CASSA CHIEF ASKS – CHEAPER HEPATITIS C MEDICATION – FANTASY, FICTION OR FACT?

‘This sad situation and narrative, more so when highly qualified and well respected medical professionals are leaving the hospitals in droves for lack of career development prospects and lack of recognition while others, of a certain race, religion and stock get rehired almost as soon as they retire?’

CHEAPER HEPATITIS C MEDICATION – FANTASY, FICTION OR FACT?

There seems to be a major debate going on in some circles over the recent announcement on cheaper Hepatitis C Medication.

I fail to understand the euphoria in the media and among, some consumer groups, over the Health Ministry’s plans to produce “affordable versions of Hepatitis C medication.”

Seriously, what is the mitigation really offered?

Most importantly, is what offered a realistic and silver bullet that is expected to save the life of over an alleged 500,000 patients in Malaysia because a cure was now within reach?

Only a gullible half past six – will expect that the Malaysian Ministry of Health will make the medicine available to patients within days or at most, a few weeks.

As such let us re-look at these statements with greater diligence!

We must remember that the treatment of Hepatitis C is often a combination of drugs and one of which is sofosbuvir.

Hence is the MOH going to provide a single drug or a combination of drugs as recommended by various international guidelines and WHO?

I also believe that the treatment depends on the Hepatitis C Virus Genotype and hence will this single drug that is being provided by MOH be appropriate to tackle the different genotypes?

That is not all.

Let us then look at the whole question of administration and management!

Is there liver specialist in all the 12 hospitals to appropriately manage and treat Hepatitis C?

As far as I know, and is common knowledge, that there is a severe shortage of liver specialists in the country!

So the pertinent question is who in these 12 hospitals will be treating Hepatitis C?

Will it be some under trained and ill exposed Para medical support staff or the hospital assistants?

Let us now look at another aspect!

Do the laboratories in these hospitals have adequate resources to monitor the treatment of Hepatitis C?

The plain truth is, it does not take a rocket scientist to invoke the Patent Act 1983 to produce a generic version of the drug, sofosbuvir.

It is also easy to come out with media statements that MOH plans to make the drug available in twelve public hospitals by year end.

But more importantly, will it actually happen or is this another press statement that will never be fulfilled?

And why do I say this?

Several years ago, I decided to cut out paper cuttings of media statements from MOH on “promises!”

We the Malaysian citizens should all do this in view the kind of statements and promises made by our politicians and to hold them accountable!

I remember there were over 124 statements made over time.

Do you know how many were actually delivered?

There were about a dozen.

The only politician who made 12 promises and delivered all of them was Dr Chua Soi Lek, who I still consider the best Health Minister Malaysia has ever seen and had!

For the record, I will continue this my media statements vigil of monitoring the statement on “affordable versions of Hepatitis C medication”  to see if indeed it materializes or it is just another statement thrown to the media on a dry day and to give perceptions?

Most importantly, let us not make promises we cannot keep or deliver!

And let us not get beyond ourselves by making statements that will never be delivered!

And why do I state this?

The truth is that this statement is coming at time when there are allegations and claims of “huge cuts in the health budget!”

That services have been seriously impacted!

That the availability of essential drugs challenged.

That the quality and professional services professed, exhibited and ultimately delivered, seriously embarrassing!

This sad situation and narrative, more so when highly qualified and well respected medical professionals are leaving the hospitals in droves for lack of career development prospects and lack of recognition while others, of a certain race, religion and stock get rehired almost as soon as they retire?

This is no ‘cerita dongeng!’

Even the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Zahid Hamidi alluded to this recently, followed by Deputy Health Minister Hilmi Yahaya!

I always wondered why the country seems to be financially tight when it comes to hiring such professionals but there seem to be no such deficiency of funds when appointing politicians and retired civil servants to various fanciful positions, including special envoys!

And when qualified and experienced public interest practitioners and advocates point these out in the public interest, vigilantes and cyber troopers attack us.

