Do our leaders care enough to do this ?

According to a Malaysiakini report,

“Deputy Health Minister Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad sparked an uproar in the Dewan Rakyat when he described medical doctors as having a “licence to kill”.

Replying to Alexander Nanta Linggi (BN-Kapit) on the shortage of doctors in remote areas of Sarawak, he explained that local universities are not producing sufficiently skilled doctors.

As a result, he said, the ministry is unable to approve their employment, adding: “As you all know, doctors have a licence to kill and a licence to cure.”

 Although it is wrong to say that doctors are licensed to kill,  I think what he meant was that the standard of the medical graduates are now so low that they might have inadvertently, though not intentionally, caused deaths of patients who might otherwise be able to be saved by a more competently trained doctor.

It is a known fact among medical fraternity that the standard of our medical faculties is not as good as before. Many medical graduates are so poor in their skill  that they often miss diagnosis. How are you going to treat when you are not even able to diagnose properly?

Many of us in the private sector had the experience of referring urgent (emergency) cases to government hospitals, only to have these patients given cursory attention and outpatient treatment and sent home. Many of these were acute cases and they had to seek treatment in private hospitals where emergency procedures were done . There were of course instances where because of this delay,  death might have been caused. These are not uncommon, just ask doctors in private practice.

I had just a few weeks back talked about the deteriorating standard of MAs and nurses in hospitals ( refer to my post ” honest answers needed” ). Some of the MAs(medical assistants) are not able to stitch a simple wound.  I had asked in that earlier post-about the NS death- whether the death of the NS trainee could have been due to  the incompetency and failure of diagnosis of the paramedical personnel in that particular NS camp? Senior doctors in the Ministry had been telling me that the standards of nurses and MAs are dropping. They are the front line personnel in a hospital ward and their incompetency would have caused unnecessary death and suffering.

All these are part of the bigger syndrome of Loss of Excellence.

It is really a pity. University of Malaya medical faculty used to be the pride of our country. It ranked among the top three medical schools in Asia in the late sixties to seventies, along with University of Singapore and University of Hong Kong. While the latter 2 are still among the best in the world, our medical schools are no longer recognised by BMC, meaning by the international medical fraternity.

Our soccer team then, a team with amateurs like Mokhtar Dahari , Santokh Singh, Arumugam, Soh Chin An used to beat South Korea regularly, and gave us soccer-loving Malaysians so much of pride and happiness. Look at it now, with ranks of over 100 and dropping, it is now counted among countries like Laos and Cambodia.

Not too long ago, a judge was quoted as saying that the standard among the young lawyers has declined.

My late father used to tell me: to build something takes years, but to destroy something takes only a few seconds. The excellence that we have had in the sixties and seventies, in practically all fields, took many years to achieve, in a large part due to the British system of meritocracy and  fairness . The decline in standard of almost everything started with the “Cekap. Amanah , Bersih” administration in the early eighties. It had since becoming worse, affecting our police force, our judiciary, our civil service, and so on. Are we more “cekap” now? Are we more “amanah” now? Are we more “bersih” now? I leave you to answer these.

 To reverse this loss of excellence will take at least a generation or 2. There are not many good teachers left in all sectors, in schools, in universities, in hospitals, in public service and so on. Many have passed away, some have left the country, many have retired. Mediocre teachers cannot produce good quality students. So we need at least a few decades to bring back excellence, if we start now.

The solution is simple, but to carry it out needs determination and a steel-like resolve.  We just need to bring back meritocracy and fairness in all fields. This is a simple answer, but are our leaders  strong enough to do this?

Do our leaders have what it takes to do this? Do our leaders care enough to do this?

Related posts:

Excellence – have we lost the urge ?

Race politics and brain drain

Bring back the glory

Elitish universities – will they remain as a dream ?


22 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. folo4
    May 27, 2008 @ 14:42:24

    nope, our leaders are incompetent humans with piss-poor morality and corrupted bigots.

    We’re doomed. At the very least, we would get assimilated by illustrious countries whose virtues would probably rub off on us, allowing us to recover.

    Come on, prove me wrong. In this pivotal century, is there any instances of Malaysia doing things right?


