13 May 2010

Whistleblower gets show-cause letter

By Ding Jo-Ann

PETALING JAYA, 13 May 2010: A doctor who went public with serious allegations of mismanagement and cronyism in an Orang Asli hospital in Gombak has continued to be targeted for her outspokenness.

Dr Selva Vathany Kanapathi Pillai told The Nut Graph she received a show-cause letter from the Jabatan Hal Ehwal Orang Asli (JHEOA) last month.

"The JHEOA asked me to explain why I took part in a Bar Council press conference without my department head Dr Saaiah Abdullah's permission," Dr Selva said in a phone interview.

"The letter said that if I did not reply with an adequate explanation, action would be taken against me."

The Bar Council press conference was held on 11 Feb 2010 to highlight Dr Selva's complaints about the Gombak hospital. It raised issues such as the high rate of malnutrition among Orang Asli children, and the use of hospital facilities by non-Orang Asli patients. This was despite the fact that the hospital was specifically set up to improve Orang Asli health.

The Bar Council had also called on the hospital to be placed under the purview of the Health Ministry instead of the Rural and Regional Development Ministry, which is currently the case.

Dr Selva was also present when Orang Asli representatives handed in a memorandum to the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) on 16 March, complaining about poor services at the hospital.

JHEOA pressure

Dr Selva had earlier told The Nut Graph how she was sidelined by the hospital's management due to her raising of mismanagement issues.

Dr Selva (Courtesy of Bar Council)Shortly after she sent a formal complaint letter to the Health Ministry in late 2009, she was told she was to be transferred to Kedah.

"I am not under JHEOA's authority anymore because of my transfer. I am now directly under the Health Ministry," said Dr Selva.

"It doesn't make sense that I am sent a show-cause letter by the very department and people that I have been making complaints about."

Dr Selva was unable to supply The Nut Graph with a copy of the JHEOA letter as it was marked "sulit".

Dr Selva said the show-cause letter had also asked her to give an explanation about why she had participated in a demonstration in front of the Gombak hospital on 24 Feb 2010.

"I wasn't even at the hospital on the day of the demonstration," Dr Selva said. "I was already preparing to leave because of my transfer to Kedah."

The Nut Graph previously tried to reach JHEOA director-general Datuk Mohd Sani Mistam for comment on issues affecting the hospital, but was told he was away till 17 May. Requests for his deputy, Nisra Nisran Asra Ramlan, to respond were also in vain.

No resolution

Dr Selva is vexed that despite the recent attention the Gombak Hospital has been receiving, the authorities are focusing on issuing show-cause letters instead of dealing with the malnutrition issue among Orang Asli children.

"There is already a comprehensive Health Ministry food-basket programme in place. It is not just for the 'hardcore poor', as claimed by JHEOA's director-general, but for all malnourished children," said Dr Selva.

Under the programme, underweight children receive monthly food baskets from the Health Ministry. The children are monitored until they fall within the recommended weight for their age.

Joseph Entulu Belaun (Source:
parlimen.gov.my) On 17 April 2010, The Malay Mail reported that Rural and Regional Development Deputy Minister Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun had refuted Dr Selva's claims in Parliament.

He stated that a thorough investigation had been carried out, which showed that there was no truth to her statements.

"In short, she is lying," the deputy minister reportedly said.

Dr Selva, however, pointed out that the Rural and Regional Development Ministry was not the appropriate body to investigate her claims. "They are not medical practitioners, nor do they have expertise on medical ethics or medical management," she said.

"I have full faith that the Health Ministry would be able to conduct a fair and transparent investigation through the Malaysian Medical Council."

She added, however, that if concrete steps were not taken to improve the situation, she would not hesitate to raise the matter with international organisations such the World Health Organisation.

10 May 2010

K'tangan awam naik gaji antara elemen MEB

Menaikkan gaji sejuta kakitangan awam di negara ini menjadi antara elemen utama bagi menjayakan Model Ekonomi Baru (MEB) kata Timbalan Menteri Kewangan Senator Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussein.

Beliau berkata langkah itu bagi memastikan hasrat MEB untuk menjadikan rakyat di negara ini daripada golongan berpendapatan sederhana kepada rakyat berpendapatan tinggi.

"Langkah ini pernah dilaksanakan di Singapura beberapa tahun dahulu yang bertujuan untuk meningkatkan produktiviti sektor awam sekaligus menjamin pelaksanaan pembangunan yang cemerlang.

"Singapura telah menetapkan pendapatan gaji sektor awam yang tinggi dan selesa sehingga mereka berjaya meningkatkan prestasi ekonomi melalui peningkatan motivasi pekerja.

"Maka penjawat awam di negara tidak boleh diabaikan," katanya ketika berucap merasmikan majlis penutupan mesyuarat agung tiga tahunan Kesatuan Perkhidmatan Teknik Semenanjung Malaysia cawangan Kelantan di sini hari ini.

Awang Adek berkata kerajaan akan mengambil langkah tertentu bagi memastikan gaji para pekerja dinaikkan selaras dengan matlamat Model Ekonomi Baru (MEB) untuk menjadikan Malaysia sebuah negara maju yang berpendapatan tinggi.

Beliau berkata, secara purata kini 80 peratus rakyat di negara ini memperoleh pendapatan RM21,000 setahun dan dengan pelaksanaan MEB itu, kerajaan berhasrat untuk meningkatkan pendapatan rakyatnya kepada RM45,000 setahun.

- Bernama

'Common to pick envoys without diplomatic background'


KUALA LUMPUR: Appointments of politicians and non-career diplomats as Malaysian envoys are a common practice.

Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Senator A. Kohilan Pillay said the selection of envoys without diplomatic background was common in the foreign service.

"This is based on their talents, merits and a good track record, with Wisma Putra confident that non-career diplomats appointed as envoys can deliver," he told the New Straits Times.

Asked how selections were made, he said envoys were drafted from among the most talented and best suited for such foreign postings.

"It is also based on their overall performance and achievements over the past 10 to 15 years. If their service to the people has been good, then they can perform."

Kohilan said non-diplomats appointed as ambassadors and high commissioners were usually specialists in certain areas.

An envoy's term is on a contract of between three and four years, with the possibility of extension if they deliver. He added that besides politicians, non-career diplomats also included lecturers.

Kohilan was asked to comment on the appointment of former chief of defence forces, Gen (R) Tan Sri Dr Abdul Aziz Zainal as ambassador to France.

Aziz and three others received their instruments of appointment from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong at Istana Negara on Thursday.

A politician who is currently serving as an ambassador is Datuk Seri Dr Jamaludin Jarjis, who is Malaysian ambassador to the United States.

Since its establishment, Wisma Putra has had the services of such personalities as Tan Sri Daniel Tajem, Datuk John Nuek and Tan Sri Jamil Johari (from Sarawak), and Tan Sri Thomas Jayasooria and Tun Fuad Stephens (from Sabah) either as ambassadors or high commissioners.

Former ambassador Datuk Deva Mohd Ridzam said, however, it was not advisable for non-career diplomats to be appointed envoys as there was a tendency for them to fall short of expectations.

"Without years of being in the rough and tumble of diplomacy from bottom up, there is a tendency for non-career diplomats to be hesitant, halting and lacking punch and bite in interactions with clients."

He said diplomacy was a profession which required specialised knowledge and skills and years of experience.

"For a career ambassador, his constituency is the nation and the government as a whole, so to speak.

"He is not partisan or beholden to any interest or individual."

400 Chinese turn up for MACC jobs


By Minderjeet Kaur

KUALA LUMPUR: The long queue of about 400 Chinese young adults lining up for job interviews with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) yesterday is an indication that the community wants to work with the government, the Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia said yesterday.

The association's honorary deputy secretary-general, Dr Chin Yew Sin, said the unexpected large turnout had dispelled the perception that the Chinese were not interested in joining the government service.

"Due to the perception, no one had expected such a big turnout. It was beyond our expectation as there are only 40 vacancies," he said.

The exercise is an MACC and Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia initiative to open the commission's doors to more non-Malays.

Some of the youths came from Penang and Johor, with the hopes of becoming MACC investigation officers and assistant investigation officers.

The interviews were scheduled from 10am to 2pm at the Chinese Assembly Hall here. Most of them were there at 8am.

