Will NEM go the way of the NEP?

For  any economic model to succeed, there must be meritocracy, fair competition, proper use of resources, adequate training (which must be of certain high standard) of its populace, good planning and execution of govenrment policies, transparency and accountability… There must also be a social safe netting in place to help the poorer sections of the people, regardless of race.

I have stated many times in this blog that the only way for the country to progress is to adopt an economic model that has all the characteristics of what is mentioned above.

Today, PM unveiled a New Economic Model very similar to the economic model that was mentioned above.

The three principles of this model are:

1. aiming to be a high income nation by 2020, with per capita income  rising from US7000 to US 15000.

2. Sustainability

3. Inclusiveness.

These 3 principles, if can be implemented fairly, would be good for the country. There are however a few nagging questions in my mind:

1. To achieve US 15000 per capita, we need a growth rate of slightly more than 7% per annum. It will not be an easy task, looking at the economy from 1997 till now. Having said that, even if we can achieve a per capita income of US 12000 , it would be an achievement in my mind, since to do that we need a consistent 6% growth, which is not easy to achieve, so the next question is:

2.  Do we have enough skilled manpower and human resources to do so? are we innovative enough? or productive enough?

3. Looking at out school system and the products of our tertiary education at the moment, we need to have a major overhaul of the whole education system to produce thinking and innovative skill work force, and that itself will takes years to be transform.

4. As the PM himself has said, we need a blueprint for this model to succeed. A lot will depend on the blue print that will be drawn up later.

5. How will this blueprint be translated to action? This depends mainly on the civil service, and with the ascendancy of the right wing politics that is in direct resistance to this New Economic Model, will the civil service give full cooperation and will the implementation be skewed again, like the NEP before?

6. The affirmative action in this NEM will be based on the following principles, according to the PM:

– it must be market friendly,

– it must be merit based,

– it must be transparent and

– it must be needs based.

I welcome these principles which in fact have always been what the civil society is pushing for. But with the right wing resistance within the party , how is this going to be put into practiced is a big question mark.

On the whole , what is promulgated should be  welcomed if it can be translated into a real economic policy that transcends racial consideration. Whether this can be achieved remains to be seen.

Even the NEP, when it was first being introduced in the 70s, was supposed to be good  and its aim of eradication of poverty irrespective of race was noble; but somewhere along the way, it was hijacked to benefits certain cronies and  rent seekers, and resulted in a culture of patronage and corruption. Will history repeat itself? For the sake of Malaysia’s  future, I really hope not!

FOr the full text of the report, click here: The New Economic Model


How to mend a broken mirror?

The campaign for the presidency of the second biggest component party is in the last leg.

There are 3 candidates:

1. One candidate says: I can unite the party

2. Another candidate says: I come back to save the party

3. The incumbent says: I can reform the party

But in politics, do not believe what is said. It is just euphmism, as I have mentioned in my post: Euphemism for the political novice. Just ot refresh some of the euphmism posted in that post:

  • you want to chop someone — reshuffle
  • you are forced to patch up with your enemy — unity plan.
  • Patch up with an enemy with great influence – Greater Unity plan.
  • talking about your enemy — he is still my friend
  • you want to stab him at the back — he is still my friend but principle more important than friendship

When someone says that ” I can unite the party”, it simply means that once he wins, he will chop off all those who oppose him.

When someone says” Only I can save the party”, it means that he is going to go back to the past, and repeat his mediocre performance.

Polls outside the party has shown that most people wanted the third to win, at least to see whether he can really reform.. But unfortunately those outside who were polled cannot vote , and this party has a tradition of not listening to the very group of people outside that it claims to represent. So if the community wants the third to win, the delegates will probably do the opposite.

Whoever wins, it would be an uphill task to win their traditional seats in the next GE, and it would be almost impossible to unite the party.

I can’t help but think of the Bee Gee’s song “How to mend a broken Heart”? Only this time it is not broken heart but broken mirror. It is impossible to make a broken mirror whole again, even if they use lots and lots of cellophane tapes or handiplast.

The World is in your Hand

(The World is in your hand)

Today is Earth Day, and most newspapers carry the news that People around the world will be switching off for an hour. Malaysians are asked to switched off at 8.30pm.

I am posting an old article of mine , written one year ago. I am not rewriting it as it is still relevant and the points which I want to stress are still the same.