  2. Peter Yew
    May 27, 2008 @ 15:26:08

    The Honorable Deputy Health Minister spoke in jest of course that doctors have licence to kill, not literally, but upon reflection I think what he meant was doctors are protected professionally unless they are proven to have acted negligently. In a sense if a patient was to die under a doctor’s treatment and no negligence can be proven what can the patient’s family do? Doctors are taught and trained to cure and heal but nothing is written that he guarantees healing. We are all at their mercy because we trust our lives to their care.

    Of all professions, doctors are the ones who make a difference between life and death. Hence the need to choose your doctors carefully.


  3. aadya
    May 27, 2008 @ 16:15:47

    Brilliantly put Dr Hsu, there is nothing in what you write in your post about the state of medical services that I do not agree with. The cases involving doctor’s negligence and carelessness in hospitals (and recently in the NS), is it my paranoid observation or is it really happening one too many times these days?

    Peter also has a point, it is also my observation that people are just hawking around waiting for a single screwed up word/statement/action by BN MPs and they get fired at like there’s no tomorrow. If only we had more mature people who understands and interpret the situation as a whole better like Dr Hsu and Peter here instead of literally taking in the words they say word by word.


  4. daffodils
    May 27, 2008 @ 17:17:59

    Getting ahead is ostensibly based on individual merit, which is generally viewed as a combination of factors including innate abilities, working hard, having the right attitude, and having high moral character and integrity. It doesn’t seem to apply to everyone across the board. The playing field is not level.

    It is really a sad state of affairs where those who are academically competent and dynamic are not in the midst of our educational institutions. It is imperative that we have the right people who are truly qualified to teach in our public schools. How our children turn out to be depends on the education they receive in school and to a certain extent proper upbringing at home

    We have heard enough of mishaps that shouldn’t have happened in our hospitals. Medicine is a discipline dealing with lives. Dare the public trust their health in the hands of those whom they doubt in competence? Incredible that STPM being thought of as a difficult subject, we have one year where 128 students who scored the maximum CGPA of four were denied places to pursue medicine in our local universities.


  5. pilocarpine
    May 27, 2008 @ 17:56:54

    playing the race card ain’t going to get our country moving…
    medical field needs the best, irrespective of race.
    even if you get the incompetent ones a license, it would probably be a license to kill.
    some people just prefer to keep one eye tightly closed to make the public happy and make them suffer in midst of all these false happiness.


  6. pilocarpine
    May 27, 2008 @ 17:59:02

    btw, our leaders, doesnt really lead, except for exhibitionism n corruption


  7. nick
    May 27, 2008 @ 18:14:47

    Our Nation is blessed with bountiful resources and very few natural calamities. Our people are complacent and tendency towards laziness. There is no one way to manage a country and so Malaysia has learnt to its detriment that since the NEP was introduced coupled with emphasis towards Bahasa instead of the English language has produced mediocrity in most sections of our society, be it the medical profession, the legal profession, our sports, our Universities, etc etc. But amidst the gloom, there is still plenty of hope. I choose my doctors carefully, same with lawyers to fight my cases. We have a choice you know. The Columbia Hospital in Seremban 2 is staffed with some brilliant doctors and along with many of my colleagues, we singed praises to no end. The fees are also reasonable and I am willing to fork out money where I receive quality health services. As for the state of our football, I can’t understand how a nation of 25 Mn people can lose to Singapore ???? But then, we must remember that the trials and selection for the youngsters for youth academy is based on race. You don’t believe? My nephew was rejected along with all Chinese and Indians. Anyway, let them rot. I have my Manchester United !!!!


  8. Leroy Glinchy
    May 27, 2008 @ 22:19:50

    This is a nice post here are a few of my thoughts:

    1. I was a medical student. I quit due to many factors, one of them was that I was not comfortable with the amount of responsibility. I can’t speak for anyone else, but there was an enormous amount of pressure to stay in despite the fact that I just didn’t feel right about the physical exam. I tried nursing and had the same problem.

    I have quit medicine and have never been happier.

    It is funny that the outside view of medicine is so different than how it actually is from day to day. For me, it was very boring, gross, and stressful. I have ages away from making any money, and I was becoming poorer and poorer as my student loans added up.

    I have only remained in contact with a few of my friends and the most enthusiastic were miserable for years.

    2. As for our leaders, I think that the idea in the media I have seen is that there is something embarassing about competency. Whenever an issue of knowledge comes up to a politician there is a level of anger and arrogance I have not seen anywhere outside the ghetto street corner before.

    “Shit! I don’t know thaaaat!” said very proudly as if it would be a sin to actually know something.