MACC officers who had printed about 200 job application forms immediately started to print more copies.

Although only 10 per cent of the applicants would be offered jobs, Dr Chin said it was a good starting point.

The association would request the government to work with non-governmental organisations to encourage more Chinese youths to work in the civil service.

Dr Chin said the federation would also check if there were vacancies in the army and the Public Services Department for the Chinese community.

Dr Chin said some of the youths were fresh graduates while others were looking for better job opportunities.

"Some of them are here because they want to see the country free of corruption while others are here for better salaries and incentives," he said.

Degree holders would earn between RM3,000 and RM4,900 a month while diploma holders would receive RM2,500.

They are also entitled to allowances as well as RM200 to RM400 for housing and RM400 for entertainment.

MACC's assistant commissioner for corporate communications Zainal Adam said the good turnout showed MACC was well received by the Chinese community.

"We welcome them to join us to fight corruption in the country."

One of the applicants, Chan Saw Seng, 26, from Penang, said he applied for a job in MACC because there were few Chinese working in the government sector.

Hong Chin Chin, 24, a Universiti Malaya law graduate, said she wanted to be part of MACC to help fight corruption while Terence Ng, 23, a graduate of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, was attracted by the salary and incentives.

Our men among the best, says fire chief


By Kristina George

PUTRAJAYA: After devoting 26 years of his life to saving lives, Fire and Rescue Department director-general Datuk Hamzah Abu Bakar will miss the adventures of a firefighter when he retires in October.

"Over the past 26 years, I have watched the department grow from what I would call a shambles, into the now high-tech, highly developed buildings we now see in our communities.

"Back then, we not only had to make do with the most basic facilities offered to us, but we also had to deal with a lack of exposure and training as we were solely dependent on the local authorities and state government allocations."

He said, currently, the government spent billions of ringgit to ensure the department was kept up to date with the latest technology and state of the art facilities to provide better services.

Under the Eighth Malaysia Plan, the government set aside RM1.2 billion and later increased the allocation to RM1.4 billion under the Ninth Malaysia Plan once they realised the importance of further developing the department in the early nineties, he said.

He was speaking to reporters during a special interview in conjunction with the 35th National Firefighters Day celebrations held in Malacca yesterday.

"In a span of 35 years, we definitely have come a long way."

He said the department had already managed to achieve more than 96 per cent of its targeted key performance index, especially with regard to the rescue team's response time to emergency calls.

Hamzah said that there were three categories for each team to respond to an emergency call.

Category A comprises of calls made within the vicinity of the department or within the city which would entail firefighters reaching the emergency scene within 10 minutes of receiving the call, while category B comprises calls made from the borders of the towns that would entail firefighters responding to the call within 20 minutes.

He said in the case of category C, however, no specific response time could be set as calls made under this category were usually in the interior and remote areas that were not easily accessible.

"Take, for instance, a fire breaks out in the interiors of Sabah and Sarawak where road connections are not easily accessible. There is no way of telling how long it would take for our teams to reach the emergency site."

Hamzah said apart from the emergency response time, the department had also managed to meet the international standards on the ratio of firefighters per population.

"The set standards are one firefighter to every 2,000 people in a population and we have achieved this with over 253 stations built within the communities nationwide."

He urged graduates with a minimum of a diploma to join the department, as there was a need for more specialists.

The department currently has five academies in Wakaf Tapai, Kuala Kubu Baru, Ipoh, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.

"Next month, the department will also beef up its air wing unit with the newly acquired Agusta AW139 and will see eight rotorcraft, including four existing Mi17 and two Agusta 109.

"We have 13 pilots at the moment but there is a need for more.

"A Reader's Digest survey said that we are one of the top five most trusted professions in Malaysia. Our jobs are no longer about simply putting out fires anymore.

"We also provide a complete career path in various other fields especially the science-related fields."

Yesterday's Firefighters Day celebrations saw more than 13,000 firefighters gathering at the Dataran Pahlawan Malacca to commemorate the firemen who died on duty and recognise those who have contributed significantly to the department.

"This line of duty is one that requires a huge deal of nobility as we have pledged to put other lives ahead of ours in line with our department's motto: Prepared to Save."