MALAYSIA ASEAN/APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST DR JACOB GEORGE SAYS PM NAJIB’S STAND ON SAFETY OF TAHFIZ RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS LAUDED!

The order and instruction has gone out!

It comes from Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Tun Abdul Razak himself!

The instructions to the relevant authorities in the country also clear!

1. Inspect the safety standard at all tahfiz religious schools in the country.

2. Schools found to be not abiding by the safety standard would be given time to implement the measures!

3. And failure to do so would result in their being ordered to close down.

And why was this instruction given out?

The premier could not comprehend what drove teenage boys to plan such an heinous crime which resulted in the deaths of 21 innocent students and two teachers.

It was so obvious to me listening in to him that he was truly heartbroken by the manner he spoke to the media!

He reiterated:

“What wrong did they commit? Don’t tell me a quarrel over futsal led to this crime. This is what has been haunting me”

The order is now out!

As Prime Minister Najib says it is a

1. A question of the safety of our children and we cannot compromise on the matter!

2. It involves the lives of our children and it is our responsibility.

3. It is not a question of the authority of the federal government or the state governments.

4. It is a question of safety, welfare and, more so, the lives of our children!

I thank both Prime Minister Najib, first lady Rosmah Mansor for the address and support to address this tragedy fast track!

Now since the instruction given – I pray the relevant agencies will fast track this matter before another disaster of horror!

I for one and CASSA will be monitoring and holding a brief on this matter certainly!

HARAPAN SAYA UNTUK BAJET 2018 – PRESIDEN CASSA!

HARAPAN SAYA UNTUK BAJET 2018 – PRESIDEN CASSA!

Kerajaan dicadang supaya menurunkan kadar Cukai Barangan dan Perkhidmatan (GST) yang dikenakan sebanyak 6.0 peratus sekarang kepada 3.0 peratus pada Bajet 2017.

Presiden Persatuan Pengguna Subang dan Shah Alam, Selangor (CASSA),Datuk Dr. Jacob George berkata, walaupun ia sukar dilakukan oleh kerajaan tetapi cadangan itu wajar dipertimbangkan dengan mengambil kira lonjakan kos hidup, peningkatan pengangguran dan penurunan perbelanjaan.

Malah, ada juga pekerja yang diberhentikan pekerjaan selepas majikan mahu mengecilkan saiz perniagaan atas alasan ketidaktentuan ekonomi atau alasan “restructuring?”

Jacob berkata, kenaikan kos hidup yang melambung sekarang dirasai oleh semua peringkat masyarakat dan pekerja, baik yang berpendapatan rendah, juga sederhana.

“Sama ada kerajaan sedar atau tidak, pasar-pasar raya, pusat beli-belah dan pasar malam semakin lenggang. Pengguna susah lagi untuk berbelanja kerana ikat perut.

“Ada ketua-ketua keluarga yang melakukan tiga pekerjaan untuk mengisi perut anak-anak, memastikan perbelanjaan rumah dan persekolahan tidak putus.

“Lantaran itu, saya cadangkan kerajaan kurangkan kadar GST kepada 3.0 peratus agar pengguna boleh ‘bernafas’,” katanya.

Tambahnya, semua pihak akui pelaksanaan GST memberi kesan ketara dalam kehidupan rakyat kerana harga barang makanan, khususnya naik, walaupun ia diperjelaskan oleh kerajaan.

Beliau berkata, masalah ini berlaku agensi-agensi penguatkuasaan kerajaan tidak melakukan pemantauan seperti ketika mula-mula GST dikuatkuasakan.

“Jika pemantauan dibuat tidaklah harga barangan yang sama di kedai A tidak sama di kedai B, C dan D.

George juga meminta Perdana Menteri mempertimbangkan untuk mengenakan sekatan kemasukan pekerja-pekerja asing di negara ini kerana kehadiran mereka telah menjejaskan mata pencarian penduduk tempatan.

