly brokering the appointment of judges, if proven true, is a very serious offence that deals a deadly blow to our judiciary and the system that delivers justice to the rakyat.The government must take this matter seriously and leave no stone unturned to investigate this allegation with urgency.

The authenticity of the 8-minute video recording must be verified for its genuinity without delay. If true than it is clear that our judiciary is not free and independent as it should be. Its impartiality has been compromised and it has truly become subservient to powerful individuals both in and out of the government

Action must be taken against those involved in this judicial scandal. It also calls for a comprehensive review of the procedures for the promotion of judges in the country. If it is not true than action should also be taken against those responsible for releasing such an evil-intentioned video..

We are often told by judges themselves that justice must not only be done but it must also be seen to be done. The judiciary must be seen to be clean and independent in the eyes of the rakyat. In this context, it is of utmost importance for the judges to act and behave in a manner appropriate to the highly noble responsibility entrusted upon them, which is to safeguard the rule of law at all costs. Judges who do not fulfill these criteria must quit or removed to safeguard the reputation and integrity of their position.

The rights and welfare of the rakyat must be the only consideration when they deliberate and deliver their judgments. Temptations in whatever from should not be allowed to cloud their decisions in any way. In this respect it is important to choose the right person for the job, one with high integrity and passion to do justice to mankind.

The ordinary man on the street has nowhere to turn to justice except the judiciary and if the institution, that is established to grant him justiceis flawed and tarnished, it would be a great tragedy not only to the person who seeks fair play but also the institution itself.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Gruesome murder a barbaric act

Lawlessness and chaos on the rise

Just recently the nation was horrified by the gruesome murder of four-year old Shearwey Ooi Ying Ying.Not only she was murdered; her body was fragmented and strewn in a number of places. Before we could recover from that horror, we are witnessing the gruesome murder of another child and her body stuffed into a sports bag.

These barbaric acts are a shame to all Malaysians. We must condemn in the strongest possible way this highly cruel murder of innocent and helpless children. We hope the police and system of justice find the murderers and mete out the severest form of punishment on these heartless criminals.

I dread to imagine the cries of agony and anguish of these children during the final moments of their death. The thought of that scenario may bring tears in the eyes of even the most tyrant parents.

Of late such gruesome crimes appear to be on the rise which does not auger well for the future of our nation. We claim to be a nation of caring, peace loving and morally upright people but in actual fact are we? These horrible murders indicate othersiwse.In fact they reflect the total lack of morals and respect for human lives in our society today.

Something has seriously gone wrong with our of education system which has failed to inculcate good values in the young, thereby resulting in a society that is mentally and morally sick. It is time to review the flaws in our education system and take steps to instill good universal values in our children from an early age. Violence of any kind for whatever reason should never be condoned and justified by anyone.

Of late we are seeing a rise in religious fervour among Malaysians of all faiths, but sadly this does not seem to be really helping to reduce the crime rate in the country. On the contrary, a lawless and chaotic society is emerging that is threatening the peace and harmony, a national pride, which we have been enjoying all these while.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Monday, September 17, 2007

Spend public money wisely

Prudence needed in use of public funds

Malaysians in general read with aghast the Auditor General’s Annual Report 2006.It was unbelievable that the various government departments have paid exorbitant prices for common items. Imagine paying RM224 for a RM32 set of screwdrivers, RM1,146 for a set of pens costing RM160, RM5,700 for a car jack worth RM50, the list is long and shocking. Besides over-spending other flaws included corruption, poor management of funds, incomplete and outdated data and lack of enforcement and manpower.

What is distressing is that such mismanagement of tax payers' money does not seem to be isolated incidences but part of a generalized malaise that had inflicted almost the whole civil service. Nearly all the departments in all the states appear to be involved in some form of misuse of public money.There has been total disregard for financial prudence in the management of taxpayers' money.

These irresponsible actions are due to the lackadaisical attitude of many government officers. If they were to be spending their own money will they do such a thing? The money comes from taxes paid by the people. Money is not easy to come by these days and the people are overburdened with the escalating cost of goods, utilities, housing, education, healthcare and transportation.

