PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) is calling on the health ministry to explain why the boards of visitors of public hospitals should be dominated by appointees of its minister.
MMA president Dr R Muruga Raj said giving the minister power to appoint 75% of board members would compromise its independence.
“We believe the main purpose of the visitors’ board is to improve the quality of services provided by the healthcare facility for the community.
“It should therefore be free of any minister’s direct appointments so as to be able to serve its purpose,” said Dr Muruga Raj.
He said board members play an important role in providing feedback to the management and bringing up issues relating to public healthcare faced by the public.
“There will be no check and balance if the majority of board members are appointed by the government,” he told FMT.
On Tuesday, FMT reported a health ministry directive that its minister, Dr Zaliha Mustafa, would be empowered to name 75% of the members to the visitors’ board at the 139 public hospitals, with the remaining seats to be occupied by independent members.
Board members are paid an allowance of RM100 each for up to six meetings annually. They will now serve for three years, up from two previously.
Former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said the situation was an improvement from when Barisan Nasional (BN) was in power.
He said before Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over the government in 2018, all board members were appointed by the government.
“Before PH took over, there were allegations from the ministry that some members had abused their positions. So, we decided in 2018 that 30% of the appointees must be independent members from the community and who know the sector well,” he told FMT.
He said board members did not receive any pecuniary gain from their appointment as they only received an allowance when attending meetings which they were involved in.
Lee said to prevent abuse of their position, board members are not allowed to intervene in matters concerning hospital administration.
“(Board members act) as liaison officers between the hospital and the public who have no direct access to raise matters with the administration.
“Some are known to help organise activities for the public good and also raise funds,” he said.