Jelas beliau, penduduk tempatan sekarang sukar mendapat kerja kerana terpaksa bersaing walaupun dalam sektor-sektor yang tidak sepatutnya.

“Kalau di pasar raya siapa juruwang kalau bukan pekerja asing. Sehinggakan warga Indonesia boleh membuka kedai di Chow Kit dan di Brickfield pula dipenuhi dengan warga Bangladesh.

“Hinggakan di kedai-kedai runcit pun muka pendatang asing,” katanya yang tidak bersetuju dengan pandangan kerajaan bahawa rakyat Malaysia tidak mahu bekerja dalam sektor pekerjaan 3D ‘kotor, bahaya dan sukar’.

“Jika gaji yang dibayar setimpal siapa yang tidak mahu kerja dan sepatutnya kerajaan telus dengan mendedahkan sektor-sektor terlibat,” jelasnya.

Kata beliau, pengurangan penggantungan kerja terhadap buruh asing perlu ditangani segera kerana ia tidak selari dengan hasrat Malaysia untuk menjadi sebuah negara berpendapatan tinggi.

“Kita perlukan pekerja mahir di Malaysia, bukan lambakan warga-warga asing yang tidak terlatih saperti daripada Bangladesh yang bukan “pekerja” tapi “migrant ekonomi!”

MALAYSIA ASEAN/APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST SAYS TRUTH IS DEAD – WE ARE NOW DROWNED OUT BY HALF TRUTHS, LIES AND FAKE NEWS!

‘The truth – I do not think so because truth has been sacrificed on the altars of deep pockets, greed, and personal and private interests and profits!’

MALAYSIA ASEAN/APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST SAYS TRUTH IS DEAD – WE ARE NOW DROWNED OUT BY HALF TRUTHS, LIES AND FAKE NEWS!

Recently, Jane Pauley asked Hillary Clinton a simple question during a sit-down on CBS’ “Sunday Morning”: Were there mistakes she made that led to her loss in the 2016 presidential race?

Hillary’s response was telling.

“I think the — the most important of the mistakes I made was using personal email,” she acknowledged.

“I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, that was my responsibility.
It was presented in such a really negative way, and I never could get out from under it.

And it never stopped.”

Those who brought me up from the late 50’s in Sungei Petani, Kedah were very good and honest people!

They instilled in me from a young age that always say the truth!
It sets you free!

It is always better to tell the truth and shame the devil!

This same concept holds true in journalism today and writers in online media!

Of course, the ‘devil’ these days perhaps, that person (s) who can by seconds make certain you will never have any financial, position, honorific or other worries – period and all that you need to do is compromise, spin, create a doubt, write an alternate narrative and at best get so many versions out there that the truth gets lost in the process?

But for me at the twilight of this journey we call life, I believe that in order for a journalist and anyone else that includes me as opinion shapers, and I am that, having done so for the last 40 years of my life as Malaysia, ASEAN/APEC Lead Consumerist to gain respect, credibility and trust from their audience, we must report the truth.

Certainly, there are ethical guidelines in place for journalists to follow to enable them to gain trust and respect from their audiences.

Like all professionals be they doctors, lawyers, engineers, journalists have their set of codes of ethics to follow.

And providing true information to the public is on the top of each of these lists.

These codes of ethics are a platform for journalists to go off of.
In order to be an ethical journalist, you must always focus on telling the truth.

But why Tell the Truth?

It is important for journalists to tell the truth because the public depends on them.

The public depends on journalist’s every day for information to update and enlighten them on what is going on in society, good, bad and ugly so that they can make informed decisions!

If the public cannot trust journalists to give them true news information, then who can they trust?

It is the duty of journalists to take the time to gather true information before they report on a story.

Once journalists start reporting on things that are not true, their credibility is lost.

But the truth these days where journalists can be bought as can their top editors and even media companies are beholden to political patronage/ownership anything is possible!

