Transfer of power, budget, law amendments needed for a Sabah health ministry, says Yong

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 18 Oct 2020

KOTA KINABALU: There needs to be a transfer of jurisdiction, budget from the Federal to state government, and amendments to the law if Sabah is to have its own health minister, says Datuk Yong Teck Lee.

The SAPP president, who previously explained that a Sabah health minister holds no power as the authority over medical services in the state comes under the Federal Government, said this was the way forward if there was a desire for a true state health ministry.

The nominated assemblyman said this in response to two experts from Malaysia Medical Association (MMA) and Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy (Galen Centre), based in Kuala Lumpur, who said Sabah should have its own health minister.

“If we want a true health minister for Sabah, the item 'Medicine and health' (hospitals, clinics, medical profession etc) in the Federal Constitution, need to be transferred from the Federal List to the State List.

“This means that health will truly become a state government matter.

“Secondly, all the federal budget that is to be spent on the medical services in Sabah to be transferred to the Sabah government. This is in the billions of ringgit per annum.

“At the same time, the Medical Act 1971 needs to be amended by taking Sabah out of that Act.

“A new ‘Sabah Medical Act 2021’ enacted by Parliament that empowers the Sabah government to govern the medical services and to regulate the medical profession such as doctors, nurses and other medical personnel, ” he said in a statement on Sunday (Oct 18).

Yong added that this entails for Malaysia Medical Council to be renamed Peninsula Malaysia Medical Council, paving way for a new Sabah Medical Council to be created through the ‘Sabah Medical Act 2021’.

He said MMA who suggested the state ministry, should also play its role to tell the Federal Government to transfer ‘health’ from federal to Sabah state authority.

Similarly, the Galen Centre which is an independent public policy organisation should openly voice support for the above transfer of ‘health’ from federal to state authority.

“As a lawyer and not a medical expert, I hope these experts realize that what Sabah needs is a true minister of health and not a fake health minister.

“Sabah’s former ministry of health had no budget, no power ... instead, when the state health minister then visited hospitals, he was asked to donate filing cabinets and to repair car parks.

“Until such time that the above constitutional and financial actions are taken, any call for the creation of a health ministry for Sabah is to make fun of Sabahans, ” stressed Yong, following criticism over the drop of the Health portfolio in new Sabah cabinet line up.

The ministry was created by the then Warisan Plus government.

Yong further suggested to take a cue from statutory body Sabah Law Society which has regulatory and disciplinary powers over the legal profession in Sabah, where the Bar Council of Malaysia has no power over the legal profession here, that can be applied when forming the suggested Sabah Medical Council.

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