Monday, May 19, 2008

Thoughts on the MMA and the direction it should take… (Part 1)

Transparency, Accountability, Responsibility

While it is easy to shout out these slogans, the MMA must now implement these concerns, which are the rightful cries of a more expectant society, a knowledge-empowered community in the wake of our recently achieved greater democratic space.

The non-dispersing clouds of innuendoes and suspicion about lack of transparency and possible administrative lapses and deficiencies must be laid to rest.

Of course it is easy to criticise, and to make sweeping judgements and adhere to very adamant opinions, but principles of natural justice and fairplay must be the code words of the new era. I still hold true to the principle that we should never cut off one’s own noses just to spite the face! Enough is enough!

The general membership understands that mistakes and lapses may have taken place, but to go on and on, to the extent of derailing the entire organization, to the extent of even possible deregistration of the MMA must be the most cynical stance one can adopt in the corrupted belief that revolutionary destruction ex nihilo, is better than cautious reconstruction and repair. Surely, these so-called flaws are as personal in political opinion and are as biased!

Using pseudonyms or anonymous emails/blogsites to slander and libel for the sake of vindictive self-righteousness cannot be the way forward—although it has been shown that this can occasionally influence reader behaviour or even engender outrage.

While most authorities have painfully discounted such influences to their much regretted peril later on, the MMA and its leadership cannot continue to do this henceforth—it has to learn to engage the dissenting voices by directly confronting mis-statements, distortions and even downright lies.

But we do owe our membership greater transparency and disclosures, which can then allay their misguided fears or outrage; or God forbid, we must acknowledge those misdeeds that prove them right in the first place!

As president-elect, I hope to influence and work with the MMA Council to be more proactive and engaged, but will of course support fully the efforts of the President and the Council in its arduous tasks ahead.

I view it as my solemn duty, (given by the strong mandate in the ballot count) to be more vocal in addressing member concerns. I will maintain a continuing dialogue with all members of the medical profession.

I will be forthright in addressing issues as these crop up day to day, by making our stance as medical practitioners clear, or to diffuse misrepresentations by the public, consumer groups or the authorities—I have pledged that I will be fearless in exposing injustice, wrongdoings, or hateful disparaging remarks about us doctors, which demean the reputation and nobility of our profession.

I will strive to enhance the public image of and respect for the medical profession by emphasising our strengths and our generally ethical stance on major issues. We must learn to showcase our positives more, and not allow the mainstream media from portraying doctors as mean-spirited, blood-sucking greedy and uncaring unconscionable villains.

We must heighten our image by showing that we truly care more about their health and ailments than we do our own vested interests and bottom-line. Yet, we have to educate them that health care can be a very costly if unexpected business (oftentimes a personal calamity!) and indeed an escalating beast that is consuming greater and greater budgets the world over.

We have to educate the public and ourselves that while we budget for almost everything else in our lives, health care budgeting is a must, and not something that we can leave to the government (“I pay my taxes what?”) or the simple insurance premium that we purchase with nary a second thought.

I will begin by maintaining a blogsite strictly related to health care issues, which confront all of us. This is my personal attempt to make a difference, and help maintain contact with the members at large.

I will try to allay or explain what the MMA and its leadership and advisors are thinking and doing. We have to stay relevant although many issues and national healthcare related policies may be difficult to fully disclose under the current mindset of the government, which labels many of these as under the Official Secrets Act.

Like many liberal-minded advocates, I will try and push for greater freedom of information, and insist on public disclosure in the public interest. I will strive to disengage the MMA from such non-transparent collaboration unless the greater good calls for our unique involvement.

As leader, I cannot fully represent the MMA, unless I can feedback to our membership, such momentous issues which directly affect their lives, their livelihoods and even their profession.

The authorities cannot demand that as representative leaders we offer our input and show our commitment, by being silent partners in schemes, which greatly influence the affairs of the medical profession. Newer acts and regulations must be debated and publicized so that everyone gets informed and can make important contributions—whether dissenting or approving views.

I have been elected to represent the interests of our medical profession, I would therefore be reneging on my duty, my responsibility and my role, if I cannot articulate and communicate with my membership about what would or could affect them.

In this modern era, we urge the authorities to heed the cry for greater tolerance on transparency and complementarity—I do believe that top-down dictates are things of the past, and would not help engender a greater climate of trust, rapport and respect.

Of course, as representative of the medical profession, I will make all efforts to engage positively with the authorities on all things health and medical related, so that we can foster a better working relationship for the betterment of the Malaysian public.

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