Monday, October 27, 2008

What do Malaysians want?

Let me carefully list down the perceptions of many Malaysians of our Government:

1. The Government does not care for the people
2. The Government is weak
3. The Government is poor

Yet, our Government provides :

1. Medical subsidies
People from all walks of life can get medical treatment in Government hospitals for RM 1 (under a GP) and RM 5 (under a specialist).

The generosity of the Government under Malaysia's medical system does not include insurances. Imagine if you purchased insurances. You won't even need to pay RM 1 or RM 5.

2. 3000 JPA, MARA and Petronas Scholarships (this amount is only an approximation but the range is around this figure)
Can anyone tell me which Government in this world gives out 3000 scholarships to the youths of Malaysia?

I can only say - Malaysia.

Malaysians are actually an ungrateful lot. We always compare our wealth disparities with other countries who are developed like Singapore, Australia, US and UK.

How true is that?

Let me share my experience in Australia. A few times I seeked medical help at the Hospital for a skin infection and a stiff muscle.

When I registered at the counter of the Emergency Department, I was told "the fees today is AUD 165" on one occasion and "the fees today is AUD 345" on another. The average wages for a part time employee in Australia is just around 16 - 22 AUD.

Thankfully, JPA purchased a Overseas Student Health Cover in Australia for me. If I am not mistaken, OSHC policy costs about AUD 380.00 for a basic insurance scheme. This scheme covers 90% of each of my medical visit and I have to pay the first AUD 30 of my medicine, if any.

Imagine the bill?

Australia's health system is in a total mess and I am sure UK too. On each visit to the doctor, it took me 2 hours after registration JUST TO SEE THE NURSE.

The nurse then took my blood pressure and my temperature. The staff then sent me back to the waiting hall where I waited for another 2 hours just to see the doctor.

A total 4 hours. And I dare to say this again under Oath. At Ipoh's General Hospital, the Hospital has this policy of 45 minutes to 1 hour wait only before you see the doctor.

I am sure this is a nationwide policy already by Ministry of Health (most probably under Chua Soi Lek's era).

Why praise the systems of other countries when we are being so bias? Why are we discriminating our country? Can we not praise the medical staff of Malaysia and the system?

I am sure comparatively with the other developed country's models, our medical system is not as bad as described. It is just that people tend to subscribe to negative perceptions and generalize our system as a bad one.

For those in Canberra and Sydney, if you read the news, there were patients who had to sleep in their cars although on drip, sleep in bed stationed at the hallway of the hospital and emergency room, and some even turned away.

The lack of hospital beds have caused a big dilemma and politicians are still indecisive of how to solve the matter in the short run.

Remember the case of 10 Downing Street and Lee Kuan Yew? Lee Kuan Yew's wife was said to be needing medical attention in UK while on a trip there. There was a report that Lee Kuan Yew had 10 Downing Street to interfere and sped up his wife's queue and subsequently, Singapore Airlines flew her home.

Lee Kuan Yew caused a furore when he announced that but later he cleared up by saying that 10 Downing Street did not interfere, although the Singapore Embassy made a call to Tony Blair.

I leave the benefit of the doubt and the truth behind this to you to decide. You can read more HERE.

With that, I can say that it must have been a long queue!

I am sad today for I do not know why we Malaysians and the many doctors are enjoying the systems built overseas.

Malaysia's system in place might not be perfect but the patients' needs are catered for, as compared to the models in developed countries.

Perhaps, the logical explanation will fall to the point of wages. This can possibly be solved with the interesting idea of a high cost economy proposed by Tun Dr Mahathir.

Although this will attract more human capital back to Malaysia, but it will surely cause a hit in our trade sectors because our traded items will be more expensive.

It will be a trade off. Under a carefully managed economic plan, if the benefits weigh more than the costs, this idea by Tun will be beneficial to the country.

Let us talk about scholarships then. The Malaysian Government rewards deserving students be it under Bank Negara Malaysia, Petronas, MARA or JPA with scholarships and the opportunity to study overseas.

Oh yes, need I say that the figure I estimated above is just for overseas scholarships? Petronas, MARA and JPA also provide scholarships to students to study locally.

Such a "poor, lousy and weak" Malaysian Government can give out 3000 scholarships per annum for students to study in colleges and oversea universities that have world class recognition in core sectors like Medicine, Finance, Biotechnology, Psychology, Economics and lots more.

I am just wondering if the rich US, UK, and Australian Government gives out 3000 scholarships per annum to students?

No? The argument of many who migrates is that the US, UK and Australia provide a better system of governance and policies.

