BY: NURUL IZZAH ANWAR
My priority for the parliamentary session which will start tomorrow is to bring to the attention of members of parliament, particularly those in the government, issues concerning higher education and health which are the heart of society.
As everyone already knows, I am a local university graduate and my mother had also served at the University Malaya Medical Centre for 14 years. We are proud of the achievements of local universities such as University Malaya.
Why not, when local universities such as UM and UPM have made names for themselves by getting into the list of the 300 best universities in the world based on Quacquarelli Symonds’s (QS) for year 2016/2017.
However, I am worried that the cuts in budgets will affect local universities’ achievements. I am also very concerned that the following issues might happen as a result of this.
I am worried that the budget cuts will cause universities and colleges to neglect on maintenance.
This is not yet including public transport and cleaning management. Indirectly, infrastructure development is important, especially sophisticated scientific equipment which will affect education in the country.
I am concerned that the cuts will affect the lecturers themselves when many equipment for academic purposes cannot be upgraded.
In fact, Berita Harian today reported that 6,000 lecturers have been laid off since 2016.
For students, especially for post-graduates, their fees will increase and cuts in scholarships will directly impact the students.
In the health sector, government need to implement specific changes, with additional fund for health in the 2017 budget, in access to medical treatments and hospitals’ infrastructures.
Citizens’ dependency on the government in the health sector is increasing.
Cutting the budget for pharmaceutical and medical supplies will make it hard for citizens to get access to medicines when cost of living is increasing at the same time.
In fact, government pensioners’ welfare for medical treatments have been reduced in early 2017. I am worried that citizens’ health will become chronic in the future due to nil support from the government especially for those requiring more serious medical treatments.
The incident that happened at the Sultanah Aminah Hospital was a clear message that medical facilities and infrastructures, particularly hospitals, need to be upgraded.
This is to enhance the level of safety and comfort for citizens seeking treatments. Beds in public hospitals need to be added in view of the increasing number of patients getting treatments.
Therefore, although I am on the opposition side, I am compelled to ensure that there is check and balance process for the future of the generation who are entering the workforce.
A caring government would surely want its citizens to prosper through a high-quality standard of living.
Knowledge and the degree earned through an international-quality education system can guarantee a bright future.
In summary, what we are witnessing in the universities and hospitals are worrying.
Hence, I shall bring these issues to the parliament with the hope that the government will take note and take the necessary action to address the problems arising from the budget cuts.
So, we shall together pray for the best for Malaysians in this parliamentary session. Hopefully my voice, representing those who want a better Malaysia, will be impactful and bring the change.
*Nurul Izzah Anwar is the Lembah Pantai Member of Parliament & KEADILAN Deputy President and Election Director
Focus on higher education and health
BY: NURUL IZZAH ANWAR