More sup­port needed for the third pil­lar

The Star Malaysia - - Views - DR JOHN TEO Kota Kinabalu

I READ with great en­cour­age­ment about Datuk Seri Dr Wan Az­izah’s re­cent call for pri­vate med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers to con­trib­ute their time, ef­fort and re­sources to non­state ac­tors, oth­er­wise known as the third pil­lar or NGOs and as­so­ci­ated en­ti­ties.

It’s high time the gov­ern­ment recog­nises the crit­i­cal role of the third pil­lar in serv­ing the marginalised, un­der­served and less for­tu­nate in our so­ci­ety. Many of th­ese com­mu­ni­ties and groups are those who have dif­fi­cul­ties ac­cess­ing stan­dard gov­ern­men­tal ser­vices due to var­i­ous rea­sons, among them eco­nomic, ge­o­graphic, re­li­gious, psy­cho­log­i­cal and even leg­isla­tive.

With the con­cept of “leave no one be­hind”, the crit­i­cal roles played by 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 have con­trib­uted al­most a ma­jor part of their ca­reers to them,

What is very frus­trat­ing and sad to note over the last few decades is that many NGOs have ex­pe­ri­enced a 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 role due to fi­nan­cial con­straints, com­plex and chal­leng­ing gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions in ar­eas where they op­er­ate and some even face di­rect com­pe­ti­tion from gov­ern­men­tal agen­cies rather than col­lab­o­ra­tions. Some even have their roles 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 aid, 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 Women & Fam­ily De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter to per­son­ally take 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.

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