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Why must the poor in Malaysia beg to save a life?

The systemic rot in our politics is to blame


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It is most heart-wrenching to witness yet another case of a poor family in Malaysia in a critical medical situation having to turn to the generosity of the public.

Why wasn’t our National Heart Institute able to get the necessary government funding to save the life of Eniyasri, an infant in need of urgent surgical intervention?

People in Malaysia are a generous lot who will never fail to rise to the occasion. In this case, RM90,000 was raised in less than 18 hours, thanks to yet another NGO’s effort.

However, questions need to be asked. Doesn’t this government have enough means to help deserving cases? Do the families of these patients have to go through the pain and agony of looking for funds to access desperately needed medical intervention?

If families of the sick give up hope, a life would be lost just because the hospital had put a ‘price tag’ on that life.

How will this be translated in the “Malaysia Madani” (Civil Malaysia) political climate, where care and compassion are being peddled?

Would slogans like “Segulai Sejalai” (Iban for Together With Each Other) mean anything to a wide segment of society when they have to beg for funds to save lives?

In the early post-Merdeka days, when the country was not so developed, the Ministry of Health ensured that the poor were given free medical and surgical attention, irrespective of costs. The Ministry of Welfare was also always there for the poor to turn to with dignity.

But after decades of progress and development, have the poor now finally ended up as beggars?

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Today, if you had the money and the right connections, you can get premium quality healthcare at your disposal. You could even be rushed to a private hospital that does the job done quickly – but at a huge cost. Or, if you belong to the political elite, you could even be flown across the oceans for the best treatment.

The systemic rot in our politics is to blame.

We must have the courage, the will and, above all, the sincerity to remedy this yoke that has been hung on the necks of a vast segment of society, ie the middle-income and low-income groups.

Our policymakers, elected representatives and ‘jaguh kampung’ (village champion) politicians are ever ready to sensationalise and to prioritise ridiculous and irrelevant issues like ‘Sharia-compliant’ uniforms for nurses.

Has anyone, now or in the past decades, ever shown care for and concern about how the poor have had to beg when faced with personal medical crises, without help from the government?

We pray that the present “unity government” deems the need to support the poor in their medical emergencies as an urgent national crisis. Hopefully, it will tackle this issue in the coming months.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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Andrew Pang
Andrew Pang
22 Jun 2023 10.43am

Dear Mr Lovrenciear,
TQ for another timely report. MY has a multitude of, multifactorial problems. Where should we start to pinpoint; is (was) there a root cause? You might agree with ‘how you do anything, is how you’ll do everything,’ and would predicate how the nation has been governed thus far. Inaccessible healthcare is an injustice, since ‘health is (certainly) wealth.’ Many people have to continue to work in order to make a living, just to survive. Notwithstanding this young child’s case, lifespan versus healthspan is a lamentable topic, plus with an ageing population on the horizon, Malaysians are on course a ‘slippery slope.’ ‘Prevention is better than cure (PIBTC),’ which I hope Aliran; CAP etc, do more to promote PIBTC.

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