But that never gets off from the ethical principle these days lost that the duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.

Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty.

Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility.

Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.

CASSA’S 18 POINT ADVICE TO SCRIBES:

1. Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error.

2. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.

3. Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.

4. Identify sources whenever feasible. The readers/public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources’ reliability.

5. Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.

6. Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.

7. Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible. Label montages and photo illustrations.

8. Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events. If re-enactment is necessary to tell a story, label it.

9. Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story

10. Never plagiarize.

11. Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.

12. Examine their own cultural/religious values and avoid imposing those values on others.

13. Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.

14. Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.

15. Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.

16. Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.

17. Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.

18. Recognize a special obligation to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open and with accountability, transparency and with good governance as cornerstones!

Is it possible in 2017?

The truth – I do not think so because truth has been sacrificed on the altars of deep pockets, greed, and personal and private interests and profits!

MALAYSIAN ASEAN/APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST DR JACOB GEORGE ASKS – SAFETY SECURITY AND SCHOOLS – HAVE WE FAILED TO PROVIDE LEADERSHIP?

‘We as parents cannot forget, we have a responsibility, a duty of care and if we fail it, especially in many civilized, progressive jurisdictions, we will have action taken on us, by the state!

I have witnessed this in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK, Europe and the US!’

MALAYSIAN ASEAN/APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST DR JACOB GEORGE ASKS – SAFETY SECURITY AND SCHOOLS – HAVE WE FAILED TO PROVIDE LEADERSHIP?

I am a lawyer by profession!

I am involved in international crisis management strategies and as a keynote speaker who has participated in hundreds of national and international media events, in conferences and other meets in my tenure as the Founder/President of the Consumers Association of Subang & Shah Alam Selangor (CASSA) and lead Consumerist/Adviser in the ASEAN/APEC Sector, a crisis management consultant.

I am known for my integrity, hard work, no nonsense approach, developed a worldwide reputation in advocacy, human rights, for integrity, accountability, ethics in crisis management, planning and training by helping global brands, communities, NGOs, and governments prevent and manage a wide range of issues and crises.

And in all those events I was truly ashamed when questions were asked of controversies in my country or of failures, shortcomings, idiocy, incompetence, lack of integrity, or in upholding universal principals of good governance, on both minor and major public policy initiatives!

Why go so far – let’s address MH370 again!

You want the truth, answers, closure but did you get it?

Let me put it simply, if one is incompetent in one’s office on domestic tragedies and wrongs, or cover ups, the result at worst, is a slap on the wrist – how do you expect the same individuals to fulfill the aspirations of what is right and wrong, in the international arena?

For example why the eerie silence at the new killing fields and an illegal war in Yemen overshadowed by the Syrian conflict?

These political shenanigans love to be in the media limelight but do not realize by their mannerism, body language, and response they have just confirmed their incompetence!

That is the reality!

To show how large and deep the swamp is or the reservoir of stupidity, inaction, lack of apathy and incompetence, let me use as example, the tragedy of deaths in our Malaysian religious schools and the response from stakeholders who are expected in law and convention to act, but have they?

The list of tragedies I enclose herein is a litany of the outbreak of a disease called incompetence, inaction and lack of accountability!

If these statistics did not result in a comprehensive investigation and guidelines and protocols put through, under an oversight task force, I wonder what is.

And it is absolute madness, plain unadulterated lunacy for anyone to say that the federal government has no powers of oversight vis a vis safety, security and internal security of citizens!

Now let us look at the frequency of the incidents of these outrageous events!

2017
• Jan 13: A tahfiz student sustained injuries in a fire at the hostel of Pondok Nurul Iman in Kampung Tanjung Batu, Nenasi in Pekan, Pahang.

• Jan 16: The An-Nuur Islamic Education Centre, better known as Pondok an-Nuur in Pantai Sepat, Kuantan, Pahang that housed 113 students was razed to the ground.

