Sime Darby has decided to drop its bid to purchase 51% of Institut Jantung Negara, a decision welcomed by every Malaysian I know.
It was a non-starter, a no-brainer. Like I said in my earlier posting, IJN is literally close to the hearts of every Malaysian who lived through the days of its inception in 1992. It saved the lives of millions of Malaysians including former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the Malay Rulers, community leaders, the civil servants and the poor.
The proposal to takeover IJN was a fatal miscalculation on the part of Sime Darby. Why IJN? It is doing well on its own. If Sime Darby's intention is noble and if it "can provide affordable healthcare to the poor", then it should take over every district hospital in the country.
Perhaps, given Sime Darby's sheer size, deep pocket and influence in the Government, it thought it could move mountains. But how wrong it was.
Now, Sime Darby is left with a deep visible scar, an irreversible damage to its reputation. It is now known all over the world as a parasite organisation the bloggers dislike. I know that some bloggers and writers wanted to go to the extent of calling for a boycott of Sime Darby products, a move I didn't agree with simply because Sime Darby is a Malaysian company, a GLC at that.
The damage control is going to be tough. It is going to take many years for Sime Darby and its leaders, especially Chairman Tun Musa Hitam and President Dato' Seri Ahmad Zubir Murshid to regain their reputation and the people's respect.
The people lost their respect for Sime Darby simply because it insulted their intelligence by saying that the privatised IJN will continue to provide affordable service for the poor. Service, perhaps, but affordable?
It simply doesn't make sense. A vast majority of IJN patients are poor, tens of thousands of them, and civil servants who are entitled for free treatment. It doesn't fit the equation.
If the 24-year-old Sime Darby-owned Subang Jaya Medical Centre had a good record for helping the poor, then Sime Darby would have had something to show. Unfortunately, it doesn't.