Press Statement on the Arrests and Detention of Undocumented Migrants: 31 May 2021

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Health Equity Initiatives (HEI) is deeply concerned by media reports stating that the Immigration Department of Malaysia (JIM) will be detaining undocumented migrants during the two-week lockdown period from 1 June to 14 June 2021.

This announcement runs contrary to earlier promises made by the government on several occasions not to arrest or detain undocumented migrants coming forward for COVID-19 screening, testing, or vaccinations. One should recall that such pledges were made to regain the eroding trust and confidence of these ostracized communities towards the health system to curb the rising COVID-19 infections in Malaysia.

In the press conference held by the Home Minister, he stated that the Prisons Department is ready to allocate additional detention centres for detainees. With the daily cases reaching all-time highs, the proposed actions are counterintuitive to public health advice and threaten the tremendous efforts made by the front liners and others, especially the Ministry of Health, to control this pandemic. As a convening member of the People’s Health Forum, HEI has previously released statements cautioning of the far-reaching implications of crackdowns, namely, forming new clusters and, importantly, risks of disease transmission driving these vulnerable populations underground. Indeed, the attempted escapes of individuals in EMCO areas and detection of confirmed positive cases in immigration detention centres in the past demonstrate the validity of the above concerns.

Additionally, the government should consider the increased health and safety risks to immigration officers due to detention centres presenting conditions that may increase the transmission of the disease. This may also put their family members at risk of acquiring COVID and jeopardize many Malaysians’ health and wellbeing. As the health system struggles with shortages of infrastructure, any increase in numbers would put avoidable stress on the struggling health system.

HEI holds extreme concerns that these actions by the Home Ministry will further exacerbate the ongoing fear, despair, and distress these vulnerable populations face daily. Since the start of the pandemic, a deepening sense of helplessness, hopelessness, and desperation were consistent in reports across refugee communities as they grappled with the loss of employment, food insecurity and hunger, housing insecurity as many got evicted, and fear of arrest and detention. More so, when experienced in addition to the sequelae of their traumatic experiences in their countries of origin, many experienced an exacerbation of symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD), Depression and Anxiety.

We acknowledge the government’s role in protecting the country’s territorial integrity and the need to regulate migration, including collecting taxes. This is best achieved through a currently lacking coherent migration policy aligning with the country’s human resource needs. Concerning refugees, it is also essential that we address the causes of displacement in the region. While we have expressed the much-needed and much-justified outrage at the Israeli attacks on the Palestinians, our response to the brutal assault of the army on innocent civilians in our region in Myanmar has not been as robust. Until and unless we look at these issues holistically and comprehensively, our piecemeal efforts at managing irregular migration will not bring us the required results.

While the above issues are significant, the public health imperative to control the surge in infections and secure Malaysians’ health and wellbeing requires us to explore strategies to bring everyone in the country, including undocumented migrants, into our strategy to combat the pandemic. The health and safety of all, citizens and non-citizens alike, should be continuously protected and upheld during this period, and arrests and detention are not an appropriate measure to be taken in these circumstances. We thus urgently call on the Malaysian government to impose a moratorium on the arrests and detention of undocumented immigrants.

Public health first: Call for moratorium on immigration detention of undocumented migrants

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Press Statement by the People’s Health Forum on 24 MAY 2020

The People’s Health Forum (PHF) expresses its deepest regret that the Federal Government has failed to pay heed to various civil society groups calling for a moratorium on actions against undocumented migrants for at least six months.

The PHF had sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister on 20th March 2020 on this exact issue, and another statement on 1st May expressing deep concern and repeating the call to the government to desist from pursuing the crackdown on undocumented migrant workers. Three weeks later (as of 23rd May) 60 and 21 positive COVID-19 cases have been detected in the immigration detention centres in Bukit Jalil and Semenyih respectively.

In the press conference held by the Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob on 22nd May, he stated that the 60 confirmed positive cases in Bukit Jalil had been in detention in the centre even before the Movement Control Order (MCO) took effect, and that all 114 of the immigration officers on duty had tested negative.