• Feb 7: A total of 73 female religious school students in Maran, Pahang were left with just the clothes on their backs when a fire destroyed their hostel. This was the second incident after the first in 2006, which also razed the students’ hostel.

• Feb 28: Pondok Al-Baghdadi in Tumpat, Kelantan that accommodated 100 students 15 and 30 years old, was destroyed in a fire. No casualties were reported.

• April 17: Ten residential buildings of Pondok Seri Permai in Pasir Puteh, Kelantan were destroyed in a fire, incurring losses estimated at RM161,000.

• April 30: Thirty students of Mahaad Tahfiz Al-Quran Al-Ismailiyah Mukim Lalang, Banggol Chicha, Pasir Mas, Kelantan saw their hostel reduced to ashes in a blaze.

• July 3: The store room of the Al-Islah residential religious school in Teluk Intan, Perak, which accomodated 68 students, was destroyed in a fire.

• July 4: The Addiniah Al-Latifiah residential religious school in Pengkalan Hulu, Perak, which had 66 students, was destroyed in a fire.

• July 30: Two hostel blocks of Maahad Tahfiz Al-Barakah in Sepang, Selangor which housed 100 male students were razed in a fire.

• Sept 14: A total of 22 students and two teachers were killed in a fire at the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah in the federal capital at 5.15am.
2016

• Jan 18: The two-storey building which housed 30 students of the Al-Redzuan residential religious school in Kampung Dato Ahmad Razali, Dengkil, Selangor was razed in a fire.

• March 7: A total of 60 students of Darul Itqan Al-Muhammadi residential religious school in Kampung Batu 40, Sabak Bernam, Selangor lost their hostel to a fire.

• March 3: The hostel of Maahad Tahfiz at-Tijarah at Jalan Bukit Idaman 8, Bukit Idaman in Selayang, Selangor was among the premises destroyed in a fire.

• May 11: Madrasah Tahfiz Al-Quran Raudhatul Ulum, Bagan Selat, in Butterworth, Penang was destroyed in a fire. No casualties were reported.

• June 18: The hostel of Madrasah Diniah Bakriah Pondok Pasir Tumboh, which housed more than 50 students was razed in a fire. No casualties were reported.

• Sept 22: Maahad Tahfiz Daril Naim in Pangkal Kala, Melor, Kota Bharu in Kelantan was razed in a fire. According to the Kelantan Fire and Rescue Department, this was its second fire-related incident. The first was on July 2016.

2015
• May 6: The premises that housed the essential items of the students of Ribat Assyafie residential school in Taman Murni Perdana, Dungun, Terengganu was destroyed in a fire.

• May 13: The hostel of Tahfiz Khairul Kalam in Jalan Kebun, Shah Alam, Selangor that had 26 students, was destroyed in a fire.

• July 29: Three students of Raudhatut Tahfiz residential religious school in Km2, Jalan Gunung Jerai in Guar Cempedak, Kedah suffered burns when a fire broke out at their hostel.

• Aug 28: The hostel of Madrasah Tahfiz Al-Zahra in Kampung Ladang, Gelang Patah in Johor Baharu, Johor was razed in fire about 6am.
• Oct 21: A fire destroyed 70% of the Al Ummi religious school in Labuan. There were no casualties.

2014

• Feb 14: Seventeen students of Maahad Tahfiz Muhammadiah, Bukit Rangin in Kuantan, were left without their two-storey school because of a blaze.

2013

• June 15: A student of Maahad Tahfiz Al-Barakah (Mantab), Kampung Masjid, Tikam Batu, near Sungai Petani, Kedah was found burnt to death, and two others injured when a fire destroyed their hostel.

• July 4: A total of 81 students of the Kunak religious school in Sabah lost their belongings when their temporary hostel for male students was destroyed in a blaze.

2012

• Sept 9: The second floor of the Assyifa residential religious school in Kampung Kolam, Kuala Ibai in Terengganu, that housed 25 students, was destroyed in a fire while the students performed Zohor prayers at a nearby surau.

• Jan 25: A hostel for male students at the Sekolah Menengah Agama Nadzah, Bukit Besar in Yan, Kedah was destroyed in a fire believed to have been caused by a short circuit. Fire had also broke out in 1996 and 2005 at the same school.

2011

• Jan 16: The top floor of the two-storey Maahad Qiraat Al-Azhar Amal Aimy Zdalifah at Km3, Jalan Sungai Korok, Sultan Abdul Halim Highway in Alor Setar, Kedah was destroyed in a fire at about 10.50am.

2010
• Jan 22: Sekolah Pondok Lubuk Tapah, Kelantan’s oldest religious and educational centre was destroyed in a fire.

• July 25: An eight-year-old student of a private religious school in Hulu Langat, Selangor was burnt to death in a 1.30am fire.
2009

• Jan 1: A fire which broke out at Sekolah Madrasah Darul Hikmah in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah left damage estimated at about RM200,000. However, no casualties were reported.

2007

• Aug 7: Twelve students of Sekolah Menengah Agama Darul Makmur in Pekan, Pahang, were unable to sit for an examination after their school building was destroyed in a fire.

• Sept 22: A fire destroyed Sekolah Pondok Bandar Hilir in Teloi, Sik, Kedah, However, there were no casualties as the incident occurred during a school holiday.

• Oct 22: A hostel block which housed 96 students of Sekolah Nurul Hidayah Al-Quran Maahad Tahfiz Pasir Puteh, Kelantan was destroyed in a fire.

After the last tragedy barely 24 hrs ago, that took the lives of 22 children, 2 teachers and where 11 are still seeking treatment, I am asking what is next?

Is it business as usual?

A mother has gone on record saying she does not want any of her children to die a martyr.

She wants them to grow up and have full and happy lives, and for them to be able to contribute to society in any way that is fitting for them.

She wants to spend time with them, and enjoy their company and love.

However, it is beyond words, intelligence and a sense of responsibility and accountability to hear Tahfiz Darul Quran Iftifaqiyyah school Principal Muhammad Zahid Mahmud say that we should ‘all assume that the students who perished in the early morning blaze yesterday died as martyrs.’

He said that ‘these children were willing to live separately from their parents and family just so that they could gain an education and better understanding of the religion. And so, god willing, they are all going to heaven.’

The horror and reality that faced firefighters was finding 22 students ranging from the ages seven to 17 dead along with two teachers, their bodies piled up in the corners of the room near the windows.

Legally, the school was operating illegally failing all administrative and local council protocols!

But, ironically to the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government, Minister Noh Omar, who is reported to have stated that no action would be taken against the school because they had already suffered so much with the fire and the deaths.

Are these operators above the law, I ask?

Can you understand that logic and interpretation, from whatever jurisdiction in the global village you come from?

This is a minister speaking!

Initially, before Noh made his statement, my dear friend, Kuala Lumpur, police chief Amar Singh said that the police would open investigations and probe the school for its blatant disregard of the law.

But will the minister’s word trumps his now (Pray Not!) or will public interest now pressure that chargers be initiated under Malaysian Penal Code – Murder (S300), Culpable homicide (S299), or Causing death by negligence (304A)?

Deputy Prime Minister, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had expressed concern over safety issues involving these schools.

But concern must interpret as action and punishing those behind these fatalities, in the public interest!

There have been enough photo shoots, political statements and media circus!

As for parents being distraught and upset are understandable but they must act to set a standard and example that this does not repeat!

Parents must be more responsible and participate in all matters pertaining to the lives of the children, not just breeding!

You cannot outsource this!

We as parents cannot forget we have a responsibility, a duty of care and if we fail it, in many civilized, progressive jurisdictions we will have action taken on us by the state!

Even for sending your children to a school without first checking if all the necessary safety rules have been complied with.
I take leave of this matter till the next fire incident and its fatalities!

I am just lost for words!