9Bio: Waste of funds or adding value?

•January 12, 2009 • 1 Comment


By Karamjit Singh

The week of January 12, 2009
The chapter on Harnessing Science, Technology and Innovation in the Ninth Malaysia Plan says the development thrust for the 2006 to 2010 period will be to harness science, technology and innovation to raise the nation’s capacity to acquire and utilize knowledge and foster innovation.

As with all blueprints and government action plans, the words used are action-oriented and forward-looking, but like many government intentions, the action statements are seldom worth the paper they are printed on. A classic example is the inaction and unproductive activity at Ninebio Sdn Bhd (9Bio), a wholly-owned company of the government.

On the website, http://www.ninebio.com, the company says it will focus on the R&D of vaccines, biologics and natural products and services. The brains behind the idea – the people in the Ministry of Health (MOH) who launched it as the 7th National Institute of Health in 2003 – felt that it was important to take a cluster approach to this, where a centre of excellence will be built to gather all the experts on vaccines, biologics and natural products in one place.

This approach, while fine on paper and doable elsewhere, especially in the Silicon Valley, is unlikely to work in Malaysia yet, where the research and academic culture is not one of openness and sharing. That is the opinion of Prof Dr Abdul Latif Ibrahim (formerly the managing director of the National Biotechnology Directorate), who is now senior professor and director of BIO-IT Centre Selangor, Unisel. According to Abdul Latif, throughout his career, he has observed two main challenges in this area. “Firstly, our academics are reluctant to work together across universities as there is a lot of competition and even jealousy among them. Secondly, we do a poor job of sharing facilities at our universities with outsiders, be they from industry or other universities. The fear here seems to be that with inexperienced people using expensive hardware, equipment will get damaged. As a result, the high-tech facilities in our universities are frequently under-utilised and that is a real shame.”

While Abdul Latif does not know enough about 9Bio’s plans, he hopes it can overcome these issues.

Whatever the approach and however grand its vision and mission statement, the project has gone nowhere in the last five (5) years, beyond changing its name to the Malaysian National Institute for Natural Products, Vaccines and Biologicals, signing a joint-venture with an American vaccine maker and having the Ministry of Finance step in to take over when MoH could not solve the issues surrounding 9Bio.

Interestingly, not many in the biotechnology industry seem to know what 9Bio is doing. “It will make absolutely no difference to the biotech sector if 9Bio just disappeared,” says one entrepreneur.

Apparently, 9Bio started out with only one person – its then CEO Datuk Dr Nor Shahidah Khairullah. She was removed in May last year and a new CEO – Prof Dr Mohd Azmi Mohd Lila – was appointed last week. Mohd Azmi is an ex-academic from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), who until last year was director of investment at Malaysian Technology Development Corp, handling the biotech and life sciences area. He also served as the director of the Institute of Bioscience while at UPM.

Mohd Azmi did not return messages left on his mobile phone to comment on his mandate at 9Bio.

At the same time, 9Bio’s current chairman, Datuk Ir Dr Mukundan Sugunan Pillay – a retired deputy director-general of health (research and technical support) with MoH – who replaced Tan Sri Aseh Che Mat (now the chairman of Pos Malaysia Bhd) on July 15 last year is himself to be replaced by Raja Datuk Zaharaton Raja Zainal Abidin, the ex-chairman of Technology Park Malaysia. Efforts to reach the latter were unsuccessful.

While 9Bio has not done much since its inception, there is intrique over the departure of Nor, but she has declined to meet The Edge to give her side of the story. Those who have interacted with her say she is a very capable, ambitious and smart woman, but she also tends to step on toes when she does not get her way. At some point, MoH appointed a COO – Izam Yusuf – who was with KUB Malaysia Bhd before joining 9Bio.

9Bio’s only significant achievement was to get the recognition of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) as a key centre for halal vaccinations. This happened in December 2007 in Kuala Lumpur.

The new CEO will have everything to do when he comes in because even 9Bio’s existing  staff are hoping he will provide them with a clear direction and strategy. This is amazing considering the company has been around for five years. A leading player in the biotech sector says it is urgent for Azmi to draw up a proper business plan for 9Bio, indicating where it will fit in the existing value chain in Malaysia. He feels 9Bio should not replicate infrastructure that already exists in various universities in the country but identify which players in the ecosystem it needs to work with and how it can complement and enhance the ecosystem.

