Media statement by Liew Chin Tong in George Town on Friday, 10th February 2012:
1Care - Calling for the formation of a parliamentary select committee
The controversial 1Care healthcare scheme has come under fire from healthcare practitioners and the public who claim that individuals and businesses will be forced to hand over 10 per cent of their earnings each month to the government-run insurance fund.
The Malaysian Insider today quoted an anonymous source that the 1Care healthcare scheme is at a "very, very advanced" stage of planning and is not as preliminary as the Health Ministry has made it out to be.
Such a scheme is first attempt in decades to impose a new statutory deduction from employees' income since the introduction of Employment Provident Fund (EPF) payment in 1951 and Employees' Social Security Act (SOCSO) in 1969.
The Parliament, the stakeholders, and the 12 million Malaysian workforce should be fully consulted in the most transparent manner before any decision is made. The Health Ministry and the Government is morally obliged to disclose the details of the various serious proposals.
Before any such scheme proceeds, two major structural issues must be dealt with.
First, in the spate of privatisation and outsourcing in the 1990s, substantial components of the public health system such as hospital cleaning, clinical waste handling and pharmacy were outsourced to private profiteers, resulting in the ballooning of public healthcare cost.
Any new scheme must ensure that the Malaysian employees are not made to pay for such abuses and excesses.
Second, most major "private" hospitals in this country are owned by government-linked corporations (GLCs). For instance, Petronas owns the most expensive hospital in the country, Prince Court, while Sime Darby owns Sime Medical Centre.
While the government facilities suffer from inadequate resources and talents, hospitals owned by the GLCs which are supposedly the guardian of public wealth and assets, serve as their competitors.
A parliamentary select committee should be formed to deal with the various proposals as well as dealing with the fundamental structural issues in the Malaysian healthcare system to ensure that the public would not be made to pay for private profit.
The Governemnt must come clean on the controversial 1Care healthcare scheme and not continue to shroud it in secrecy.
* Liew Chin Tong, DAP International Secretary & MP for Bukit Bendera