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Penang hospital: Who is lying?

 | July 25, 2012

To counter Penang BN state chairman Teng Chang Yeow's claim that Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had misled people on a hospital project, a DAP leader showed documents to prove otherwise.

PETALING JAYA: A DAP Penang state executive council member has rebutted claims by Penang Barisan Nasional that the Pakatan Rakyat-led state government was lying over the issue of a private hospital project at Jalan Zainal Abidin, Taman Manggis, Penang.

In a press conference today in Penang, the State Environment, Health and Caring Society Welfare executive council chairman Phee Boon Poh said that Penang state BN chairman Teng Chang Yeow was “either lazy and did not do his homework or a liar”.

Responding to Teng’s own press conference a day earlier where he said that the Penang Economic Planning Unit (Upen) was notified of the approval for a licence for the hospital on June 5, 2012, Phee today produced a letter dated July 12 which apparently debunked Teng’s claim.

The letter, sent by Health Ministry’s director-general Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman, to the hospital – Victoria International Medical Centre Sdn Bhd (VIMC) – had stated that the ministry had no objections [tiada halangan] on the proposal to set up the hospital.

“The letter stated clearly that there were no objections; it was not an approval. How could Teng assume that an approval was given on June 5?” asked Phee, who is Sungai Puyu state assemblyman.

He added that the letter also stated that there were other further processes that the hospital needed to go through before a licence can be fully approved and issued.

On Teng’s claim that Health Ministry official, which he did not name, had sent him an SMS on July 21 confirming that a licence for a private hospital by the company had already been approved, Phee said this was “proof of a plot”.

“According to Teng, someone from the Health Ministry had SMSed him. What does this prove? This proves that they are designing or schemening to run down the state government. Teng does not hold any position in the state government, how could he receive such information? This SMS just confirms the BN plot,” he said.

Said Phee: “It has been proven without a doubt that his facts are wrong. I wouldn’t want to call him stupid. I want to call him a liar. Perhaps he has to improve his scriptwriting [skills]. He is a senior politician and [being] so childish. Or he does not understand Bahasa Malaysia.”

‘Be a role model’

Phee also said that Teng’s claim that Upen was informed of the approval was also illogical as any decision related to licensing is conveyed to CKAPS (Private Medical Practice Control Section under under the Health Ministry).

He added that he was investigating this particular claim.

Phee had also pointed to another letter, dated May 2, in which the Health Ministry had sent a letter to inform the hospital that its application has been revoked as it had failed to adhere to certain sections in the the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998.

“In this letter, it is very clear that the Health Ministry had informed that if VIMC wishes to continue its application, VIMC needs to produce a new feasible study, a completed Form 1, a new floor plan, processing fees and other supporting documents.”

Advising Teng, Phee said, “Whether you are opposition or government, you must be a role model. [You must be] hardworking and diligent, tell only the truth and stand up for the people and not for personal gain. That is the rule of the game, there is no substitute. My role here is to tell the truth. So that God can bless everybody, except those liars.”

Yesterday, Teng accused Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng of twisting facts by claiming that Penang had been unable to secure a single operating licence for a new private hospital since Pakatan took over the state in 2008.

Teng alleged that the Health Ministry had issued five operating licences to new private hospital projects in the state since 2008, namely, one each in Kepala Batas, Bandar Baru Perda and Jawi, all on mainland Seberang Perai, and two in George Town, including a hospital-cum-hotel project in Jalan Zainal Abidin.

Responding to this particular claim, Phee said his state health director-general is still checking these facts for him.

Grave concern

Last weekend, Lim had claimed that the non-issuance of operating licence was of grave concern as Penang was determined to remain the country’s leader in health tourism.

He said it was worrying that Penang was not able to secure any hospital operating licence from the Health Ministry since 2008, as Penang was currently the leader for health tourism, contributing more than 60% of the country’s market share in this industry.

Lim also said that the state was prepared to return the RM10 million premium to Kuala Lumpur International Dental Corporation Sdn Bhd (KLIDCSB) for the failed hospital project in Jalan Zainal Abidin.

Lim claimed that a ministry letter on Oct 22, 2010 stated that KLIDCSB’s proposal to build a 150-bed hospital on the prime 0.45ha land could not be entertained.

The 30-storey building would comprise a 19-storey hotel, six-storey private hospital and a five-storey car park.

The reason given for not granting the licence was that the bed-to-resident ratio for multi-disciplinary private hospitals was already sufficient at 2:1000.

Lim said the corporation had repeatedly appealed for an operating licence since its initial application on Sept 6, 2010.

He claimed that the corporation had eventually indicated to the state government of its intention to withdraw its investment due to difficulties to obtain a licence.

Previously BN had claimed that the plot in Jalan Zainal Abidin was earmarked for a16-storey public housing project to cater for the needs of the lower income group when BN was in power.

BN had lambasted the state government for wanting to build the hospital instead of housing, urging the Pakatan government to reveal all documents to clear the air over the issue and explain the sale of the land.

Lim had reportedly said that the land had to be sold as the area was not big enough for a housing project and instead had earmarked a 2.8ha piece of land in Jalan SP Chelliah for an affordable housing project.

Also read:

BN: CM lied about hospital projects


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