Based on the above statements which were made public and the absence of information on case zero in the centres, the supposition that the infection started in both detention centres before the MCO is ambiguous and arguable. In view of the foregoing circumstances and limited information provided, it could well be likely that the infection source might have been from the newer detainees mixing with the detainees who had been in detention prior to the MCO.

The government has been forewarned on the implications of crackdown measures during this time of crisis and outbreak, i.e., new outbreaks of disease and more critically, disease transmission being driven underground. While the government has stated that it will be screening detainees in the detention centres, testing alone is not a fool proof measure to prevent the spread of the disease.

If the testing is only done once, there is no guarantee that the person would be free from infection as the infected person may test negative because the test is unable to detect new exposure to infection within five days.

We are aware that three weeks are already sufficient to trigger two to three generations of spread of the virus. Given pre-existing cramped conditions in the centres and pressure that will be put on the infrastructure with more detainees being brought in, there are grave concerns regarding the government’s ability to ensure that robust preventive measures can be established in such conditions to prevent the transmission of disease. These include the salience of social distancing and limitations posed to environmental non-pharmaceutical interventions within cramped and overcrowded conditions. In the absence of robust preventive measures, a high number of infections among the detainees is highly likely, mirroring what happened in Singapore.

Contrary to prevailing logic, the government’s punitive approach toward undocumented migrants and refugees during this time of crisis poses a public health risk (e.g. some individuals attempted escape from the EMCO areas). It also hurts the local economy as many sectors do rely on such workers for their day-to-day operations. It further puts immigration detention officers at grave risk of contracting the disease, with their potential infection posing health risks to their family members too.

Regrettably, the arrests of undocumented migrants by the government at this time has also had another inadvertent impact in terms of creating a deficit of trust in the health system among the migrant communities. It erodes the impact of the tremendous efforts put in by the Ministry of Health in combating this pandemic. Civil society groups worked hard to be the bridge between the migrant communities and the government to build trust in the health system which is critical to controlling this outbreak. Upon assurance of the Ministry of Health in the early days of the pandemic, they encouraged migrant and refugee communities to come out for COVID-19 screening voluntarily and without fear. Although non-citizens and the trust they place in the health system may not appear to be a matter of importance from a legal point of view, it is critical from a public health point of view in arresting the spread of disease. Non-health related ministries need to understand the importance of respecting public health principles especially during this time of outbreak of a disease which has no proven treatment, and which relies critically on prevention of disease transmission.

In this connection, the government must remember that as a member of the global community, the United Nations, and the World Health Organization, it has a higher duty of care toward people in incarceration, and an obligation to control the spread of the pandemic regionally and globally. The detection of COVID-19 in deported migrants, as in the case of the migrants from Myanmar, does not augur well for Malaysia’s reputation in this regard. Actions of deportation of migrants from Malaysia at this time also raise concern as migrant sending countries such as Nepal have closed their borders to prevent the ravaging of their fragile health systems by the pandemic. This is the time for States and people to show solidarity and support for what is a global pandemic.

Finally, it cannot be over-emphasized that taking care and monitoring the health of large migrant communities in the country is a way to protect co-existing local communities as well.

As such we urgently call upon the government to:

1. Immediately stop the arrests of undocumented migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons without documents.

2. Allow the Ministry of Health to take lead on the control of transmission of COVID-19, including for non-citizens, and support the Ministry of Health in its efforts in combating the pandemic.

3. Invite SUHAKAM to undertake a monitoring visit to detention centres to provide an independent report of the events leading to the detection of COVID-19 cases in immigration detention centres, and ensuring that strong preventive measures are being undertaken to control disease transmission in immigration detention centres.

4. Cooperate with international agencies and civil society organizations to increase access to hygiene products and other necessary supplies to detainees and to allow the UN High Commission on Refugees to identify and register Persons of Concern.

5. Develop a coherent and rational migration policy framework that links with an effective blueprint of the country’s human resource needs.

6. In order to preserve the rule of law, take action against xenophobic hate speech against migrant communities whose contributions over the years has built this country.

Convenors of the People’s Health Forum:

Agora Society Malaysia
Citizens’ Health Initiative
Health Equity Initiatives
Parti Sosialis Malaysia
Third World Network
* The People’s Health Forum (PHF) is a space created by NGOs and individuals who are committed to the principle of Health for All, i.e. universal healthcare as an entitlement based not on the ability to pay, but on the basis of need

Detention of Undocumented Migrants will Negate Ministry of Health’s Efforts in COVID-19 Control

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Press Statement by the People’s Health Forum on 1 MAY 2020 in Kuala Lumpur

Detention of Undocumented Migrants will Negate Ministry of Health’s Efforts in COVID-19 Control

The People’s Health Forum is extremely concerned by the announcement made on 29 April by senior minister, Datuk Sri Ismail Shabri Yaakob, that the government will reverse its previous promise to not arrest any undocumented migrants or refugees during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The earlier announcement by the Ministry of Health (MoH) that undocumented migrants and refugees should not fear arrest in coming forward for screening and testing was intended to establish mutual trust and voluntary cooperation from this population, as the pandemic teaches us that the virus does not respect race, nationality, ethnicity, religion or documentation status.

According to the senior minister, “the government will place all illegal immigrants identified in areas under an enhanced movement control order (EMCO) at immigration detention centres after the order is lifted” (29 April, The Edge Market). Not only is this group of people already struggling to sustain their livelihoods on a daily basis, many of them as refugees live with the sequelae of past traumatic experiences, including contending with ongoing feelings of fear, helplessness and even terror on a daily basis. Most of us, if not all, are fortunate enough to live without such fear. Hard as it might be for us to imagine the effect of the announcement on their physical and mental wellbeing with the renewed fear of being targeted and arrested once again, it will most definitely increase distrust and drive them and the disease transmission underground. Inadvertently, such a strategy is contrary to principles of good public health practice and does not bode well for them or the health of Malaysians.

More than once, the MOH has reminded the entire nation of the utmost importance of having as many infected persons as possible receive treatment in order to contain the spread of the virus. The detention of undocumented migrants will negate MOH’s hard work and positive efforts in controlling the spread of COVID-19. Moreover, as the Director-General (DG) of Health has urged the people to come together as one, alongside the government, to fight against the disease, the latest decision on detaining undocumented migrants seems even more unfathomable. Clearly, the government cannot and will not be able to do it alone, let alone through harsh and strict measures.

It is high time that everyone, especially those among the various ministries engaged in the control of the disease transmission, is on the same page as the MOH in order that we do not act in any way that negates the tremendous efforts made by our MOH in controlling the disease. Let us also not forget our health care workers who are toiling on the front lines, risking their lives and those of their families for the rest of us, and do our part to make their efforts for all of us count.

We understand the rising and valid concerns over the apparently growing number of undocumented migrants and refugees in the country. This is an outcome of years of lack of a coherent policy framework on migration and the absence of a concrete policy related to  refugees, which is a responsibility of the government. Rather than arresting the few that are trapped in the EMCO areas, the government should instead work toward developing a coherent policy on migration, employ diplomatic means with the countries of origin to resolve the problem of irregular migration, target human trafficking syndicates, and investigate the corruption that is contributing to the problem.

To make things worse, we also observe that many Malaysian citizens have engaged in hurling baseless accusations, such as the false claim that the Rohingya has monopolised businesses at Pasar Borong Selayang, or the claim that refugees are given RM35 per day as pocket money. The latter has been refuted by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR (see “UNHCR Denies Fake News On Daily Assistance For All Refugees” published on 29 April, on There are many more assertions that are just xenophobic and racist insults. It is regrettable that many have turned a blind eye to the actual contributions of this population, as workers and consumers, to our country and economy.

We strongly urge the government to address the issue based on facts and figures and the principle of human rights. Acquiescing to fake news and appeasing populist pressures do not help strengthen the rule of law or democracy in the country.

Singapore made the mistake of excluding the 1.4 million migrant workers in their midst (especially the 300,000 housed in congested dormitory complexes) from their modelling of the COVID-19 spread in Singapore, and has to consequently deal with an uncontrolled outbreak within the workers’ dormitories. Let us not add to our own problems of congested migrant workers’ housing by driving undocumented migrants underground, beyond the reach of contact tracing.

We therefore call on the government to suspend the decision to arrest undocumented migrants. Let us get everyone who may have contracted the virus to step forward for timely testing and treatment without fear. Let us truly leave no one behind, like the Prime Minister has once pledged.

Convenors of the People’s Health Forum:

Agora Society Malaysia
Citizens’ Health Initiative
Health Equity Initiatives
Parti Sosialis Malaysia
Third World Network

* The People’s Health Forum (PHF) is a space created by NGOs and individuals who are committed to the principle of Health for All, i.e. universal healthcare as an entitlement based not on the ability to pay, but on the basis of need.

Media inquiry please contact Dr Sharuna Verghis 019-6188770 or Dr Lim Chee Han 014-9272586

Memorandum and Open Letter to the Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, by The People’s Health Forum on 20 MAR 2020 in Kuala Lumpur 

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Memorandum and Open Letter to the Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, by The People’s Health Forum on 20 MAR 2020 in Kuala Lumpur

Dear Prime Minister,

Implementation of additional measures which have to be taken in order to curb the COVID-19 outbreak

We, the signatories of the letter would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation on the ongoing efforts by the Ministry of Health (MOH) personnel to combat the outbreak of COVID-19.  MOH has played a pivotal role in the containment of COVID-19 among Malaysians by identifying the cases, tracing and isolating the contacts of those who are infected with the virus and then treating them.

We, the civil society groups, academics, health activists and medical practitioners have been closely following the development of the COVID-19 outbreak in Malaysia and at international level. Thus, we would like to suggest a few additional measures, which have to be implemented in order to further strengthen our country’s response to control this serious public health threat. Some of the additional measures are:

  1. Isolation of COVID-19 contact cases

We welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement on 11/3/2020 pertaining to the establishment of the COVID-19 Fund managed by the country’s National Disaster Management Agency to help the COVID-19 patients and those who have had close contact with these patients.  We hope that these efforts could be further strengthened by:

a)Establishing a joint committee with the Health Department, Local Council, National Disaster Management Agency and the Welfare Department in every town and at district level to trace those who have had been in contact with COVID-19 patients (through phone calls), identify their needs and send essentials such as food, their regular medications, and other essentials for those families who may have not been able to carry out these tasks because their family members are infected with the virus.

b)The opening of temporary boarding facilities to accommodate the contacts of COVID-19 patients who may live in a crowded environment such as low cost flats where effective isolation could not be done because of limited space and toilets/ bathrooms have to be shared. The sports center and local college hostels could be temporarily used to accommodate these contacts who may not be able to isolate themselves in their houses. This is important because it can prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

  1. The Restricted Movement Order

We support the government’s announcement on the Restriction of Movement Order that is effective from March 18th to March 31st 2020. At this stage, this is a very important measure to curb the outbreak of COVID-19 among people from all walks of life. If this measure is not implemented strictly, the transmission of COVID-19 will burden the public health system. Resources and manpower will be channeled to combat the outbreak and this will disrupt the ongoing treatment for patients with cancer, HIV and other chronic illnesses.

In conjunction with YAB’s announcement on the Restricted Movement Order dated March 16th 2020, we would like to highlight some grey areas that need to be addressed for the welfare of the rakyat:

a)The daily wage earners, especially women workers working in the service sectors such as restaurants and coffee shops are paid on a daily basis and if these premises are closed, they will not be paid any compensation. Many of them earn a meager income and will face difficulties in providing the necessities of their children in the coming two weeks.

b)We also need to consider the situation of factory workers who are paid on monthly basis, those who are working in goods and retails shops and other premises. These groups will be given leave by their employers due to this order and their state of income is very unclear and therefore needs to be clarified. Are they given paid leave or non-paid leave? How about the employers who are facing cash flow issues – no business activity but will have to pay fixed costs such as rental and salary?

c)Many debtors who have mortgages and loans will face difficulties in paying their monthly installments for March and the coming month due to the losses / decrease in their incomes.  Their situation will need to be taken into account and measures should be taken to alleviate their concerns.