    Better to just assert oneself as supreme and above actual day to day “knowledge”. Being good at stuff is for losers.

    I don’t believe #2, but this is the impression I was getting before I tossed my television brain-washing thingie into the garbage.

    I think competence is sexy, and it is the most attractive thing about my wife. That she’s smart, curious, and constantly learning new things.


  9. romerz
    May 27, 2008 @ 23:55:36

    Dr Hsu,

    The problem with Malaysian football today is with the governing body, FAM. (I’ll expand on that later)

    In reply to nick, they are not racist in nature. Unfortunately it is a whole hosts of problems which beset them which makes them unable to respond accordingly. Its more about the office bearers not willing to tolerate those with opposing views from them that is the problem.

    I have to admit that they do do things democratically, ie. have meetings and discussions and then take a vote.

    Unfortunately, when there are substantial issues to be voted upon, it is usually at the Council, whom the president, HRH The Sultan of Pahang, is the president and is present. If he of anyone of his ‘people’ takes a position, how many of us within the council will dare to oppose? The most we could do is abstain.

    nick, I can tell you for a fact that race for selection is never a policy in the 8 years I served in Malaysian football.

    The real problem is impatience. Going pro when as a society we were not ready yet and the inability to forget the past and have patience towards building for the future.

    Each time a new talent is found, too much lavish and praise is heaped on him to the extent that he fizzles out from the adulation and rewards.

    You must remember, these are young BOYS we are talking about and if we harbor any hope of them being Malaysia’s savior, leave them alone to develop at their own pace.

    The moral of the story is government should not interfere when systems are in place. We will get to where we all desire eventually but interference will only retard the progress.


  10. monsterball
    May 28, 2008 @ 06:08:28

    On this subject…..Doc knows best!
    Yes…I had few experiences with irresponsible doctors..with one..nearly killed my 8 months old baby…25 years ago.
    Saved by Assunta Hospital…I will not go into the details…but that doctor apologized. I could have him reported and he may have lost his medical license. I hope this subject includes…all sorts of medical practitioners…such as dentists and so call..animal doctors.
    I am quite sure…few dentists are bogus…not qualified people…and there are lots of animal doctors..that do not love animals at all….and you can sense ..the are not qualified too. All of them ..have their own private clinics… and operate alone.
    Mind you….animal doctors…are making good income….as it is not send your cats and dogs..rabbits and others…..for medical treatments…..sometimes….much more dearer than humans.
    Back to medical doctors…previously…for RM5 ..anyone can get a medical chit… skip work….and bosses cannot do anything about it.
    Yes…this is now…being monitored successfully…but do the government send check on every medical practitioners…whether they are legitimate people?
    You see…UMNO and BN guys..never work….until it becomes a big problem….then ..they find a weak solution…to let it happen..all over again and again.
    Finally…I sincerely know one doctor kills more than curing….and that is non other than Dr. Mahathir.


  11. monsterball
    May 28, 2008 @ 06:22:30

    By the way….Doc…the late legendary Country and Western singer…song writer…..Mr.Will Rogers said that the best doctors in the world…are animal doctors.
    All other doctors…have their patients …giving him/her some answering the doctors questions.
    Animal doctors…apply their expertise….with no help from the patent at all…and the owner is just guessing……with his/her opinions.


  12. Palmdoc
    May 28, 2008 @ 07:11:26

    Speaking of animal doctors being the “best doctors in the world” reminds me of one of my favorite Gary Larson cartoons of a chap studying Veterinary science reading the chapter on Horse ailments:

    Broken leg – shoot the horse
    Fever – shoot the horse
    Cough – shoot the horse
    etc (you get the drift)

    Just kidding 😉


  13. jeff
    May 28, 2008 @ 09:12:01

    You actually gave a very accurate example of doctor misbehaving….hahahahah.monsterball! i can not agree more.


