KUALA LUMPUR: The Government has no objection in principle to the request by Sime Darby Bhd to acquire a stake in the National Heart Institute (IJN), Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.
However, he said the company has to keep in mind that social responsibility must take precedence over financial gains.
Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said private companies intending to buy a stake in IJN should give high priority to providing affordable treatment to the poorer segments of society.
He said the Government is studying what IJN’s future role would be if its ownership was to be transferred to the private sector.
The Government under the Minister of Finance Incorporated has 99.99% equity ownership in IJN, which was established in 1992.
“We are in the process of finalising the proposal, although in principle we have no objection to this.
“What I’m looking into is to ensure that the aspect of social responsibility is maintained.
“The private sector must give us a strong commitment that the poor will not be marginalised if IJN is transferred to Sime Darby,” he told reporters after chairing a Cabinet committee meeting on AIDS with Health Ministry officials at Parliament House on Thursday.
In a statement to Bursa Malaysia on Wednesday, Sime Darby said it had written to the Government about its intention to acquire a stake in IJN Holdings Sdn Bhd, which operates the IJN, and was now awaiting for an official response.
The company did not provide details on the size of the stake or the price involved.
Najib said the a positive outcome of the proposal would be that funding would not be an issue, while IJN doctors would be receiving better financial benefits.
“IJN doctors can get higher remuneration at the highest market rate. The institute will not lose its specialists to other hospitals, with new hospitals springing up providing better treatment for heart patients.
“There’s a tendency for these private hospitals to pinch heart doctors from the IJN,” he claimed.
Separately, Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai also said that the Government would continue to regulate fees at IJN even if the institute were to be privatised, to ensure patients are not overcharged.
Meanwhile, Sime Darby on Thursday gave its assurance that it would maintain the fee structure of IJN to ensure the poor and middle class patients get the same treatment if it takes over the hospital.
Viewpoint: Don’t privatise the National Heart Institute