We cannot go on our wasteful way. I am an admirer of Thomas Friedman, who latest book : “Hot, Flat and Crowded” should be read by anyone interested in going green. (especially the North Americans)

This is it:

Today, WWF is asking all people to switch off all electrical appliances for one hour between 8.30pmand 9.30pm.

This is  a laudable effort. IT is symbolic. By switching off one hour, we may not achieve much saving of electricity, but it is a reminder to all of us, the inhabitants of this planet, that we cannot keep on doing what we have been doing.

Homosapiens , especially the North Americans, have been adopting a very wasteful lifestyle. It is time that we take stock of the depleting resources of Mother Earth and be more responsible in our utilisation of commodities and other goods.

Once it was said that planet Earth could only sustain the lives of 6 billion people. We have already hit that target. Thanks to modern technology, we have been able to produce higher yielding crops ;  modern farming technique have helped us produce enough proteins to feed the growing population. The demand on food especially on meat will be disproportionally high in the coming decades, as reater proportion of  people become more affluent, especially in CHina and INdia , and these people would adopt a lifestyle that consumes more protein than before.

Water shortage will be a big problem if conservation is not practised. Clean water, perhaps more than modern medical treatment,  is said to be the single most important factor to raise the average life expectancy of the people. In the early 1800s, life expectancy was around  38. My favourite pianist, Chopin died before 40, otherwise we would have more etudes , preludes and nocturnes from him.

In the early 1900s, life expectancy was around the late 40s. Now in Japan, it is around 80. In Malaysia, it is around the high 70s, and rising.

Ultimately, there will come a day when the Earth’s support system simply cannot support the number of people. What will happen then? Famine, wars, epidemics will occur .

All of us have a duty to remind ourselves and our next generation that we must change our lifestyle.

This switching off for an hour is  good to impart on the younger mindsets the importance of conservation and preservation.

It will be good for those with young children at home to drive the message across why it is important to conserve energy, water and all things around our house including toys, gadgets, furnitures, papers and so on. . Teach them not to be wasteful. Teach them to treasure things at home.

When the nation plunges into darkness tonight, it will be the best time to imprint on the young minds the importance of ” reduce, re-use, recycle”. On top of  these 3 Rs , i will  add a 4th R ”regenerate”- we should perhaps start to plant some fruits and vegetables in our garden for those of us living in landed property. All these will help to buy us time, perhaps with more time, we can move up to higher technological levels and delay the onset of the time when Earth can no longer support the increasing population.

By election in Selangor

Both coalitions have been expecting an by election in Ulu Selangor the past few months since the incumbent MP was very sick. He died last night paving the way for another by election 2 years after the 308 tsunami.

This by election will be keenly watched as this is a mixed seats with a significant Indian presence. While Malay makes up of 53.9%, slightly more than half, the Indians (with  19%) and the Chinese ( 26.7%) make up almost the other half.

(map courtesy of Malaysian Insider)

While in 308, the seat was won by PR (with a wafer thin margin) because of the swing in the Indians votes, this time around, how the Indians will vote will again decide who win the seats.

The Malays are split with a probable advantage to UMNO now, while more Chinese than before will be voting the opposition. So the Indian votes will be crucial.

All eyes of the nation will be on this.

Perhaps those readers who stay around Serandah, KKB can enlighten us on this.

A doctor too many II

Malaysia, a country with about 26 million populations, boosts of 24 medical schools now.

Just a few years ago, the number was less than 10. In fact, when my eldest son entered medical school 10 years back, i could count medical schools with my fingers. Now even with my toes and my fingers, I could not do so. Some of the names are so new that I, as a doctor, do not even know they exist until I did some research for this article.

The list is below:

Public universities:

• University of Malaya, Faculty of Medicine

•Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Faculty of Medicine

• Universiti Sains Malaysia, School of Medical Sciences

• Universiti Putra Malaysia, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

• Universiti Malaysia Sabah, School of Medicine

• Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

• International Islamic University Malaysia, Kulliyyah of Medicine

• Universiti Teknologi MARA, Faculty of Medicine

• Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences

• Universiti Darul Iman,Faculty of Medicine

Private Universities and Colleges’

• UCSI University, Faculty of Medical Sciences – School of Medicine

• Monash University Malaysia, School of Medicine and Health Sciences

• International Medical University, Faculty of Medicine

• AIMST University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

• Allianze College Of Medical Sciences, Faculty Of Medicine

• Management and Science University, Faculty of Medicine

• Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine

• Royal College of Medicine Perak, School of Medicine

• Melaka Manipal Medical College, School of Medicine

• Penang Medical College, School of Medicine

• MAHSA University College, Faculty Of Medicine

• Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia ( NuMED)

• Taylor’s University College, School of Medicine


These are the medical schools in Malaysia. These schools when fully functional will produce about 4000 doctors a year. There will be thousands more Malaysian doctors being produced overseas, since many Malaysians are studying medicine in UK, Australia, New Zealand, India, Indonesia, Russia, Taiwan and even Ukraine.

