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Prime Minister should table in
Parliament the report of Harvard University consultants to improve civil
service efficiency which seemed to be waste of public funds with the latest
shock revelation of unnecessary death of Yusnita Abas because Kepala Batas
Hospital ambulances ran out of petrol
(Parliament, Monday) : The answer by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Health Ministry, Datuk Lee Kah Choon during question time today that the government does not have statistics about the number of patients nationwide who died in ambulance on their way to hospital is the latest evidence not only of deteriorating medical and health services in the country, but of the larger issue of the macro problem of the worsening public delivery system despite all the promises of reform.
I find the indifference and insensitivity demonstrated by Lee’s answer most unacceptable as it was only on Friday that the country was shocked by the news report of the totally unnecessary death of Yusnita Abas, 31, wife of factory worker, Ghafur Mohd Ibrahim because the ambulances at Kepala Batas Hospital were “all out of petrol” and could not send her in time for emergency surgery at the Penang Hospital.
In the 50-year independent history of Malaysia, this is the first time a person had died because all the ambulances at a hospital had run out of petrol – tragic proof that public service delivery system and ethos have been getting from bad to worse. Such a shameful episode had not happened when the country achieved independence in 1957 and the ensuing 49 years. Why is it happening now?
Developed countries are aiming at ambulance emergency response time within eight minutes, but the Health Minister, Datuk Dr. Chua Soi Lek seemed quite happy with an ambulance response time of more than 30 minutes in his response to public criticisms over businesswoman Zara Davies Abdul Rahman’s traumatic experience in trying to get accident and emergency help from Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Klang to save an accident victim’s life near the Batu Tiga toll booth on Dec. 13 last year, but in vain.
When Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became the fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia some 40 months ago, he not only pledged a more efficient public service delivery system, warning civil servants not to indulge in the “pass-the-buck culture”, but commissioned experts from Harvard University to strengthen the public service delivery system, reduce bureaucracy and improve civil service efficiency.
The three-member Harvard University task force submitted its report and recommendations to the government in April last year – but it would appear that the Harvard University consultants were all a waste of time, effort and public funds when public service ethos and performance have reached such a low point that what had never happened in the nation’s half-a-century history can now happen – ambulances at a hospital running out of petrol causing an avoidable death!
How could all the ambulances at the hospital of the constituency of the Prime Minister “all run out of petrol”? Who must be held responsible? How many heads must roll? Will any head roll?
Let me repeat my call during my speech in Parliament on the Royal Address debate on Thursday – that the government make public the report of Harvard University consultants to improve civil service efficiency, reveal the costs and the identity of the Harvard University experts.
The report should be tabled in Parliament before the Ministers start their four-day winding-up of the debate on the Royal Address beginning next Tuesday so that MPs can have the time to study the report and raise pertinent issues during the winding-up.
Last month, the Prime Minister announced the establishment of a 23-member task force, named Pemudah, to facilitate the delivery system and enhance economic activity as well as a high-powered committee comprising senior government officers as the implementation arm of the task force.
Is this the outcome of the report a year ago of the Harvard University task force – to set up another task force a year later to find out ways to improve the delivery system? If so, what is the use of the commissioning the Harvard University task force?
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman