KUCHING: The Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association (Soppoa) and Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA) Sarawak Branch have decided not to attend the briefing on ‘Skim Pelindungan Insurans Kesihatan Perkeja Asing’ (a health insurance scheme for foreign workers) on Nov 14 to protest against the implementation of the scheme in the state.
The scheme was introduced mainly to offset the outstanding unpaid hospitalisation bills which in the state amounted to over RM381,000 at the end of last year, stated Philip Ho, Soppoa’s secretary in a press statement yesterday.
“Due to the administrative problems in the collection of these debts, the industry is being made to pay outrageous premiums for insurance schemes on their workers in the plantations.
“Soppoa has made a public statement last week on the opposition to the scheme but as the health department has decided to continue implementing the scheme with the briefing session, we Soppoa and MPOA have decided not to attend the event in protest of the scheme implementation,” he stated.
In addition, the two associations had also sent a memorandum to the Minister of Health to tender their objections against the scheme.
Currently, all workmen regardless of nationalities, creeds are all covered under Workmen Compensation Insurance when in employment in the plantations.
With the current practice of having the employer company’s name on every passport of foreign workmen coming into the industry here, there is no question of the failure to identify the company of each workman seeking treatment in hospitals or clinics in the state.
Furthermore, in cases of sickness and other ailments faced by workers of plantations, companies too provide medical treatments for them.
The Ministry of Health, he said, had failed to provide the reasons for the implementation of the scheme and had also not consulted the industry prior to the implementation.
“This is akin to blackmail by the ministry on the oil palm industry here,” he stated.
The two associations requested for the ministry to reconsider the implementation of the scheme and to hold consultation with the industry for mutual benefit.
It was also learnt that Sarawak Timber Association (STA) has similarly objected to the scheme too.
Taken from The Borneo Post