  14. monsterball
    May 29, 2008 @ 07:19:25

    It is logical true too..Palmdoc.
    When one speaks of horses…one relate to so many Western cowboy movies…..and in those situations..riding a horse… barren land….and medical doctors are like looking for a gold mine…very rare…one needs to show some mercy…shoot the horse dead..if leg is broken….sick..but I never heard about a horse coughing!!
    Then…..move on to present time..there are “horse whisperers”..supposedly can talk to the horse…and these guys….can mend broken legs…to even have the horse win a race.
    How do I know?..from movies la…hahahahaha
    55 years ago…there were talking horse too!!
    Can give you tips..which horse cam win a race.
    You guess it right!!…..from movies too…….hahahahaha
    Doc loves to play classical music on a piano….so smooth and I can sleep…after listening to it.
    He should take up horse an old horse….spend some money..on cowboy outfits…and ride one…while he is young and able. I think it is a nice feeling….with all the noble sensations in the body….all shook up….hahahahaha
    After all…your brother in same trade…Mahathir loves horse riding…and he claims to cure all. too….so follow and ..try it la….hahahahahaha
    Palmdoc…sounds like a palm reading…fortune teller.. man..or one ..specialized in curing sick palms…..very rare kind of doctor indeed…..hahahahaha
    So tose with itchfy hands…see palmdoc!!


  15. monsterball
    May 29, 2008 @ 16:49:59

    Now lets talk medical attention and government responsibilities.
    I sincerely hope the government will look into animal doctors…plenty..I suspect are bogus.
    One at Subang Jaya….SS15/4E….been is one.. for ages…operating alone…most of te time…with no assistants.. ..and he has killed few of my dogs!!
    What can I do…except find new one..which I did.
    I am not accusing him…being a bogus one….but nice if government can check all details from their files..and not what certificates given to them…as the doctor.
    Okay…having said that..let us Malaysians.not suspect the government is taking bogus animal doctors…a non issue….just because Islam may not like dogs.
    Dogs to the man’s best friend. Like it or not…everyone love a dog…except Muslims.
    Yet….more and more practical and open minded Muslims..have taken a liking for dogs openly.
    Ever since I can recollect…so many ..Muslim police inspectors love they have seen…how police dogs sniffed out drugs…saving millions of drug addicts..all over the world.
    Right now… in Malaysia…..two Canadian dogs are celebrities …showing their great skills in sniffing drugs from airports…store houses..and even pirated DVDs!!
    I recalled..pirators have put out a reward to kill the dogs….hahahahahaha
    So regardless…UMNO likes it or not…get the Min.Of Health…to put out a complete survey…to every corner of our compile a complete list of veterinary surgeons….are they real or false ones. There must be a Vet. Asso. too. So get to work..or be prepared to get more Malaysians them out….completely.
    So said shall it be written…so shall it be done………..hahahahahaha


  16. monsterball
    May 29, 2008 @ 16:51:19

    When I am more inspired…and at the right time and post…..I will talk about our famous meat….Chicken.


  17. Dr Hsu
    May 29, 2008 @ 20:58:35

    ya, for the 2 dogs Flo and Lucky, I have long ago written a few posts on them.

    try here:

    Disc pirates and the dogs, try here:


  18. monsterball
    May 29, 2008 @ 21:35:26

    wa Doc!
    You do cover lot of different subjects.
    Yes….I remember now….you did wrote about Flo & Lucky.
    How about a post on Chicken??


  19. Dr Hsu
    May 30, 2008 @ 09:58:33

    Monsterball, I did in a way talk about chicken. The H5N1 Bird Flu. I think I have posted on precautions to take to prevent Bird Flu,and one on Bird Flu itself.

    The link: H5N1, a potential pandemic threat.

    Perhaps I should take your advice and post one just on chicken…


  20. monsterball
    May 30, 2008 @ 18:22:28

    Start that…and I wil get inspired!!


  21. pohwatchdog
    May 30, 2008 @ 21:20:18

    Having serving in rural area in the 1980’s especially Kapit on my tour of duty. I will salute and thanks those young and dedicated doctors in Kapit Hospital. While serving for nearly 5 years there, the Medical assistants and doctors have treated me well with my ocassion diarrhoea problems.

    Give them the chance to improve their capabilities and they will out to be the best.

    Anyway meritocracy and excellence can be enhance with the opportunities given to the young doctors or Medical Assistant. Even I am very grateful to my superiors who have given me the opportunities to learn and relearn. Life is a lifelong learning process.

    We need to be Malaysian at heart and a Malaysian nationalist. We mst not looked at the colour who we are but what we are to contribute to the betterment of Malaysians.


  22. monsterball
    May 30, 2008 @ 23:06:12

    I repeat….pohwatchdog…do you like …”hoilam kai fun”……or simple mean….hylam chicken rice??


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: