DAP calls on Cabinet to live up to the motto of a caring government and to give RM200 to RM250 compensation each for the one million pigs destroyed during the Nipah virus epidemic

- Committee stage of the Second 1999 Supplementary Estimates on the Ministry of Agriculture
Lim Kit Siang 

(Dewan Rakyat, Monday):  The Agriculture Ministry  is  clearly still suffering from a denial syndrome, in coming to Parliament to ask for a RM7.5 million as supplementary vote for vaccine for Japanese encephalitis (JE) outbreak and related expenditures, when everybody knows that the worst viral epidemic which killed over 100 people and crippled the pig-rearing industry was not JE but the new Nipah virus.

It is most shocking that the Ministry of Agriculture should still be talking about the JE virus outbreak when everybody knows that it is not JE but Nipah virus outbreak.

In fact, in technical papers to international conferences, Agriculture Ministry officials have admitted that the government had made a mistake in misdiagnosing the viral outbreak as JE and there is admission that the Nipah virus outbreak in the country c could have gone back as far as 1997.

There is a world of difference between the JE and Nipah virus outbreaks – the JE virus, for instance, would not kill pigs and it is mosquito-borne.  JE vaccine are therefore completely useless as far as fighting the Nipah virus is concerned.

As a result of the government’s misdiagnosis, mistreatment and mishandling of the Nipah virus outbreak, a lot of avoidable pain, suffering, deaths and financial losses had been incurred – costing over 100 lives and over a million pigs destroyed.  In Penang,  some 33,000 pigs were destroyed between May and July.

However, the RM50 compensation per pig offered by the government is too paltry and  the DAP calls on the Cabinet to live up to the motto of a caring government by giving from RM200 to RM250 compensation for per pig destroyed.  In the United Kingdom, billions of sterling pounds were compensated to the farmers as a result of the destruction of the infected animals in the "mad cow" disease outbreak.

It is most unfortunate that the MCA General Assembly last weekend dared not give concrete proposals as to how to give justice to the pig farmers, such as paying a fair compensation of RM200 to RM250 per pig and the institution of a RM400 million credit facility to enable the pig rearing industry to get back on its feet, although it adopted a vague resolution asking the government to "rehabilitate" the industry.

The Negri Sembilan Livestock Association at its meeting on 10th July 1999 passed four resolutions, asking for

I have repeatedly called for a RM700 to RM750 million government compensation scheme to deal with the Nipah virus-induced pig rearing industry disaster, comprising RM250 million as compensation for the destruction of the million pigs, RM400 million credit facility for the pig farmers to restart their industry, RM100 million as compensation to the over 100 victims of the viral outbreak who lost their lives as well as  losses incurred by other victims.


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