Dec 20, 2008

Tun Mahathir Glad IJN Not Privatised

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he seldom opposed privatisation but the exception he made was Sime Darby’s proposal to buy over the National Heart Institute (IJN).

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 19 (Bernama) -- Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is glad the government has decided to defer the privatisation of the National Heart Institute (IJN).

The former prime minister said in the first place, he did not think the privatisation of the institute was a good idea since it "was a unique foundation" based on its good work todate.

"There has not been any complaint on the IJN. They have performed extremely well. Serving the rich and the poor. Everyone benefitted from IJN, including myself," he told reporters after receiving RM150,000 from the foreign ministry, on behalf of the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War which he chairs.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim presented the cheque to Dr Mahathir at the Al-Bukhary Foundation here Friday.

He said the government should only privatise anything it owned, only if there was a good reason "but otherwise, it is not healthy."

It was reported that Sime Darby had made a proposal to the government to acquire equity in IJN Holdings Sdn Bhd, the operator of IJN.

IJN is currently the leading medical heart centre in the region and is 99.99 per cent owned by the Finance Ministry.

However, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced Friday that the deal had been postponed until an indepth review was undertaken by the relevant ministries.

On another note, Dr Mahathir said he was unable to reveal the list of Umno candidates involved in money politics, due to lack of proof.

"I have to study the allegations. There is a lot of heresay. They (delegates) can give me names but no concrete details like where, how much and all. We need brave people to come forward and reveal. Some complain but they are not brave enough to reveal the culprits," he said.

Last month, Dr Mahathir, who is also former Umno president, had said he would reveal names of candidates involved in money politics in the run-up to the party election which is slated for March next year.

He said Umno, the backbone of the ruling Barisan Nasional, could come up with several committees or boards to curb money politics but it would be useless as there were no "brave witnesses willing to reveal details of the offence".

"We need to get the culprits and it should be without any reasonable doubt. We don't want an innocent party taking the blame," added Dr Mahathir.

On another topic, he said there were instances where the Bar Council had indirectly lobbied for certain people to be appointed judges.

"Now, they are asking that they pick the judges. That can't be because once those chosen by the Bar is made a judge, he or she would be directly indebted to the Bar Council and this may interfere in the disposal of justice," he said.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has called on the government not to hastily rush into allowing the private sector to acquire stakes in IJN.

In welcoming the announcement over the postponement of Sime Darby Bhd's proposed acquisition in IJN Holdings Sdn Bhd, the operator of IJN, MMA president Datuk Dr Khoo Kah Lin said the government should get feedback and views from the public and non-governmental organisations before making any decision.

"We are worried that when a private company takes over, the welfare of the poor will be ignored and they might not get health treatment at a lower rate.

"We are concerned because the bottom line in any commercial undertaking is to make profit as they are answerable to the shareholders...they cannot go and make a loss.

"IJN is the jewel for heart patients in this country...it is accessible to poor heart patients," he told Bernama.

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