When I spoke out and criticised the Minister for Health, Datuk Chua Jui Meng, for his blunders in the viral epidemic crisis management, I had done so representing the interests of the people, and in particular the suffering people and parents in Sarawak who lived in fear over the safety of the lives of their children - not because Chua Jui Meng is from the MCA and I am from the DAP.
I would have done and said the same thing in the interests of the people if similar blunders had been made by any other Health Minister, regardless of which political party he is from, whether MCA, UMNO, MIC, Gerakan or any one of the Sarawak or Sabah Barisan Nasional parties. I find it very sad that although the country is going to celebrate our 40th National Day next month, this simple democratic principle on the accountability of Ministers to the people, regardless of political party, has still to take root in the country.
I find it even sadder that such narrow political mentality had been projected internationally, contributing to the closing down of the only website in the world which keeps a close monitoring of the deadly Sarawak viral outbreak, as evidenced by the observations made by the University of Nebraska Medical Centre which made the following observations on the closure of its website:
"We have recently received email from different people suggesting that this page and its views are being used as political arguments by specific political parties in Malaysia. These correspondents have been somewhat agitated as well.
"This page was not established to support any side, nor to take part in politics, but merely to help inform and where we believed necessary, to correct misperceptions.
"We have followed these events in Malaysia as spectators, not as participants, but never as people who supported one local or national Malaysian political view over another. We personally have no interest in Malaysian politics whatsoever. However, in our estimation, this event and deaths of children should never have become a political issue. Events have shown that this is not a simple open and shut case of some infectious agent.
"Because of the views expressed in these emails to us, and because the agent involved in this event is certainly no coxsackie B virus, and due to the apparent slowing of the number of serious cases of whatever it is that has killed 31 children in Sarawak to date, we no longer see any need to keep this page posted and updated.
"The above-named websites should still serve to supply a range of information about these events for some time to come.
"We will look forward to continuing conversation with friends that we have made during this time. Cheers."
Those who have written to the University of Nebraska Medical Centre alleging that its views on its website "are being used as political arguments by specific political parties in Malaysia" have done a grave disservice to the people of Sarawak, the nation and humanity.
I have quoted the University of Nebraska Medical Centre Website views, not to use them as "political arguments" but to reinforce my argument that the Health Minister had been making misleading statements about the viral epidemic, especially with regard to his announcement that the killer virus had been identified as Coxsackie Virus B.
I have never seen the deadly virus epidemic in Sarawak as a political issue. Right from the start, the one and only one issue is how to contain the deadly virus epidemic from claiming more victims and to secure the confidence of the public and parents in Sarawak to allay their alarms and fears over the safety of their children.
It is purely incidental that the Health Minister is from the MCA and that I am from the DAP.
Right from the very beginning, there was no public problem with regard to the commitment and dedication of the medical personnel and staff who had worked beyond the ordinary calls of duty to fight the viral epidemic. The public contention which started right at the beginning is not about the commitment and dedication of the medical personnel and staff, but the mishandling and the series of public relations disasters by the Health Minister which destroyed his public credibility and undermined public confidence in the health authorities.
This has nothing to do with politics - and everything to do with a proper and efficient crisis management of a viral epidemic.
Although the deadly viral epidemic in Sarawak seems, thankfully, to have reached a terminal stage, the issue of what lessons the Health Ministry authorities can learn from the series of blunders in the important aspect of securing and maintaining public confidence in the entire crisis management of a viral epidemic is very important for future epidemics.
I will not be deterred from narrow-minded political attitudes and baseless allegations that the Sarawak viral epidemic has become a political issue from continuing to speak up on behalf of the interests of the general Malaysian public in demanding a full accounting in the crisis management of the Sarawak virus epidemic - especially as this is important, not only for Malaysia but for other countries as well in how to wage a "smart fight" against new and unknown viral epidemics.