Critics cite the plan to spend RM1.2 billion on its centre in Enstek Park in Nilai, Negri Sembilan, as a classic example of how money is thrown at a problem without honest assessment of the core challenges – as mentioned earlier by Abdul Latif – and addressing the more critical human capital issues.

Mohd Azmi and Raja Datuk Zaharaton  indeed have a lot on their plate when they get to work this week, beginning with what they actually plan to do and how it will add value to the biotech ecosystem in Malaysia, and then defending the RM1.2 billion structure coming up in Nilai.

Background history!


IJN scandal ended!

•January 7, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Wednesday January 7, 2009



Sime Darby cancels IJN takeover bid


PETALING JAYA: Sime Darby Bhd has called off its bid to buy a majority stake in the National Heart Institute (IJN).

The company said the decision was made after taking into consideration public sentiment and feedback on the takeover plan since the Government announced that it had deferred its decision to allow Sime Darby to begin negotiations with the Finance Ministry to take a 51% stake in IJN.

“The company wishes to announce that it will not pursue its plan to acquire an equity stake in IJN,” the company said in a statement to Bursa Malaysia.

“The company, nevertheless, will continue to look for opportunities for expansion in the health-care sector.”

Sime Darby first proposed to buy a 51% stake in IJN on Dec 17 after sending its offer to the Government.

On Dec 19, the Government announced its decision to defer negotiations.

Malaysian Medical Association president Datuk Dr Khoo Kah Lin said the decision by the conglomerate showed that it was sensitive to the wishes of the people.

“I hope no more private firms will approach the Government to purchase a majority stake in any essential
services run by the Government,” he said.

He said the cost of any essential government medical services was bound to increase once taken over by private companies.

“Although they said they would keep prices low for patients, eventually they would have to listen to the shareholders,” he added.

Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Sahan, the first chairman of IJN, said he was “very happy” over Sime Darby’s decision.

“I am glad that they are aware of not only the public’s sentiment but those who are still working at the institute. The ownership should remain untouched,” he said.

Abdul Khalid added that the Government should now find ways to improve the institute’s infrastructure by setting up branches in the east coast, Sabah and Sarawak so that there would be easier access to treatment.

“At the moment, IJN performs about eight to 10 open heart surgeries every day. But with branches, this number could increase,” he said.

IJN doctors: Correcting statements. Why?

•December 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment


Published: Friday December 19, 2008 MYT 3:22:00 PM
Updated: Friday December 19, 2008 MYT 8:11:07 PM

IJN doctors: Don’t make us scapegoats (Updated)

PETALING JAYA: National Heart Institute (IJN) doctors are happy to serve the institute in its present form and do not want to be made a scapegoat in the proposed privatisation of the institutue.

In a statement signed by 33 of the 35 medical consultants working for IJN, they stressed that the proposed privatisation was not a response towards their demands for better pay.

“We would like to reiterate our commitment to serve IJN in its current form and want to stress that the move must not be seen as a response to our demands for better pay,” it said.

The doctors added that the medical personnel were not at all involved in the negotiations for the proposed takeover.

The full statement from IJN medical consultants
“We read with concern the perceived perception that the medical staff of IJN are demanding higher pay and will leave IJN if these demands are not met.

We feel it is important that these negative perceptions are correctly put into context.

The institution was set up in 1992 as a corporate body directly under the purview of Ministry of Finance. Its board of Directors include representatives from Ministry of Health and MOF to ensure its direction and objectives of providing good quality and affordable medical care to Malaysians from all walks of life are adhered to.

In that respect, IJN has done and continue to do well, both in maintaining its moral as well as financial obligations. The institution has been self-sustaining since its inception (and has been able to pay year end bonuses annually without fail). For 2007 and up to end Nov 2008, we have accumulated 285,764 number of outpatients, performed 15,084 cardiac catheterization interventions including angiograms and angioplasties, 6094 heart and lung surgeries, 7 mechanical hearts and heart and lung transplants surgeries.

