Dear Minister Anthony Loke,
I hear your speech today regarding the Commercial Driver’s Examination Medical Charges and the key points that was mentioned were:
a) protection of consumers.
b) there were clinics charging less before down to as low RM30 or RM40 for example.
c) now because the form was printed RM80, all clinics are now charging that which is not meant to be.
If I may go point by point, first we must protect consumers which I fully agree.
On the other hand, don’t we want to protect the lives of the public using our roads? Don’t we want to make sure that all the innocent victims going about in their daily routines that were killed or maimed permanently due to unfit drivers be avoided? Don’t we want to make sure that drivers who are not fit, can’t see properly, burdened by diseases or drug use do not continue to be a source of public danger?
Malaysia has the third highest fatality rate from road traffic accidents in Asia and Asean, behind Thailand and Vietnam.
The Global Status Report on Road Safety published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank in December 2018 reported that Malaysia had 7,152 deaths in 2016. In addition there are many more accidents that result in permanent disabilities, affecting the lives of those involved and their families, many times for the worse.
How do we explain to those families whose loved ones are forever lost or injured permanently that some drivers have eyesight problems or psychiatric problems etc that were missed by the medical examiners because they are not able to do a complete and thorough examination? Don’t we want to protect all Malaysians on the road with already the thousands of accidents that happened daily?
It is true that there are clinics that charged less even to the tune of RM8, but do you really think that for a 30-minute thorough history and examination that involves nine pages of form by a doctor who had gone through six years of medical school, and another five to six years of training, that RM30 or RM40 is sustainable for any doctor to run an even basic quality service?
Or is it quality and thorough examination is not the priority here, but slipshod cursory examination acceptable when we are dealing with people’s lives?
Please tell me what fees do you think the examiner should be paid?
Finally, the RM80 wasn’t really plucked from thin air. It was with careful consideration of the work, time, efforts and training required to do a thorough complete examination, making sure that all drivers passed are fit to drive and posing the least danger to the public on the road. In addition, it’s also aiming to be the most consumer friendly price that is sustainable.
It’s also a fee that allows the doctors to be sustainable in their practice. GPs don’t live on air and water only, and neither do their staff unfortunately.
So respected Minister, I appeal that you do the right thing, maintain the appropriate charges so doctors can continue to provide a high quality service making the lives of every Malaysian on the road as safe as possible.
Dr John Teo is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
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