By Michelle Ng
Readers of SJ Echo would, through these pages see coverage and perhaps a brief update from YB Wong Chen’s office. The statement from my office has also been covered in several media, and so I would use this space instead to answer some frequent questions and comments from the community which have arisen since news broke of the Klinik Kesihatan’s cancellation.
- Why doesn’t government just rent a shop for the clinic.
Klinik Kesihatan-s are not shop lot clinics with one or two general practitioners and staff nurse. It is akin to a small hospital with widely needed services such as outpatient, accident and emergency, dental, maternity, x-ray, labs, pharmacies, rehab and some may even have sick bays. From these services, it is clear that shop lots are insufficient to house the array of services that a Klinik Kesihatan provides.
Furthermore, Klinik Kesihatan-s have lower price points. At present, at RM1. This, coupled with the scope of services provided makes healthcare accessible to vulnerable communities – and such is its purpose.
- MBSJ should build the Klinik Kesihatan.
First, In the case of Klinik Kesihatan USJ – it is not an issue of the Federal Government not having the money. In fact, the 12th Malaysian Plan allocated RM45million for the project. The money is there. It should proceed with the project based on this budget. Instead, when the Ministry of Health put forward a RM67.8million budget to the Economic Planning Unit, they decided to cancel the whole project instead of getting the Ministry to re-propose within the RM45million allocated! This is ludicrous decision making.
Second, there is a need to understand government systems and jurisdiction. Each level of government – Federal, State or Local – are given jurisdictions in law ie the Federal Constitution or the Local Government Act 1976. The Federal Government governs issues such as Health, Education, Transport, Defence, Foreign Affairs and so on; the State Government governs issues such as Land, Islamic Affairs, Forestry, Mining, Rivers, Entertainment etc; whilst Local Government governs matters relating to roads, trees, drainage, planning and so on.
Each government correspondingly has an area of coverage – in the case of the Federal Government, the entire country; each State Government has jurisdiction over their respective states only and each local government – the gazetted boundary. These boundaries are important as it determines the ambit of the taxes each government can collect.
Now the types of taxes are also important. Each government collects different types of taxes which provides different quantum, and which corresponds with the scope of its legal jurisdiction. For Federal Government – Income Tax, Real Property Gains Tax, Petroleum Income Tax, Goods and Services Tax, Excise Duty, Customs Duty and Stamp Duty. For State Governments – we collect quit rent, land premium, entertainment tax, forest and mining levies. As for local governments – their income is from assessment tax, licenses, trades, fines and chargeable services.
The ambit of collection based on the area of coverage would affect quantum, and the type of tax also provides different quantum. Logically therefore, this means that the Federal Government collects the most tax, followed by State and then the Local Government. This also corresponds with the legal jurisdiction that each Government has to take care of.
Each type of government is therefore obliged to plan their expenditure within the income collected and their scope of responsibility. Further research will demonstrate that each government would have just about enough to take care of its respective jurisdictions. In fact, for some State Governments, they require further financial assistance from the Federal Government by way of loans or grants. Likewise for certain Local Governments which may need further financial assistance from State and Federal Governments.
The long and short of it is this – there is a reason why taxes and jurisdictions in Malaysia are crafted as such. If the Federal Government wants to devolve responsibility to the State or Local Government, it must also come with authority to collect more types of taxes to fund those responsibilities. Until then, it would be unfair on other governments to carve out from its lesser coffers that are meant to sustain its existing responsibilities to fund the Federal Government’s responsibility.
- Why didn’t the Pakatan Harapan Government do anything in their time?
They did. My office wrote letters to the Finance Ministry in 2019, which contributed to this project being listed as part of the 12th Malaysian Plan, Rolling Plan 1. I also sat in the District Office consultation for the 12th Malaysian Plan, which also listed this project. I also attended the site visit between various stakeholders – being the Land Office and the Petaling District Health Office – to determine next steps for the Klinik Kesihatan.
Arguably, if there wasn’t a change of government in 2018, Klinik Kesihatan USJ may not even have made it to the 12th Malaysian Plan. What remains is to have the project executed, which was supposed to happen this year.
- Do consider fundraising the additional RM22million.
Subang Jaya has always been supportive of community efforts. However, in this case, it would be unfair to our residents to do so. The fundraising process for government projects is taxation, to which our residents have dutifully contributed. Our duty as elected representatives is to ensure accountable use of those monies.
In this case, since RM45million was allocated, the project should proceed based on this amount!