Our suggestions for the above mentioned issues:

  • Rationed food for families who are unable to buy their monthly house provisions due to loss of income. A committee at the district level should be established with the involvement of the Social Welfare Department and NGOs working on welfare issues in the district to identify families, which are facing these problems. An adequate allocation has to be channeled to the Social Welfare Department to carry out this programme.
  • Employers with businesses making annual net revenue of RM300, 000 and above should be ordered to pay full salaries for the period of ‘restriction of movement order’. On the other hand, business owners with smaller net margin profits should be given some flexibilities to pay half month salaries for this period.  SME banks or other similar monetary institutions should provide a special fund, which could be lent to those business owners who are facing cash flow problems so that they are able to pay their employees’ salaries. This loan should have low interest rates.
  • All the banks should be ordered not to impose any penalties to those who are unable to pay their monthly installments for these two months. (The loan/ mortgage repayment period should be extended for the next 2 months.)

The above-mentioned recommendations would represent a critical alleviation for those who are in pressing or dire situations. Besides that, they would also generate the aggregate demand in the domestic market, which will eventually lower the probability of recession/ economy crisis.

  1. Managing the Foreign Workers

There are about 2 million foreign workers and another 4 million or more undocumented workers.  Currently, many of them have to fork out a hefty sum of money for their diagnosis and treatment in public hospitals and clinics. Therefore, many are reluctant to visit MOH clinics and hospitals. The letter from the MOH’s Treasury Secretary Department dated 29/1/2020 has stated that investigative diagnosis and treatment will be free for patients suspected of having COVID-19.  However, this letter did not state if the investigative diagnosis and treatment is free of charge for patients suspected of having COVID-19 who then are diagnosed as free of COVID-19.  The MOH letter stated that ‘patients who do not show any symptoms will be charged an outpatient rate amounting to RM40 and other incidental charges where applicable.’ Many foreign workers will continue to be reluctant to visit public hospitals if they have to incur high charges for treatment of other conditions (false COVID-19 cases). This will undermine our country’s efforts to curb the transmission among Malaysians.  We recommend for a deferral on the implementation of Treatment Fees for Foreign Workers (2014) for the next 6 months. It will helpful for now if the treatment fees for the foreign workers is reduced to the same treatment fees for Malaysia and this information should be disseminated effectively among the foreign workers.

Besides that, the government will have look into the issues of detention, arrest and filing of charges against those who are classified as undocumented foreign workers (UFC) / illegal immigrants (IL).  Many of them may have fears of deportation and thus avoid coming to government institutions. Those who are COVID-19 positive will not reveal the names and their addresses of their close contacts who may be susceptible to the virus due to fear of deportation, arrest and detention. Thus, due to the staggering number of UFCs and ILs (approximately 4 million), their fear and reluctance to cooperate will undermine our efforts to curb this outbreak.

Our suggestion:  Declare/ Announce a 6 months moratorium on ULCs and ILs. The government should be able to guarantee that ULCs and ILs would not be arrested, charged or deported to their origin countries for not having legal/ legitimate travel documents for a particular period of time.

Additional suggestions: To establish a joint committee with foreign worker communities in order to facilitate MOH’s efforts in identifying and tracing the contact cases of COVID-19 among these communities. This joint committee should also be responsible in disseminating the information pertaining to health services and COVID-19 among the foreign workers. The government should provide accommodation / hostels to place these identified contacts of COVID-19.


  1. The safety of MOH personnel

Malaysians are very grateful to all the doctors, nurses, paramedics and hospitals auxiliary workers who are on the front lines dealing with identified COVID-19 patients or those who are suspected of having COVID-19.

Our recommendations:

  • Ensure they are provided with sufficient personnel protective equipment such as surgical masks, visors, protective clothes (surgical gowns) and gloves.
  • Have regular discussions or counseling sessions with the medical workers so they have an avenue to channel their distress and together devise ways on how to overcome their distress and other identified issues pertaining to work.

Our recommendations in this letter will require coordinated efforts with other agencies and ministries. Thus, it is very vital to establish a National Committee that comprises of MOH, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Social Welfare, Ministry of Communications and Multimedia, National Disaster Management Agency, Ministry of Higher Education and Ministry of Housing and Local Government.  This National Committee should be chaired by your good self so that immediate responses pertaining to the management of the COVID-19 outbreak could be taken. We also hope that adequate allocation is provided to MOH and other relevant ministries, which are involved in the implementation of all programmes aimed at curbing the COVID-19 outbreak.