Despite all these financial burdens, as law abiding citizens, people still continue to pay their taxes which come from their sweat and blood. If there is dishonesty and wastage of public funds, it would be greatest betrayal and injustice to the people by the very people who are employed to serve them.

This is not the first time that an audit report has revealed the inconsistencies and abuse in government departments. Year in and year out similar reports have brought out such discrepancies in financial management. Unfortunately no remedial actions were taken. Malaysians seem to have very short memories for such unpleasant incidences and the culprits are soon forgotten.

The Auditor-General,Tan Sri Ambrin Buang,has proposed a star-rating system for ministries. It is a good in the right direction. If implemented properly it will go a long way to ensure that everyone in the civil service, from secretaries-general to clerks work effectively.

However the Government must first find out why such mismanagement of public money occurs year in and year out. Why remedial measures are not taken despite the AG’s recommendations every year? There are set procedures and protocol for financial dealings, purchases and transactions, why are these being blatantly ignored? The government should go to the root of the problem so that it can be overcome once and for all.

Those responsible for the mismanagement of public funds must be identified and made to face appropriate disciplinary action without fear or favour.Only by firm action against these irresponsible officers can repetition of similar misuses can be prevented.

At the same time civil servants should be educated to carry out proper management of their assets and responsibilities. They should be made to realize that they are managing hard earned taxpayers’ money.Every ringgit saved by their prudence will benefit the rakyat. If there is dishonesty and wastage of such public funds, it would be greatest betrayal and injustice to the very people whom they are employed to serve.

The Prime Minister has promised to look into the problem and we hope that action would be taken against those responsible so that these would not be repeated next year. We hope with his National Integrity Plan,Pak Lah will be able to strengthen the financial prudence, honesty and integrity of the officers at all levels of our government departments.

The Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang and his team should be commended for the excellent job they have done to expose the weaknesses in the financial management of the various departments.We hope all department heads do their duty to check these abuses. The ball is now in the court of our political leaders. Do they have the will to stop this misuse of public funds?

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Prudence needed in use of public funds

Malaysians in general read with aghast the Auditor General’s Annual Report 2006.It was unbelievable that the various government departments have paid exorbitant prices for common items. Imagine paying RM224 for a RM32 set of screwdrivers, RM1,146 for a set of pens costing RM160, RM5,700 for a car jack worth RM50, the list is long and shocking. Besides over-spending other flaws included corruption, poor management of funds, incomplete and outdated data and lack of enforcement and manpower

What is distressing is that such mismanagement of funds does not seem to be isolated incidences but part of a generalized malaise that had inflicted almost the whole civil service. Nearly all the departments in all the states appear to be involved in some form of misuse of public money. There are set procedures and protocol for financial dealings, purchases and transactions, why are these being blatantly ignored?

These irresponsible actions are due to the lackadaisical attitude of many government officers. If they were to be spending their own money will they do such a thing? The money comes from taxes paid by the people. Money is not easy to come by these days and the people are overburdened with the escalating cost of goods, utilities, housing, education, healthcare and transportation.

Despite all these financial burdens, as law abiding citizens, people still continue to pay their taxes which come from their sweat and blood. If there is dishonesty and wastage of public funds, it would be greatest betrayal and injustice to the people by the very people who are employed to serve them.

This is not the first time that an audit report has revealed the inconsistencies and abuse in government departments. Year in and year out similar reports have brought out such discrepancies in financial management. Unfortunately no remedial actions were taken. Malaysians seem to have very short memories for such unpleasant incidences and the culprits are soon forgotten.

The Prime Minister has promised to look into the problem and we hope that action would be taken against those responsible so that these would not be repeated next year. We hope he will be able to strengthen the financial prudence, honesty and integrity of the officers at all levels of our government departments.

The Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang and his team should be commended for the excellent job they have done to expose the weaknesses in the financial management of the various departments. We hope other department heads too can follow his example to stamp out this malaise that is threatening to take deep roots in our civil service. The ball is now in the court of our political leaders. Do they have the will to stop this misuse of public funds?