The sudden mushrooming of medical schools are apparently due to shortages of doctors in the public sectors. This is because most doctors in government service resign after their compulsory services and opt for the supposedly greener pasture in the private sector.

In most other countries, the logical thing to do to counter this brain drain of doctors to private sector is to find out why doctors are resigning from government service and then try to address the woes of the doctors , and hopefully keep them in service. I call this common logic.

The Malaysian solution , like in many other instances, does not take common logic into account but rather uses the sledgehammer approach. After all, we do have Malaysian logic which is different from common logic practiced in most other countries. For example, if we cannot have spacecraft of our own, we can still produce Astronauts by sending Malaysians into space hitchhiking on other countries’ spacecraft.

In most other countries, the common logic will be to try to improve the working conditions in public sector so that doctors will stay back. But Malaysian logic is sledgehammer logic, and is very different.

If the doctors do not want to stay in government service, then Malaysia shall flood the market with doctors, so goes the Malaysian logic. Never mind that setting up of medical schools and training doctors are expensive businesses. We have petroleum and huge amount of development funds. By building more buildings and buying expensive medical equipment to equip these medical schools, billions will have to be spent and of course, in the Malaysian context, everyone will be happy, down from the planners, the contractors, the parents and all others involved, since the perception is that projects in Malaysia inevitably will have some leakages and wastages and many people are very happy with these leakages and wastages. Never mind that we may have the hardware but we may not have enough qualified people to man these medical schools.

The Malaysian logic seems to be like this: If enough doctors are produced, the market will be saturated with doctors and thus doctors will have no where to go but to stay put in government service.

Well, the people may be clapping hands and rejoicing that with more doctors than are needed, medical costs will come down.

Unfortunately, things do not function like this in medical education. Experience in some countries tells us that some doctors in private practice , when faced with too few patients will charge higher and do more investigations, some of which may not be needed, so instead of medical cost going down , it will go up.

In any advanced nation, the setting of a medical school requires a lot of planning and not on ad hoc basis. Planning that must include where to source for experienced and qualified teachers, where to build new or source for existing teaching hospitals which are big enough for the placement of these medical students to do training. Planning such as facilities, equipments, classrooms, curriculum. In the west, it takes many years of planning for a medical school to be set up; whereas in Malaysia, we see more than 10 in the last 5 years.

In Malaysia, due to the sudden ‘exponential’ increase in medical schools, we have medical schools pinching staff from each other, even the mediocre ones, and with that number of qualified teachers only, it is unavoidable that many teachers may not have the experience and qualification to be medical lecturers.

The early birds (medical schools) are more fortunate. Their students are placed in bigger hospitals like the General Hospitals of Kuala Lumpur or Penang. Now, some of the medical schools just opened have to send their students to smaller district hospitals to do their training. The smaller hospitals are often manned by more junior doctors who are not qualified to be medical teachers, and these hospitals have only very basic facilities and equipment.

This is just the beginning of the problems. For a doctor, graduating from a medical school is the beginning of a life long journey, and the basic medical degree is more like a license to start to really learn how to manage and treat patients.

The most important year after a doctor graduated is the houseman-ship. If a doctor does not have proper houseman training, then he would face a lot of problems later on. He or she may know all the medical knowledge in the world (just for argument sake only since knowledge of medicine is so vast that no one can know everything), but without the proper houseman training, he or she will not get the hand-on experience so crucial and important to doctors. A doctor without proper houseman training is not unlike a person, who has played only racing in the arcade games, suddenly being asked to race in a real life race. He would not have the hands on experience to do well. A doctor without proper houseman training would be like a person given a license to kill and a disaster waiting to happen.

Now, with 4000 doctors being produced in a year, where do we find so many houseman positions for these young doctors? Even now, with some of the medical schools just starting and not yet producing doctors, and the number of doctors being produced is much less than the 4000 , the wards in some of the bigger hospitals are filled with so many housemen that in some wards, there are not enough patients for these housemen to learn management skills. About a year back, I was told, in HKL some of the units have more than 20 housemen. Recently one doctor told me that in some units, it may have even more than that. I was aghast. Since with that many housemen in a single unit, and so few senior officers to guide them and so few patients for them to learn from, how are they going to learn the skill of doctoring?