Thank you.


The People’s Health Forum


* The People’s Health Forum (PHF) is a space created by NGOs and individuals who are committed to the principle of Health for All, i.e. universal healthcare as an entitlement based not on the ability to pay, but on the basis of need


Media inquiry please contact Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj 019-5616807


Individuals and Groups that have endorsed the memorandum are as below:




  1. Agora Society
  2. Aliran
  3. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
  4. Arts-ED Penang
  5. Bersih 2.0
  6. Beyond Borders Malaysia
  7. Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
  8. Childline Foundation
  9. Citizens’ Health Initiative
  10. Consumers Association of Penang
  11. Engage
  12. Federation of Reproductive Health Associations, Malaysia
  13. Foreign Spouses Support Group
  14. Galen Centre for Health & Social Policy
  15. Health Equity Initiatives
  16. IDRIS Association
  17. In Between Cultura
  18. Institute for Education Development, Social, Religious, and Cultural Studies (INFEST)
  19. International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF)
  20. International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW-AP)
  21. Johor Yellow Flame (JYF)
  22. Justice For Sisters
  23. KRYSS Network
  24. Labour Law Reform Coalition
  25. Local Unionist Networks (Malaysia)
  26. Majlis Tindakan Ekonomi Melayu
  27. Malaysian Campaign For Equal Citizenship
  28. MyPJ (Persatuan Penduduk Petaling Jaya)
  29. North South Initiative
  30. Our Journey
  31. Parti Sosialis Malaysia
  32. Penang Forum
  33. Penang Heritage Trust
  34. Penang Hills Watch
  35. Penang Stop Trafficking Campaign
  36. Peoples Like Us Support Ourselves (PLUsos)
  37. Persatuan Komuniti Prihatin Selangor & KL
  38. Persatuan Penduduk Galing Besar Kuantan
  39. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
  40. Persekutuan Persatuan-Persatuan Lembaga Pengurus Sekolah Cina Malaysia (Dong Zong)
  41. Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia
  42. Pertubuhan Solidariti Hijau Kuantan
  43. Pertubuhan Wanita Malaysia untuk Kawalan Tembakau & Kesihatan (MyWATCH)
  44. Positive Malaysian Treatment Access & Advocacy Group (MTAAG+)
  45. Pusat KOMAS
  46. Sahabat Alam Malaysia
  47. Save Malaysia Stop Lynas
  48. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia
  49. SUARAM (Suara Rakyat Malaysia)
  50. Tanjung Bungah Residents Association (TBRA)
  51. Third World Network
  52. Toy Libraries Malaysia
  53. Women’s Aid Organisation
  54. Women’s Centre for Change (WCC)




  1. Abel Benjamin Lim
  2. Andrew Filmer
  3. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Aini Hamid
  4. Andrew Khoo
  5. S Arutchelvam
  6. Chee Yoke Ling
  7. Chan Yit Fei
  8. Charis Loke
  9. Dr Chee Heng Leng
  10. Chen Yoke Pin
  11. Chia Kien Eng
  12. Choong Tet Sieu
  13. Chow Chee Keong
  14. Chris Lowe
  15. Dr Chua Hang Kuen
  16. Foo Wei Meng
  17. Dr Jane Cardosa
  18. Janet Pillai
  19. Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj
  20. Dr Kam Suan Pheng
  21. Karen Lai
  22. Khoo Ai Wah
  23. Prof Khoo Boo Teik
  24. Dr Khoo Teng Jian
  25. Dr Khoo Teng Xiang
  26. Kuppamal Ramasamy
  27. Lee Chin Ark
  28. Lee Khek Mui
  29. Lee-Lim Ai Ping
  30. Lew Chee Leng
  31. Dr Lim Chee Han
  32. Lim Kah Cheng
  33. Lim Poh Im
  34. Loo Que Lin
  35. Low Swee Heong
  36. Dr Lynnie Lim
  37. Dr Mohd Nasir
  38. Mok Yim Paik
  39. Ng Fun Boon
  40. Norhidayah Nadila Maulad Daud
  41. Dr Peter Gan Kim Soon
  42. Prema Devaraj
  43. Dr. Rajadorai Natarajah
  44. Radziah Binti Othuman Sahib
  45. Roslin bt Ludiin
  46. Sathesh Raj
  47. Shanthi Dairam
  48. Sharon Khoo
  49. A Sivarajan
  50. Dr Sharuna Verghis
  51. Sherley Tan
  52. Soh Sook Hwa
  53. Stefan Dawson
  54. Syed Mohamed Shahruddin
  55. Tan Pek Leng
  56. Dr Toh Kin Woon
  57. Dr Vivian Lee
  58. Prof Wong Chin Huat
  59. Wong Hoy Cheong
  60. Wong Sau Ngan
  61. Yap Heng Lung
  62. Yatie Jonet
  63. Yeap Jin Soo
  64. Yee Pey Cheng
  65. Zi Qing Low

