Monday, August 18, 2014

'Stop gov't funding after end of medical romance'

3:16PM Aug 18, 2014
The termination of the partnership between the prestigious Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Malaysia's Perdana University Graduate School of Medicine (Pugsom) reflects badly on the state of education in the country, said DAP.

It also calls the government to cease any funding for ongoing campus construction or send more public-funded scholars to Pugsom.

“The end of the four year medical romance with the world-renowned Johns Hopkins University... reinforces the culture of mediocrity in Malaysian educational standards, and the sad reality that there is no room for excellent institutions or brilliant students,” said secretary-general Lim Guan Eng (above) in a statement today.

The termination, following late payments from Pugsom to Johns Hopkins, shows the government’s failure to realise the importance of the programme despite initial fanfare, Lim said.

Lim also demanded an explanation from the government over how much has been spent on this "futile programme" as the public deserves to know.

“Following the abject failure, the federal government must explain to the public how much it cost for this failed venture,” Lim lamented.

The partnership between Pugsom and Johns Hopkins was launched in grand manner by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in September 2010, with the PM claiming the partnership would turn Malaysia into a medical research hub in the region.

"Liow Tiong Lai, who was then Health Minister, even claimed that the presence of the prestigious Johns Hopkins in Malaysia would boost the country's health tourism industry," he added.

The Malaysian Insider today reported that Johns Hopkins pulled out of Pugsom this year, citing frequent late payments as much as 12 months overdue.

A construction company running a university?

Meanwhile, DAP’s Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming has called for the government to stop funding the Pugsom programme entirely.

“The government should immediately stop putting any government funding into the RM2.3 billion Public Private Partnership Project to construct the Perdana University campus which includes a 600 bed teaching hospital,” he said in a statement today.

The former lecturer added that the government should stop sending new Public Service Department scholars to Pugsom as its owners, Academic Medical Centre Sdn Bhd’s ability to stay afloat is now in question.

According to Ong (left), Academic Medical Centre’s financial accounts submitted to the Companies Commission showed negative reserves of RM189 million and it made a loss of RM63.6 million as of 2013 year end.

He also called on the government to cease any funding to Academic Medical Centre’s parent company Chase Perdana for ongoing campus construction.

“The fact that this project was allocated to Chase Perdana, raises many questions as to why a construction company was given the land and license to operate a medical university and why the construction of this university campus had to be awarded to the parent company of Academic Medical Center.”

“I sincerely hope this is not another example of a Public Pirate Partnership masquerading as a Public Private Partnership where the private party involved gets to reap all the financial benefits with the Public having to bear the ultimate cost,” Ong concluded.

Ong also urges urgent intervention to ensure that the students who are now in the Johns Hopkins-Pugsom programme are able to complete their studies as planned next year.

He said that this may not as be as simple as transferring the students to another medical university as the students are graduate students who already have medical degrees.

"Proper consultation must be held with the stakeholders especially the students and their parents," he said.
~ Malaysiakini

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