As true with any organization of our size, there will be people leaving the organization at various times in order to pursue different career paths. Over the last 7 years of operation, out of a total of 35 consultants, only 7 have left IJN to work either in local or overseas private centres. Therefore, our consultants’ annual attrition rate is only 3%, and we have responded consistently over time to promote our home grown talents to fill up the voids accordingly. Currently, 75% of IJN consultants have been in their posts for more than 10 years.

All of us are salaried based on a different payscale than that of the MOH though not at par with the private centres. Periodic review of salary scale is usually undertaken, subject to approval from Ministry of Finance.

As proven from our consultants’ attrition rate and longevity in serving this institution, it is logical to surmise that on the whole we are happy with the current scheme and proving it by remaining with IJN. Many of us has served more than 10 years, excluding time spent within the MOH Hospitals prior to setting up of IJN.

Whilst we have yet to have a clear picture of the proposed privatization by Sime Darby, we would like to reiterate our commitment to serve IJN in its current form and want to stress that the proposed privatization of IJN must not be seen to be as a response to our demands for better pay. The medical personnel of IJN are not at all involved, directly or otherwise, in the negotiations for the said privatization.

Being responsible employees of IJN, we are not in the position to dictate the outcome of the privatization proposal from Sime Darby to the stakeholders of IJN. However, the perception that the privatization proposal is in response to demands for higher remunerations by its medical staff is misconceived and must be corrected accordingly to safeguard and preserve the trust placed upon us by our patients.”

Based on this official statements by IJN doctors, we have concluded that the culprit must be the IJN Chairman, Datuk Dr. Mohamad Salleh Ismail (Datuk Shahrizat Jalil’s husband). The idiot that hard up to be part of Sime Darby Berhad. He should be sacked immediately for IJN scandal. Not fit to be the Chairman of IJN. This guy cannot be TRUSTED! Get rid of him.

Read on…..

RM250m: National Feedlot Corporation Sdn Bhd under investigation!

Who is the culprit responsible for IJN privatisation?

•December 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment


Any privatisation project will normally takes time for proper evaluation by respective government agencies such as Economic Planning Unit, EPU, Ministry Of Finance, MOF and Ministry of Health, MOH (IJN). This time round, it seems well coordinated, too smooth and too efficient.

Who is behind it?

Who initiated the stupid idea?

Why Najib and MOH Minister so quick to support?

Why SIME DARBY was quick to provide assurance it will maintain the fee structure of IJN to ensure the middle class and poor patients still get the same treatment?

Why PM was quick to announce allowing private sector to take over IJN?

Based on the facts, personalities and rapid development of IJN privatisation, we can safely concluded that insiders from IJN Chairman (Dato Dr Salleh, Sharizat Jalil’s husband), Sime Darby Chairman (Tun Musa Hitam), MOH (Minister, KSU & DG) , MOF (Najib) and EPU (Pak Lah) were involved.

Could this be the scandal and the downfall of highly respected leaders and the BN government? Anybody in the right mind would not disturb an organisation that is running well and close at heart to the RAKYAT. Life saving entity like IJN is not for sale. If the government wish to illustrate the CARING and MESRA RAKYAT message, then DO NOT TOUCH IJN. Why now? That is the 1 billion dollar question!

We will investigate!!!

Less discretionary power for KSU and DG MOH: DPM

•December 17, 2008 • Leave a Comment


Published: Tuesday December 16, 2008 MYT 12:32:00 PM

Less discretionary power in public sector: DPM



PUTRAJAYA: The Government wants less use of discretionary authority among officials in the public sector as this will deter corrupt practices, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

For instance, allowing competitive bidding for tenders and contracts would reduce the use of such authority by officials, the Deputy Prime Minister said, thus reducing the opportunity for corruption.

“This will certainly help efforts put in by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to ensure that integrity is alive and well in Malaysia, not just in the civil service,” he said.

This was among six points outlined by Najib on what civil servants, particularly Finance Ministry staff, could do to ensure a well-oiled government machinery so that the country could progress and its economy could continue to grow.

Speaking at the Treasury’s quality day celebration, the Finance Minister said strengthening intellectual capital among staff was important as expertise and knowledge in economic and financial management would help the government make “right and timely decisions.”