Moratorium dan Reassessment on MySalam Scheme

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YAB Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad
Prime Minister of Malaysia

YAB Tun,

Re: Moratorium dan Reassessment on MySalam Scheme

We, groups and individuals who undersign this appeal letter, are very concerned with the MySalam scheme which was recently launched by the Malaysian government. From the statements of the Minister of Finance and Minister of Health, we understand that the MySalam scheme contains two components.

Component I: A lump sum payment of RM 8, 000 to the individuals who are in the B40 group, age between 18 years old to 55 years old, if they are diagnosed with any of the 36 illnesses;
Component II: A daily payment of RM 50 to individuals in the same group, upon their admission into government hospital, with a cap of 14 days every year.

We also understand that the Great Eastern Insurance Company will be paid RM 400 million a year (premium of RM 112 per person for 3.7 million individuals) for a period of 5 years, for providing this protection to the targeted group in the B40 group. According to the statement by the Minister of Finance, the payment is made from a fund of RM 2 billion, which was already paid by the Great Eastern Company to the Malaysian Government, in order to be exempted from the requirement of selling 30% of its share to Malaysian Institutions, such as KWSP and PNB.

We accept the good will of the government in aiding the citizens in the B40 group despite the nation being burdened by debts previously incurred by BN’s administration. However, several matters in this scheme have raised our doubts and worries. One of which is the fact that the government has not conducted an actuarial assessment on the package, which was offered by Great Eastern.

Under these exclusion clauses, it is impossible for a patient with Parkinson’s Disease (#30) to receive RM 8, 000.00 in the coming 5 years, because this disease usually occurs in people with ages more than 70 years old and it will take more than 10 years to deteriorate to the level where the Activities of Daily Living (ADL) are impaired. The patients with Parkinson’s Disease, who have difficulty in carrying out their ADL are usually diagnosed 10 years earlier, and are then excluded from the scheme. The new cases of Parkinson’s Disease who are diagnosed after 1/1/2019 will not reach the level of impairment on ADL within the period of 5 years. The clauses on ADL will also exclude many patients with meningitis (#3), encephalitis (#13) and head injury (#24) from benefiting from MySalam scheme.

Other than the ADL clause, there is also another clause on “permanency” or permanent disability for meningitis, encephalitis and head injury. Is it possible that the Great Eastern Company will reject the claims of patients with these illnesses, even though they fulfill the criteria of experiencing difficulty with ADL, due to reasons of “permanency”?

There are also exclusion clauses which are not clearly stated – heart attacks (18), weak hearts or even cardiomyopathy (#8) and cancer (#7) are only eligible to receive a payment of RM 8, 000 if their illness is of a specified severity! Does the Malaysian Government know the severity of these illnesses to be entitled to receive RM 8, 000? Or does the Minister of Finance wholly believe in the sincerity of the Great Eastern company without undertaking a detailed study on the quantum of assistance which will be received by the B40 group through this MySalam scheme?

We feel that it is imperative that the MySalam scheme be temporarily suspended so that an actuarial assessment can be conducted to estimate the expected quantum of payments within a year in accordance with MySalam scheme after all exclusion clauses are taken into account. If the quantum is far less than RM 400 million payable by the government for the protection of the scheme, we should revoke MySalam scheme and look for other methods to use the RM 2 billion compensation for the welfare of the B40 group.

