10 September 2007

Unhealthy practice

The Sun

R. Nadeswaran and Terence Fernandez

PETALING JAYA (Sept 10, 2007): Middlemen stand to gain almost half-a-billion ringgit under the Road Transport Department (RTD)’s e-Kesihatan project to conduct drug tests on drivers, attendants and conductors of commercial vehicles.

By its own projections, Supremme Systems Sdn Bhd – the company awarded the concession by the Transport Ministry – will make RM92 million over 15 years.

But those in the know argue that this figure is grossly under-estimated, claiming that RM400 million would be a more accurate number, based on 800,000 drivers.

However, working on 1.2 million drivers – the company’s projection – the figure would cross the RM500 million mark.

It was announced yesterday that from Oct 1 those applying for or renewing commercial vehicle licences must go for medical tests at designated panel clinics.

The Transport Ministry signed the concession agreement on Sept 3 and almost immediately doctors were invited to register with Supremme Systems.

According to the agreement, the drivers are to be tested for opium, cannabis albumin, sugar and antropine substances.

What makes this venture stink of another money-making scheme involving a chosen few, is that Supremme Systems will not conduct the tests. Instead, it will be carried out by a panel of doctors selected by the company, who will be paid less than half the proposed RM85 fee – RM30; with RM20 going for laboratory tests.

The remainder – about RM35 – will go to the company.

Many medical practitioners oppose the arrangement which they feel is nothing more than a rent-seeking exercise.

The doctors claim that they had, through Koperasi Doktor Malaysia Bhd, submitted a comprehensive proposal to the ministry last year with two scales of fees – much lower than Supremme Systems’.

They argue that it is the doctor who will have to carry out the tests and take responsibility for the certification and that there is no necessity for middlemen to be involved.

"They are getting paid for doing nothing. Any monitoring must be conducted by the RTD," said one doctor, adding that fees can be kept low if such middlemen were eliminated.

"It seems that the main agenda here is to make money and not to have more competent drivers on our roads,’’ said the doctor.

The practitioners also argue that Supremme Systems had been selective when deciding who can participate in the scheme.

"Why should only a selected few be involved when the whole profession should help ensure that we have safe drivers on our roads?’’ asked another doctor.

Letters of invitation to be a panel member of e-Kesihatan have been sent to several private practitioners, asking them, among others to pay Supremme Systems RM100 as registration, stamp duties and service agreement charges.

Those interested to be panel doctors are also required to have professional indemnity insurance. Supremme Systems was previously known as Pantai Supremme System Sdn Bhd.

According to information obtained from a search with the Companies Commisson yesterday, it is owned by a company called Hormat Bestari, which in turn is controlled by Nordin Yahya, Tunku Syed Razman Tunku Syed Idrus, Kuwi Anak Mel and Yew Bein Gin.

Nordin and Tunku Syed Razman control Arah Fikir Sdn Bhd, which owns 48% of Hormat Bestari. Kuwi and Yew control Kerjaya Unggul Sdn Bhd which owns 50% of Hormat Bestari.

Nordin Yahya was an original shareholder of Pantai Supremme through a company called Title Effect. Both Title Effect and Pantai Holdings (which was subsequently taken over by Singapore based Parkway Holdings) used to own Pantai Supremme.

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