Cabinet Committee on JE should now be called Cabinet Committee on Nipah virus and government should learn the bitter lesson of how  another   avoidable national disaster could have been averted and some 100 lives lost if there had been no censorship of information of the viral outbreak

Media Statement 
- before departing for Brussels to attend the Inter-Parliamentary Union Human Rights Committee meeting
by Lim Kit Siang  

(KLIA, Sunday): Now that the Hendra-kind  killer virus has  been named the Nipah virus, the Cabinet Committee on JE should immediately be renamed the Cabinet Committee on Nipah virus as to end the fiction that the country was fighting th JE virus rather than the new Nipah virus.

The country, and in particular the victims of the worst virus outbreak disaster in the nation's history, should be spared the theatrics of government leaders claiming that it had won the war against the JE virus, when the killer virus enemy had never been the JE virus and the'battleground' is strewn with the corpses of Nipah virus victims!

The Health Ministry in particular and the government as a whole should once and for all learn another bitter lesson of how an avoidable national disaster could have been averted and some 100 lives lost if the government had not imposed censorship on information of the real nature of the viral outbreak in the country.

Even now, the government wants to maintain the fiction that it had valiantly and successful fought and won the battle against the JE virus, when the battle in the worst viral outbreak disaster in the nation's history had never been the JE virus but the Hendra-like Nipah virus.

In fact, in the misdiagnosis, mishandling and mistreatment of the worst virus outbreak epidemic, the authorities had wasted scarce government resources in applying a wrong strategy, resulting in the avoidable losses of some l00 lives and the collapse of the RM2.5
billion pig-rearing and pork industries.

Even now, the people are not being told the whole truth.  In the past few months, the people were told to focus on the JE virus and the culex mosquito which is the sole transmission agent, when attention should have zeroed in on a new killer virus which unlike the JE virus, was not mosquito-borne and was also killing pigs.

In fact, up to now, the authorities have still suppressed the important fact that during the virus outbreak, there were many so-called JE patients who became ill about seven to 14 days after unusually large numbers of pigs - more than 10 times the normal death rate of pigs - in the surrounding areas had died.

This information was reported in the media in the neighbouring countries but not in Malaysia.  Can the Health Minister, Datuk Chua Jui Meng justify this disastrous censorship on information about the real nature of the viral attack - which would have otherwise spared over 90 per cent of the lives that have been lost to the Nipah virus.

If the pig-rearing industry had been alerted to the fact that it was not JE virus but another Hendra-like virus which was wreaking the havoc, there would have been no need for the mass destruction of one million pigs, let alone the mass vaccination of human beings and pigs against JE, as preventive action could have easily been taken by the pig-farmers, particularly as the authorities said the best counter to the Nipah virus outbreak are soap and detergents!

It is definitely better to let the manufacturers and agents for soap and detergents to strike a fortune than to cripple the pig-rearing industry involving the livelihood of 300,000 people and death of some 100 people.

Further, the soldiers would not have been exposed to the risk of the Nipah virus, as there are disturbing reports of soliders involved in the mass destruction of pigs operation coming down with the Nipah encephalitis.


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong