Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Caretaker gov't to revive contentious e-Kesihatan quietly?

"Dunya" reliefburden@yahoo.com.sg

Caretaker gov't to revive contentious e-Kesihatan quietly?
Andrew Ong | Mar 2, 08
Transport Ministry officials appear to be quietly finalising the implementation of the controversial e-Kesihatan scheme in the midst of the ongoing general elections campaign.

In a letter dated Feb 25, almost two weeks after Parliament was dissolved, the ministry had invited representatives from 10 government offices plus the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) to attend a meeting tomorrow morning on the matter.

The letter, made available to Malaysiakini, was referenced: �Meeting to finalise the e-Kesihatan agreement between the government and Supremme Systems Sdn Bhd�.

medical doctors in malaysia 120106The government agencies invited included representatives from Finance Ministry, Health Ministry, Economic Planning Unit, Attorney-General's Chambers, Road Transport Department. The Malaysian Medical Council was also invited.

The scheme was drawn up last year to regulate compulsory medical checks for commercial vehicle drivers - particularly to detect drug abuse - as a means of reducing road accidents. Medical data obtained under the scheme would be collated through a online centralised system.

Little-known entity Supremme Systems was to be commissioned by the government to implement the scheme as a gateway provider beginning Oct 1 last year. The fee for each medical test is RM80 to be collected by Supreme Systems which will also have the authority to appoint panel doctors for the scheme.

Rent-seeking opportunity?
Announced in September last year, the scheme was met with heavy resistence by the affected parties.

Transport company drivers and attendants claimed that the RM80 fee was exorbitant as at present it only costs RM10 to renew their public services vehicles (PSV), goods driving vehicles (GDL) and conductor (KON) licenses.
It is estimated that there are 700,000 individuals who need to renew these licences annually. Supremme Systems stands to make millions of ringgit through the scheme as the licences cannot be renewed unless accompanied by an all-clear medical certificate for one of the appointed panel doctors.

express bus ekspress crowd 050208Medical practitioners felt that the middleman role played by Supremme Systems was a rent-seeking exercise.

The executive director of Supremme Systems is Nordin Yahaya, an former Road Transport Department (RTD) director. Another is Kamaluddin Yusoff, who was the RTD Federal Territories director in the 1980s.

Following the public outcry, e-Kesihatan was suspended indefinitely by the cabinet in late September.
Selangor and Kuala Lumpur Lorry Drivers Association secretary-general Alvin Choong, when contacted today, expressed shock over the contents and timing of the Transport Ministry letter.

"Why are they rushing through this project when there are no ministers around?

There is merely an interim government. The names mentioned in the letter are only civil servants. Who are they to decide on such a big project?" asked Choong.

�Just not right
Chong said his association was among several groups which had tried since Friday to be part of the inter-government agency meeting tomorrow but their request was turned down.

"Instead, we were told that discussions would be held with us at a later time.
What's the point of discussions if the system is already implemented?" he asked

Primary Care Doctors' Organisation Malaysia (PCDOM) president Dr Molly Cheah Bee Li said that the Transport Ministry appears to be trying to revive the scheme without proper consultation.

"To do this when there is only a caretaker government is just not right," said Cheah, whose organisation had previously forwarded a zero-cost system to RTD which was similar in purpose to the one offered by Supremme Systems.
PCDOM's computerised system, which would bring down the cost of the medical checks, was proposed to the RTD in 2006 but was ignored.

Attempts to reach Transport Ministry secretary-general Zakaria Bahari for comments were unsuccessful.

Probable Source: MalaysiaKini
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