“The ministry and its staff need to be efficient. As a central agency that serves other ministries and agencies, our efficiency will result in others being efficient.

“Even I remind myself that I too play a role in the process of efficiency,” he said.

Najib said the ministry needed to come up with creative and innovative solutions because in today’s challenging world, the ability to be innovative was crucial.

“It is also our responsibility to ensure that every ringgit spent is worth the spending and will benefit the Government and the rakyat (citizenry),” he said.

The Finance Minister said next year would be a challenging one for everyone at the Treasury as the rakyat placed high hopes on the Government to ensure they would not be burdened by the effects of a domestic and global economic slowdown.

He said it was the ministry’s responsibility to ensure programmes outlined by the Government were implemented, such as ensuring a high level of domestic demand and sufficient liquidity in the banking sector.

It was his ministry’s responsibility as well to ensure that programmes that were part of the economic stimulus package went according to schedule, he added.

Anti-Corruption Commission can go after ‘The Money Making team’

•December 13, 2008 • Leave a Comment


Thursday December 11, 2008

Anti-graft commission goes into action on Jan 1


THE Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Bill 2008, which was tabled by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for first reading, will come into force on Jan 1.

The Bill, modelled after the Independent Commission Against Corruption of Hong Kong, replaces the Anti-Corruption Agency Act 1997.

Under the new law, the ACA director-general would be called Chief Commissioner and he would have powers of a Deputy Public Prosecutor.

A prosecution for an offence under the Act shall be instituted only by and with consent of the Public Prosecutor.

Other new features of the Bill are the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board, the Special Committee on Corruption, and the Complaints Committee.

The MACC shall be advised by a seven-member Anti-Corruption Advisory Board who are appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the Prime Minister.

The appointed members, who will serve for a three-year term, will be persons of integrity and who had rendered distinguished public services and will not hold office for over two terms either continuously or otherwise. The board will advice the commission on corruption in Malaysia including its eradication policies and strategies.

The Special Committee on Corruption will advise the Prime Minister on corruption in the country and its seven members, also appointed by the King, will not be members of the administration but be drawn from the Senate and the House of Repre-sentatives.

It will monitor complaints of non-criminal misconduct against MACC officers, identify weaknesses in work procedures and make recommendations to rectify them.

The Complaints Committee will have five members.

Little Napoleon: Tiada cadangan beri ganjaran kepada pengadu

•November 26, 2008 • 1 Comment


KUALA LUMPUR 25 Nov. – Kerajaan masih belum bercadang memberi ganjaran kepada mereka yang mengemukakan aduan berhubung kakitangan perkhidmatan awam yang cerewet, suka menunjukkan kuasa dan berlagak seperti Little Napoleon.

Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi berkata, perkara itu tidak perlu dibuat kerana kerajaan telah melaksanakan pelbagai tindakan lain bagi mensifarkan isu Little Napoleon di dalam jentera pentadbiran kerajaan.


“Tindakan ini berteraskan kepada penerapan dan penghayatan prinsip-prinsip tadbir urus yang

baik di dalam amalan-amalan pentadbiran,” katanya dalam jawapan bertulis kepada soalan Hamim Samuri (BN-Ledang) pada sidang Dewan Rakyat hari ini.

Hamim ingin tahu kemajuan terhadap usaha kerajaan bagi membersihkan pentadbiran awam daripada Little Napoleon setelah isu itu dibangkitkan oleh Abdullah pada 14 April lalu.

Perdana Menteri berkata, langkah bagi menangani isu itu melibatkan penubuhan Pasukan Petugas Mengurangkan Kerenah Birokrasi di peringkat kementerian-kementerian pada tahun 2003.

“Ia bertujuan mengurangkan kerenah birokrasi dan meningkatkan sistem penyampaian perkhidmatan awam serta mengurangkan peluang untuk kakitangan melakukan penyelewengan,” katanya.

Katanya, usaha itu turut diperkukuhkan dengan penggubalan dan pelaksanaan Pelan Integriti Nasional pada tahun 2004 dan arahan supaya semua ketua agensi mengadakan Mesyuarat Jawatankuasa Tadbir Urus setiap tiga bulan mulai Mac 2007.