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Patriots group questions viability of veterans hospital, offers alternative

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Building medical units for armed forces veterans at existing government hospitals nationwide is a more viable option than having a hospital for the purpose in one particular location, Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan said today.

In a statement, the military veterans group president Mohamed Arshad Raji said this would enable aged veterans, some of whom may be physically disabled, to get the treatment they need at the respective states they reside in.

"While veterans generally welcome the construction of the hospital, we at Patriot wish to question the viability of the proposal and to offer a proposition that we think could better serve the veterans, minimising unnecessary administrative problems.

"Veterans all over the country, especially those of the lower ranks, will be disadvantaged to travel the distance for a medical treatment, due to age and possible physical disability. It would be rather foolish for a veteran, who had settled down in Johor, for instance, to travel to Ipoh for medical treatment. Likewise, it would be even worse for veterans from Sabah and Sarawak to travel to Ipoh for treatment," he said.

Mohamed Arshad was referring to a reported proposal by Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein (photo) in Sept last year, that a dedicated armed forces veterans hospital will be built on land belonging to the Malaysian Armed Forces in Gua Permai Camp in Tambun, Ipoh, at a cost of RM500 million.

The retired brigadier-general then proposed having dedicated veteran medical units at existing government hospitals nationwide instead.

This method had several advantages, he said.

"First, veterans do not have to travel long distances to visit the hospital (in Ipoh) since government hospitals are available in every state.

"Secondly, scarce medical resources could be shared between government hospitals and the veteran medical units. Third, government hospitals generally have better medical facilities and the staff are more experienced in handling patients.

"Patriot strongly feels that such medical services should also be extended to retired police personnel who served alongside the armed forces to defend the nation. They also deserve to be treated well and given treatment equal to their brethren in the armed forces."

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