When there is not enough training for these housemen, what do you think our policy planners do? In the typical Malaysian style, they increase the length of houseman-ship from a year to 2, hoping that the longer time will help to give better exposure to these doctors. Compared to Australia, New Zealand, and United Kingdom, houseman-ship is still one year only. By increasing the length of the houseman-ship, it is a tacit admission that our one year houseman training is not as good as the above mentioned countries. A poorly trained houseman will become a not so good medical officer, and since now most of the specialists are trained internally, it will be a matter of time that future specialists may not be as well trained as present.

Many parents do not know about the actual situation and still encourage their children to take up medicine. They are not told of the actual situation. The day will come when there are simply so many doctors that none are adequately trained. There will come a day when a doctor graduating from a medical school cannot even be placed in a houseman position.

That day is actually very near.

(This article was also published in Malaysian Insider )

Recommended readings:

For those interested in this topic, read also an article in medical tribune: Falling Healthcare Standard, a matter of grave concern here

my earlier article : a doctor too many I

A Master mind

Indications are the Old Ong is going to triumph over the Top Ong and DvD Chai in the war of the three factions.

Who would have thought that behind the Bruto is the Old Ong; to be frank,  I have suspected that they were the third force, when I wrote the article ” a master move” where with less than a 100 votes in control, the third force played havoc over Top Ong and Dvd Chai, and by voting one way for this resolution and another for that, these third force people actually did the unthinkable, removing the top 2 in one move. Unfortunately, the Top Ong,  after a holiday, came back and teamed up with Dvd Chai and proposed the Unity plan. And the third force had not enough CC in their bag to resign and force an election.

So DVD Chai became pivotal. Dvd Chai thought that by teaming with Bruto, he would be invincible.

I see that Dvd Chai was played out again by the forces of Bruto. By agreeing to team up with Bruto and asked his men to resigned from CC, and making way for an election, he would not have thought that the Old Ong was behind  Bruto and that is exactly what happened.

A real brillaint move, and even Tsu Szu would have approved of this.

However, no matter how much OLd Ong  will win, everyone in this party is a loser since people have seen through what sort of leaders these are and in the next General  election, they could not possibly survive in  mixed seats. I suspect the seats this party won would even be smaller , since 90% of their trqaditional supporters would have left them , after seeing in disgust what kind of people these are. On top of that, there will be a lot of leg pulling since in this type of fight, once fought, there cracks will always be there.

But  out of these 3 factions, the people on the ground outside of the party would  root for the Top Ong, since he was seen to be able to stand up to the BIg Brother. Of course, perception is one thing, reality is another, whether that is true or not , we would not know.

His only chance now is to team up with Dvd Chai again. And do not discount that, since in this party, the impossible can be possible and the possible can become the impossible. Maybe this time, they would come out with a “Greater Unity Plan”, who knows?

A great story – ‘just stay’

There is just too much of politicking out there. SO today i will post instead a more spiritual one, one which was emailed to me by our reader ‘monk’, and one which i thought i have come across somewhere in the internet. Anyhow, it is a very moving story and if we can do wahtever little to help , why not?

Just Stay

A nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside of an old man.

“Your son is here,” she said to the old man.

She had to repeat the words several times before the patient’s eyes opened.

Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed Marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand. The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man’s limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement.

The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit beside the bed.All through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly lightedward, holding the old man’s hand and offering him words of love and strength. Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile.

He refused. Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the Marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital – the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients.

Now and then she heard him say a few gentle words. The dying man said nothing, only held tightly to his son all through the night.

Along towards dawn, the old man died. The Marine released the now lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he waited.

Finally, she returned. She started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her.

“Who was that man?” he asked.

The nurse was startled, “He was your father,” she answered.

“No, he wasn’t,” the Marine replied. “I never saw him before in my life.”

“Then why didn’t you say something when I took you to him?”

“I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew he needed his son, and his son just wasn’t here.

When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, knowing how much he needed me, I stayed.”

I came here tonight to find a Mr. William Grey.

His Son was Killed in Iraq today, and I was sent to inform him. What was this

Gentleman’s Name?

The Nurse with Tears in Her Eyes Answered,

Mr. William Grey………….

The next time someone needs you … just be there. Stay.





[Bavan KS Perumal]

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