I refer to the Malaysiakini report Cabinet hits pause button on IJN sale.
I was taken aback when it was announced that the government gave the green light to Sime Darby to acquire a 51 percent stake in the Institut Jantung Negara (IJN).
It is one of the most unexpected and unwelcome move by the government, at least to those who know what it means.
What prompted the government to have agreed to the Sime Darby taking over IJN? Is it operating at a loss? Has it expanded to the extent that the government can’t provide anymore or is there an unrevealed agenda?
The agenda could be good or bad (if at all there is any) but the public has a right to know. What really worries the general public is that this heart specialist centre is the only one of it’s kind in Malaysia and one of the few in this region.
This means any patient with severe, complicated or critical heart-related illness will need to go to IJN. Of course, those who can afford it could go overseas for treatment.
Sime Darby is a private corporation. Any private corporation cannot deny that profit maximisation is one of its (if not the main) goals.
Certainly, if Sime Darby acquires IJN, from that moment onwards the directors and the shareholders of Sime Darby would expect the profits of IJN to be on the upward trend. The performance of the IJN would directly reflect upon its directors.
As far I can foresee, there are only three possible ways in which IJN could earn more profit in the future:
1. Charge the patients more (the patients would not welcome it)
2. Let the charges be the same but increase the number of patients (this would result in overcrowding and will give the medical team a tough time) or
3. Cut cost (this might result in inferior service or food).
All in all, none of these alternatives are going to benefit anyone.
Yes, Sime Darby, could allocate several millions to subsidise patients who are poor or could not afford the bill. The public would welcome this gesture by Sime Darby.
However, how many patients would benefit from this scheme actually? What are the criteria used to assess the eligibility of a patient to qualify for this subsidy?
Will the conditions for the subsidy be fixed or could they be altered to suit case by case? Well , I have put forward my sincere viewpoints. I now leave it to the related parties to give a thought of the issues raised if they in the future want to go ahead with this take-over.