Dr.Chris Anthony


RTD responsible to the people

eKesihatan : Unhealthy health screening
------------------------------------------------

At first it was encouraging to learn that drivers of commercial vehicles will soon be subjected to a comprehensive medical check-up and certified fit before their driving licenses are renewed. These will include testing for drugs, alcoholism, cardiovascular and mental illnesses. The opinion changed on realizing the unhealthy developments that were taking place behind the medical screening scheme that is being implemented in a haste,“Unhealthy practice” (Sun,September 11).

The scheme, called eKesihatan, aims to ensure that only medically-fit drivers are behind the wheel of commercial vehicles. If implemented properly the scheme would definitely go a long way to improve the safety of public transport all over the country. The onus is on the Road Transport Department (RTD) to ensure the medical screening scheme is implemented effectively.

It is however unfortunate that that the project to improve the safety of our public transportation has been turned into a money-spinning one. The introduction of the middle agency,Supremme Systems Sdn.Bhd.is unnecessary and an waste of money.

Why can’t the RTD make arrangements with the government hospitals to screen drivers for illnesses? In fact the government hospitals are better equipped in every way to provide the service. If at all it needs the service of private clinics, why can’t they deal directly with the Malaysian Medical Association to make the arrangements?

Why should a third party be engaged and paid 41 % of the cost of each examination? It is ridiculous that the middle-man is paid more than the doctor who is solely responsible for carrying out the medical check up. More distressing is that the cost of such examinations have gone up from RM50 to RM 85,an additional burden on the drivers.

The RTD, a civil service department, is entrusted to safeguard the interest of the people by ensuring they enjoy a reasonably accepted level of safety of their public transportation. Why should that job be transferred to a third party, a private company in the form of Supremme System Sdn.Bhd.which will in no way be accountable to the rakyat?Is the RTD trying to abdicate its responsibility to the people who are paying them?

We are told that hundreds of panel clinics nationwide had been appointed under this programme to carry out the screening. There have been reservations expressed on the integrity of the clinics that are selected to do this important task. The RTD should bear this in mind and take great pains to select only those clinics with a good tract record to be granted these contracts. Merit alone should be only criteria in considering the appointment of the panel clinics.Favouritism in any form will be a sure cause of its failure.

Clinics must be responsible and ensure a high degree of competence and professionalism in conducting the medical examination. Medical laboratories undertaking to collect urine and blood samples should follow strict protocol to ensure accuracy and reliability of the tests conducted. Probably they should be done under the supervision of RTD officers to minimize the risk of cheating.

It is reported that about 500,000 licenses will be involved in this scheme. With each paying RM85, it would amount to RM42.5 million per year. This is a very large sum of money which calls for very stringent control or risk being mismanaged. Strict adherence to rules and regulations must be enforced at every stage and at all times. Anyone flouting the rules must be made to face the music regardless of his status or political alignment.

The RTD should be embarrassed for the Bukit Gantang tragedy and the high number of similar accidents. It should be embarrassed for allowing buses that are not roadworthy and unfit drivers to ply our highways. Instead of learning a lesson from the recent tragedy and resolving to serve the rakyat better, the RTD has used it to embark on another business venture with a corporate body with questionable credentials to carry out medical check-ups on drivers of commercial vehicles.

It is time the government departments take seriously the rights and welfare of the people at large. It is their duty to protect and safeguard our rights at all times. It would be morally wrong for them to run away from their responsibility to the rakyat by passing their job to private companies whose primary motive is profits.

The Sun was criticized for being an opposition paper but in fact it should be praised as a people’s paper for bringing issues like “Unhealthy practice” which affect the ordinary man on the street.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, September 07, 2007

Declining passion for the job

Commercialization of Medicine to blame

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek’s warning to doctors to resign if they do not want to attend to patients when called to do so is timely. The ministry should take a serious view of this issue of doctors refusing to attend to patients, even those critically ill.

I agree with Dr Chua that doctors are burdened with more work due to the increasing number of patients at government hospitals but this is no excuse for failing to be present when needed. We must understand that while the number of patients may have increased drastically but the number of doctors and specialists have also increased proportionately over the years. Patients’ expectations are also much greater these days.

We have now reached a stage where medical officers and specialists should be made stay-in when on call, especially in urban areas, where traffic congestion makes it impossible and dangerous for them to rush back in time for emergencies. Comfortably equipped rooms and proper food should be provided for those on call.

In the seventies and eighties we had very much fewer doctors and specialists. Major clinical departments then were run by 1 or 2 specialists and a couple of medical officers and housemen. The specialists were on call daily, seven days a week. There was no such thing as public holidays or weekends for them. Moreover no overtime or call allowance of any sort was paid at all.

Despite these shortcomings and frustrations, work went on reasonably well. The driving force behind was the commitment of doctors to their patients. All patients admitted were seen by the respective specialists daily without fail, sometimes more frequently as the needs dictate. Work went on irrespective of whether it was a weekend or public holiday.

Today the scenario is very much different. These clinical units are now staffed with 5 to 10 times more specialists and medical officers. There are also the super-specialists in the various subspecialties. I am made to understand a specialist these days just goes on call 3 or 4 times a month. Furthermore they are given time off on the day after the call (post-call).They are also paid handsome overtime allowance (call allowance).

Despite having more doctors in the public hospitals we still frequently get complains that specialists do not see their patients, even the critically ill ones, for days at a stretch. The patients, especially after office hours and on weekends and public holidays, are left to be managed by junior doctors with minimal clinical experience.

Why are our doctors and specialists adopting such uncaring attitude towards the welfare of their patients? Why are they indifferent to the plight of the sick and dying? The Health Ministry should seriously look into the reasons behind this lack of passion among our doctors and specialists.

The underlying cause of this malaise is the commercialization of the medical profession in general. Medical training and treatment have become lucrative industries that are quickly tapped by big business corporations. Like in all industries, there is no place for medical ethics and compassion for the patients. It is strictly “you pay, I treat” relationship.

This has indirectly been reflected onto potential doctors early in their training days. It has become necessary for doctors to quickly obtain the necessary paper qualifications and leave the public sector to join one of these corporate institutions or risk being left out. Compassion and dedication to for the patients are lowest priority in this pursuit.

In this medical industry, patients may continue to receive treatment but for the wrong reasons. The final loser in this “you pay, I treat” medical business will be the poor penniless rakyat. Privitisation and commercialization of our heathcare may be unavoidable to a certain extent but the government must decide how far it is going to allow these to undermine the nobility of the medical profession.


Dr.Chris Anthony

Comments

The Malaysian Medical Service probably scored a first when doctors from the Klang General Hospital phoned or handphoned a specialist to ask how or what to do in that emergency when the arm of an infant eventually needed to be amputated.Another MALAYSIA BOLEH case that was not publicised to attract mothers to be to give birth in this country?Malaysia is breaking new grounds!

By sentosa007, 11-Sep-2007


Agree with your initial statements. Doctors owe a care of duty to their patients. There can be no justification for death through neglect of patients. This is an issue that the profession must deal with through the local medical registraton authority and leaders of the profession.However, one must not paint all doctors with the same brush just because of the inecusable behaviour of some in the same profession.

I have personnaly known doctors who are dedicated to their patient care and who choose to continue working in the government sector despite the temptation of huge financial rewards in the private sector. We must remember that doctors are also human and subjected to the same needs and weaknesses as anyone else. Doctors pay the same price for everything in life, may that be food, housing, clothes, education for their children or even healthcare for their own family. This is just to put things in perspective.

The fact of the matter is that the commercialisation of healthcare is one of the major challenges in this century for all govenments in the world. In the developed nations, the problem is now even more acute with 40 million americans without health cover while the rest of the population have over the top health care through health care insurance. I have met doctors working in the public run hospitals that cover those 40 million without health cover and have been told that they are worst than hospitals in Africa despite being only a stone throw away from the private hospitals on the same road.There are no easy answers to problem. The govenment have taken the right step by demanding accountability from the medical profession.

They should not expect any less from themselves.Efforts are needed to make the govenment hospitals centres of excellence, so that the people that work in them, may they be doctors, nurses or porters, can feel proud of the good work that they do and commit 110% of themselves depite being paid comparably less than in the private sector.This would be much more effective than having any govenment legislation or any other form of enforcement.

Put our hands on our hearts and we know that the public contributes to this problem by having a negative outlook on our general hospitals and the staff working there. It then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy with no end in sight.This solution is already in practise in the UK. ALthough the private health care sector is thriving, no one would willingly go to a private hospital if they have a life threathening illness, as they know that the most experienced and skilled physicians are in the National Health Service. That is also why the majority of UK doctors remains in the public sector, where they can devote themselves to good patient care, research and the education of future generations of young doctors.

This is the way forward...

Here's an interesting article on the same issue in America..only that it happened many years ago..Scholars, Investigators, and Entrepreneurs: The Metamorphosis of American Medicine. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine - Volume 46, Number 2, Spring 2003, pp. 234-253


The introduction of the article is as follows: "WHEN I ENTERED MEDICAL SCHOOL in 1948, specialization and group practice were developing rapidly, but most physicians were still solo practitioners, often maintaining their office in their home. As proprietors of this cottage industry, physicians were usually financially comfortable, but not rich. They were respected, often revered members of their community, making useful contributions to the health and lives of their patients.

For most patients, the relationship with their doctor was mutually trusting and gratifying. Five decades later, the medical profession has undergone changes much more drastic than the social transformation that raised physicians' incomes from relative poverty in the 19th century to modest affluence in the first half of the 20th (Starr 1982).

The changes of the past 50 years can be quickly summarized with the following three vignettes of conversation that might occur when someone met a doctor on a social occasion.

In 1957, the statement might be, "So you're a doctor. Hey doc, what do you think about this rash on my arm?" In 1977, the speaker might say, "So you're a doctor. Where's your Porsche?" In 1997, the comment might be, "So you're a doctor. Let me tell you what some damned doctor and health care plan did to my sister." [End Page 234]

Why has this change occurred? How did medicine evolve from a caring profession to a business? And how and why did doctors trade their professionalism for commerce? I shall try to answer those questions as an internist whose career allowed direct observation of the cited events. First

Half of the..."Here's the weblink to the article.(http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/perspectives_in_biology_and_medicine/v046/46.2feinstein.html)The late author, Alvan R. Feinstein, was the Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Yale University. (http://www.yale.edu/opa/v30.n9/story12.html
)



Thursday, September 06, 2007

Commercialization of Medicine to blame


Commercialization of Medicine to blame

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek’s warning to doctors to resign if they do not want to attend to patients when called to do so is timely. The ministry should take a serious view of this issue of doctors refusing to attend to patients, even those critically ill.

I agree with Dr Chua that doctors are burdened with more work due to the increasing number of patients at government hospitals but this is no excuse for failing to be present when needed. We must understand that while the number of patients may have increased drastically but the number of doctors and specialists have also increased proportionately over the years. Patients’ expectations are also much greater these days.

We have now reached a stage where medical officers and specialists should be made stay-in when on call, especially in urban areas, where traffic congestion makes it impossible and dangerous for them to rush back in time for emergencies. Comfortably equipped rooms and proper food should be provided for those on call.

In the seventies and eighties we had very much fewer doctors and specialists. Major clinical departments then were run by 1 or 2 specialists and a couple of medical officers and housemen. The specialists were on call daily, seven days a week. There was no such thing as public holidays or weekends for them. Moreover no overtime or call allowance of any sort was paid at all.

Despite these shortcomings and frustrations, work went on reasonably well. The driving force behind was the commitment of doctors to their patients. All patients admitted were seen by the respective specialists daily without fail, sometimes more frequently as the needs dictate. Work went on irrespective of whether it was a weekend or public holiday.

Today the scenario is very much different. These clinical units are now staffed with 5 to 10 times more specialists and medical officers. There are also the super-specialists in the various subspecialties. I am made to understand a specialist these days just goes on call 3 or 4 times a month. Furthermore they are given time off on the day after the call (post-call).They are also paid handsome overtime allowance (call allowance).

Despite having more doctors in the public hospitals we still frequently get complains that specialists do not see their patients, even the critically ill ones, for days at a stretch. The patients, especially after office hours and on weekends and public holidays, are left to be managed by junior doctors with minimal clinical experience.

Why are our doctors and specialists adopting such uncaring attitude towards the welfare of their patients? Why are they indifferent to the plight of the sick and dying? The Health Ministry should seriously look into the reasons behind this lack of dedication among our doctors and specialists.

The underlying cause of this malaise is the commercialization of the medical profession in general. Medical training and treatment have become lucrative industries that are quickly tapped by big business corporations. Like in all industries, there is no place for medical ethics and compassion for the patients. It is strictly “you pay, I treat” relationship.

This has indirectly been reflected onto potential doctors early in their training days. It has become necessary for doctors to quickly obtain the necessary paper qualifications and leave the public sector to join one of these corporate institutions.There is no place for dedication to their profession as that will not take them far in today’s materialistic and consumerist society.

If this commercialization of the medical profession is allowed to continue, the care of patients will continue to deteriorate. Patients may continue to receive treatment but for the wrong reasons. The final loser in this “you pay, I treat” medical business will be the poor penniless rakyat. The government, instead of promoting this commercialization of medicine, should take steps to bring back the nobility of this age old profession.


Dr.Chris Anthony

NS death toll reaches 20

NS death unacceptable

It is with deep regret that we read of the death of the tragic death of Mohd Rafi Ameer, a National Service (NS) trainee at the Cheneh Cemerlang camp.This brings the total number of deaths to 20. The untimely death of the 18-year old lad is really terrible loss to the family and the nation.

Mohd.Rafi was first treated at the Cheneh Cemerlang camp’s clinic on Monday,27 August 2007 for fever, cough and flu. He came back the next day with more symptoms and again given treatment at the same clinic. Five days after his initial treatment, his condition worsened and he was sent to the Kemaman Hospital. The following day (Saturday,1 September 2007) he was rushed to the Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital in Kuantan,more than a hundred kilometers away, but unfortunately he died on the way to the hospital.

Looking at the circumstances of the death reveals 2 major contributing factors :

1. Exposure to some deadly pathogen
2. Inadequate medical expertise and facilities to diagnose and treat the patient.

From the chronology of the events as reported above, it is quite obvious that Mohd.Rafi was not well from the start. He must have been harbouring some serious illness even on the first day he reported at the clinic. Whoever treated him at that time did not recognize the gravity of his ailment thereby leaving him neglected in the camp for 5 days within which time his conditioned worsened and he died on the 6th day.

We are not sure who really attended to him in the camp’s clinic. Was he examined by an experienced doctor? However it is reasonably clear the boy’s illness was not taken seriously and therefore invaluable time was lost in administering early treatment for his ailment. Any disease will continue to run its natural course unless we detect it and intervene at an early stage using all the expertise and facilities at our disposal. The onus is on us for timely intervention not on the disease to wait for us.

The unfortunate death of Mohd.Rafi warrants a thorough investigation into the set up of the health environment and medical facilities at our NS camps all over the country
It is unacceptable to subject our children to the high risks of the present format of NS. The NS camps are located in remote areas with unsatisfactory arrangements for basic amenities and health and medical care. They are unnecessarily exposed to various pathogens of unknown virulence to which the children are not immune.

Imagine the torment and anguish of the parents in losing a child after 11 years of upbringing. It is an emotional wreck for the whole family. No amount of monetary compensation will ever be able to erase the misery for the rest of their lives.

The authorities responsible must place themselves in the position of the parents of Mohd.Rafi and the parents of other NS victims. They must search their conscience to see whether the NS programme is really necessary. Egoism and monetary considerations should not be allowed to cloud their minds in their decision.

The aim of the NS may be noble - to forge closer unity among the youth of various races but I cannot understand how this can be achieved in just 3 months when it could not be done after 11 years of schooling together.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Don't all religions lead to one same God?

Love,not convert one another

The nineteen South Korean Christian volunteers held hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan for six weeks were finally freed. It brought great relief not only to the hostages but to the whole international community. It is deeply distressing that two people lost their lives in the ordeal.

According to the Taliban, they were paid $20 million for the release of the hostages, a claim which the South Korean government denies vehemently.

Encouraged by the “reward”, the Taliban have wowed to continue their struggle with more such kidnappings and ransom. Meanwhile the Christian workers say that they went to spread God's love and carry out his wishes and their Afghan ordeal had only strengthened their resolve to send more missionaries. According to some of the hostages they had been tortured for refusing to embrace Islam.

We have a strange situation where the Christian workers went to Afghanistan to “convert” people there but in the process they were kidnapped and tortured to embrace Islam instead. In the process some lost their lives. Where does all these going to lead – where one religious group is trying to convert another to its own faith?

While both groups claim to be out to do God’s work, it is ironical that, in the final outcome, only money could free both of them from their predicament.

In a world plagued with so much hate and violence for fellow humans, we need religion to direct mankind to peace, love and harmony. It is sad that the very religions that were instituted to serve such a noble purpose are being hijacked for reasons contrary to its aims.

Instead of trying to convert others to our own religion, it would be a great service to mankind if we can convert them, by our examples, to become better humans in their own faith, as finally all religions lead to the same God, whom we call by different names.

Dr.Chris Anthony


Comments

drchris,

I wouldn't be so politically right or ignorant to share your titled opinion. As much as people want to highlight on the "conversion" part of the South Koreans, do we forget that they are there for humanitarian purposes also?

I'm speaking from a Christian faith that I believe they did it out of love. Whenever there are disasters around the world, who sets the precedence to relieve those unfortunate victims. I don't deny that there are other groups who contributes but if we look back at statistics, who kicks off such aids and also the amount put into it? I'm not here to glorify these people but rather to just highlight a fact.

Also if we have laws (be it gravitational law, mathematical law) to guard us in this world, why are we so certain that there aren't any laws guarding the heavenly realms? Can we regard ourselves dogmatic when 1+1=2? So will it be dogmatic to claim there is only one way to God?


By klyong2502, 5-Sep-2007

Ensure safety of passengers at all costs

No compromise on safety for any reason

The Road Transport Department (JPJ), police, Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board (CLVB), Puspakom and Immigration Department should be commended for swinging into action under Ops Bersih to check on buses and drivers at major stations and along highways following the Bukit Gantang bus crash recently.

This has created fear among errant bus drivers and owners of such buses causing many of them to flee or cease operation. There is now a worry that this could affect the coming balik kampung rushes for Hari Raya because there might not be enough drivers and buses to meet the surge in demand during the festive period.

The authorities have no choice but to keep up the pressure to ensure errant drivers and buses that are not roadworthy are kept off the roads permanently. The festive season may be around the corner but that shouldn’t be an excuse to let down on stringent enforcement of the laws governing public transport. The safety of the commuters is of paramount importance and that should never be compromised for whatever reasons.

While Ops Bersih and others like it are important and necessary, they are just short term measures to ensure the safety of public transport. While they are underway, long term measures should also be introduced to maintain an acceptable level of safety all times.

Renewal of driving licenses of bus drivers, road tax for buses and permits for bus operators should more stringent and must strictly based on the provisions of the rules governing them. Complacency and irresponsibility on the part of officers tasked with the job must be severely dealt with without fear or favour. Those who flout the laws must be made to face the music and that will also act as a deterrent for others intending to commit the same offense.

The existence of corruption in these areas of enforcement should be checked and top priority given to stamp out this enemy of the nation that, if allowed to continue, will ruin our aspirations to become a developed state in the near future.

Dr.Chris Anthony


Comments

It takes death to make the local machinery moving. What a sad joke. After all these years, they tell us they can do nothing as they have no jurisdiction over each other deparment. 50 years of progress, 50 years of preparation, 50 years of planning , all boiled down to this. TAK TAU and TAK BOLEH. Sad.

By Dr_Aoi, 3-Sep-2007

"IF WE COULD SEE INSIDE OTHERS' HEARTS"

"IF WE COULD SEE INSIDE OTHERS' HEARTS" Often we tend to be judgemental from what we see.hear and feel especially o...