Open letter to Dr Wan Azizah — Dr John Teo

SEPTEMBER 16 — Dear Dr Wan Azizah, 

I read with great encouragement your recent call for Private Medical Practitioners to contribute their time, effort and resources to Non-State Actors otherwise known as “the third pillar” or NGOs and associated entities.

It’s high time the Government recognises the role of the “third pillar” and the critical role they play in serving the marginalised, underserved and the less fortunate in our society.

Many of these communities and groups they serve are those who have difficulty accessing standard governmental services due to various reasons, among them economic, geographic, religious, psychological and even legislative. 

With the concept of “leaving no one behind”, these critical roles of NGOs must be enhanced, supported and even moulded as mainstream institutions.

The truth is that many private medical practitioners do contribute continuously and significantly to these NGOs due to less red tape and more flexibility in their participations. Many are also leaders in these organisations and had contributed almost a major part of their careers to these organisations (if you Google the past and present Exco of these organisations).

What is very frustrating and sad to note is that over the last few decades, many NGOs have decreasing role and impact upon the communities or groups they strive to support. Many lack funding or support and cling on to miniscule international and local aids. Many face difficulties in expanding their roles due to financial constraints, complex and challenging government regulations in areas where they operate and some even face direct competitions from governmental agencies rather than collaborations. Some even have their role questioned by those in authority.

As we move towards a modern democratic and vibrant society, it must be accepted that the diversity of this Nation is better served when the Non-state Actors are also truly supported by the Government of the day with aids, reduction of red tape, more NGO-friendly policies and the political will to truly establish and strengthen the third pillar.

I appeal to Dr Wan Azizah as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Women & Family Development to personally take the proactive steps and leadership to enshrine permanently the institution of the third force in this beloved country of ours as we celebrate Malaysia Day today.

* Dr John Teo lives in and practises medicine in Kota Kinabalu.

**This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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