One of the methods to be considered is to use this amount to help patients from the B40 group to pay for equipment and appliances, which is now payable by government hospital patients, such as metal plates and screws for orthopedic surgery, eye lenses for cataract surgery, drug-eluting stents for angioplasty procedures and so on. This represents a huge burden on the patients from the B40 group and the assistance in buying these equipments would very much alleviate their financial burden.

We hope the Prime Minister can intervene in this matter to ensure the RM 2 billion from the Great Eastern Company would be best utilized for the citizens in B40 group.

Thank you.

So far the following people and groups have agreed to endorse

  1. Agora Society
  2. Aliran
  3. Association of Toy Libraries Malaysia
  4. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
  5. Baramkini
  6. Blindspot
  7. Childline Malaysia, MCTF
  8. Child Development Initiative Malaysia
  9. Citizens’ Health Initiative
  10. Concerned Citizens’ Group
  11. El Shaddai
  12. Federation of Reproductive Health Associations Malaysia (FRHAM)
  13. Foreign Spouses Support Group (FSSG)
  14. Gabungan Pembebasan Akademik
  15. G25 Malaysia
  16. Health Equity Initiatives
  17. Jaringan Raykat Tertindas (JERIT)
  18. Komrad Borneo
  19. Kuliah Buku (KUBU)
  20. Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA)
  21. Malaysian Council for Child Welfare
  22. Malaysian Hindu Youth Council
  23. Malaysian Dravidian Association
  24. Malaysia Muda
  25. Malaysia Rare Disorders Society
  26. Marhaen Institute
  27. Myskills Foundation (MSF)
  28. Parti Murbah
  29. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita
  30. Parti Socialis Malaysia (PSM)
  31. Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (KOMAS)
  32. Sabah Women Action Resource Group
  33. Sahabat Rakyat (SR)
  34. SAVE Rivers
  35. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia
  36. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
  37. Sunflower Electoral Education Movement (SEED)
  38. Tenaganita
  39. Women Development Organisation Malaysia
  40. Yayasan Chow Kit (YCK)

and by:

  1. Tan Sri Hasmy Agam
  2. Prof. Emeritus Chan Chee Khoon
  3. Datin P. H. Wong
  4. Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
  5. Datin Dr. Lim Swee Im
  6. Dato’ Dr. Narimah Mat Awin
  7. Dr. Aaron Fernandez
  8. Mr. Anil Netto
  9. Dr. Chee Heng Leng
  10. Mr. Choo Seow Theang
  11. Dr. David Quek
  12. Mr. Henry Loh Kee Wey
  13. Ms. Ho Yock Lin
  14. Ms. Irene Xavier
  15. Mr. Jeremy Kwan
  16. Mr. Joseph Paul Maliamauv
  17. Ms. Josie M. Fernandez
  18. Ms. Katrina Maliamauv
  19. Mr. Lee Kek Siong  
  20. Dr. Mary Cardosa
  21. Ms. Mary Shanthi Dairiam
  22. Mr. Mohd Nasir
  23. Mr. Muhammad Sha’ani b. Abdullah
  24. Ms. Nisha Subanayagam
  25. Ms. Noor Farida Ariffin
  26. Mr. Ng Kian Nam
  27. Dr. Patricia Martinez
  28. Dr. Prema Devaraj
  29. Dr. Raj Karim
  30. Ms. Ramani Gurusamy
  31. Dato Dr. Ronald McCoy
  32. Ms. Sarasvathy Muthu
  33. Dr. Sharifah Munirah Alatas
  34. Ms. Sharmila Sekaran
  35. Dr. Subramaniam Pillai
  36. Dr. Syed Husin Ali
  37. Dr. Tan Ai Mei
  38. Ms. Tham Hui Ying
  39. Dr. Tium Ling Ta
  40. Dr. TK Wong
  41. Dr. Toh Kin Woon
  42. Dr. Uma Devi Palanisamy
  43. Dr. Wan Namaziah
  44. Mr. Wee Soon Cheng
  45. Ms. Wong Mei Lee
  46. Ms. Yap Sook Yee
  47. Ms. Yeong Moh Foong