The Malaysian Government should consider to dismantle all subsidies to our medical system and transfer the costs to the consumers of the public health system. Perhaps that way, people will then be able to see how generous our Malaysian Government is.

I might be sarcastic here, but it could be implemented. This will provide the insurance industry in Malaysia to bloom.

We should also forego the provision of scholarships to students and instead, leave our children with a postponed debt using the loans system like PTPTN.

Leaders and communities will no longer need to talk about "unfair" allocation of scholarships of from the perspective of cronyism or races.

We can then provide loans to deserving students who want to study locally or overseas based on an agreeable scheme which require students to repay the total costs plus a low interest repayment or fully convertible into a work contract under Government Linked Companies or any Government agencies.

That way, Malaysia will have lots more money to develop the infrastructure system, the communications structure and also the efficiency of our Government.

It will also fulfill the wishes of the people who wants a country that models the developed ones like Singapore, Australia, UK and US.

We should also perhaps follow the tax system of Australia where the highest tax bracket is $47,100 plus 45c for each $1 over $150,000. We can assume it is 45%.

What about UK? It is at 40% of savings income and all other income that includes employment wages.

Let us truly consider a shift of burden from the Government to the people, just like the models in countries where Malaysians idolize and migrate to.

This will then lead us to a serious consideration of a high cost economy. Malaysians, hopefully are realistic. I hope we are not expecting to earn AUD 5000 a month (after exchange rates conversion) and expect to continue paying AUD 1.50 for a plate of char koay teow, AUD 0.30 for a piece of roti canai or AUD 0.80 for a daily bus fair.

Or do Malaysians really expect that? I pay AUD 12.50 for a plate of char koay teow, AUD 6 for a daily bus fare and AUD 8 for roti canai here in Australia.

And who earns AUD 5000 a month in Australia? Teachers perhaps. In percentage terms, comparing job to job and wages to wages, Malaysia's percentage of expenditure on roti canai per monthly wage for a teacher is lower than in Australia.

Perhaps, we should really consider Tun's idea for a high cost economy? This will surely reduce the income disparities of Malaysia with the rest of the world in the developed countries category.

But there are of course trade offs. We will lose out in terms of tradeable sectors because our exports will be more expensive and costs for investors in Malaysia will be higher.

It will be highly uncertain if we can get AUD 5000 a month and expect to pay AUD 1.50 for a plate of char koay teow.

What do Malaysians want? I am willing to hear. Do not be unrealistic. Be professional and well informed, and I will be willing to chat and discuss issues from a macro perspective.



Jimmy Tham said...

I believe people at majority are angry about the allocation of scholarships, not the amount. It is the disillusions and despairs from seeing your child's dream crushed to the bottom of their world when obtaining perfect A's itself is not a passport to their dream course. It is the "bangsa" part when you filled up the forms that will determine to a certain extent how you will fare. Assuming malaysia only gives out 300 scholarships, but to deserving students only, you can see those complaints of unfairness will quiet down almost immediately.

Australians are covered by Medicare by legislations and it is free for those earning below certain income. Private hospitals here offer way much better service but I'm not sure if it is covered under the med scheme.

With mixed reports on Msia's healthcare system, I have got no comment on it. Guidelines and rules are 1 thing, how things are being carried out is another. Even noble aims such as NEP can be abused to the hilts when conflict of interests arises. I would just say, let the public decide, if the public hospital services is naturally that good, there's no need to flaunt it as people will naturally go there on their own. Never really been to a public hospital before but my experience with Tung Shin hospital was a pleasant 1 though.

The Brave said...

I agree with what Jimmy said.

Just to highlight and answer one of your questions:"3000 JPA, MARA and Petronas Scholarships (this amount is only an approximation but the range is around this figure)
Can anyone tell me which Government in this world gives out 3000 scholarships to the youths of Malaysia? "

The USA gives out far more than that...So, there we have it.

Jimmy Tham said...

lol~ dah habis exam dah bang.. senanag ni~ kacau sikit.

I don't know if US government really gives out that much of scholarship or the scholarship itself are from private institution but I can bloody name 1 socialist country that has better med care n doctors than us. ^^ Cuba and believe it or not Jamaica is a country that is more adavance in med than us (at least that's what the news report were trying to say when they justified badawi's visit and the collaborations between the 2 countries)

Here in Aust, they do not have anything close or similar to the hawker style food we have in malaysia, eating out is a social event or a luxury to some. the closest I can get is fast food outlets and bakery shop (cheapo western food) and to compare asian foods here vis-a-vis my fav char kuey teow in msia might not portray the right result after all. It might not be accurate, but Big Mac index can be used to gauge the purchasing power n price level of respective countries.