The Kuala Lumpur General Hospital blackout on Wednesday raises doubt whether Tenaga Nasional could deliver on its promise to provide steady quality electricity supply but also highlights the urgent need for public watchdog committee on general standards and quality of all privatisation services


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Friday):
The Kuala Lumpur General Hospital power blackout on Wednesday has raised doubts about the ability of Tenaga Nasional to deliver on its promise to provide steady, uninterrupted quality electricity supply as well highlighted the urgent need for a public watchdog committee to monitor the general standards and quality of all privatised services.

It is most shocking that some 23 critically-ill patients in intensive care at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital could not be transferred to other hospitals during a major power failure on Wednesday because the elevators were not working, and staff had to manually operate life-support systems to sustain the patients during the crippling five-hour blackout at 4.45 p.m. on that day.

In the special care nursery, medication had to be administered with drips to 30 premature babies as infusion pumps could not operate. Three major surgeries in progress continued with torchlights and candles for illumination. The overhead lights and anaesthetic, suction and other essential equipment could not be used.

Until yesterday, Radicare (M) Sdn. Bhd, which had taken over responsibility for ensuring back-up power supply after it had been awarded the lucrative privatisation contract for the hospitalís support services, was still not available for comment as to the reason for the failure of the electrical back-up system to ensure uninterrupted power supply (UPS).

I had previously raised in Parliament the criteria and even the qualifications for awarding the lucrative hospital support services privatisation contract to Radicare (M) Sdn. Bhd. but have not been able to get any satisfactory answer from the Health Minister concerned.

As Malaysiaís privatisation process lack openness and transparency, Malaysians are paying heavily for privatisation because of many hidden inefficiencies and malpractices - like the failure of the KLGH back-up power supply system.

The Cabinet should make a policy decision to make the entire privatisation process open and transparent - not only in making public all privatised contracts and undertakings, but subjecting all companies which had won privatisation contracts to the scrutiny of a Privatisation Watchdog Body not only with regard to its rates and charges, but also with regard to the quality of its services and public accountability of various aspects of its operations.

(22/8/97)


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong