What I heard from Vyjanthimala Kathan, 34, Raja’s widow housewife who is now left to fend for her three children, about the sufferings Raja went through in the two months after the first appendicitis operation in Selayang Hospital is so appalling that it must be heard to be believed.
On Saturday, I had castigated the Health Minister, Datuk Chua Jui Meng for his outrageous insensitivity over Raja’s death, for while saying that he was sorry to hear of Raja’s death, he also dismissed Raja’s death as inconsequential, "file closed" and would not affect public confidence in general hospitals, stating: "There are deaths in our hospitals every day".
Chua would surely not make such a callous statement if the victim was not a despatch rider but a Cabinet Minister or a VIP who had gone for an appendicitis operation at the RM540 million "techno-wonder" Selayang Hospital, the nation’s first paperless and filmless hospital, and ended up in the mortuary!
But I was even more appalled by Chua’s insensitivity as well as the insensitivity of Barisan Nasional MPs from the accounts given to me by Vyjanthimala yesterday.
Raja was told after his first appendicits operation on May 7, 2000, that his small intestine had been accidentally cut off, thus starting his tragedy of having to undergo four more operations when the rejoining of the small intestine gave way, keeping him hospitalised at Selayang Hospital since his second admission on May 16 and in the latter part of the stay mostly in a state of delirium.
On 7th July 2000, Malay Mail carried a report on Raja’s tragedy entitled "’Surgery gone wrong’ claim" and by-lined B. Suresh Ram.
The next day, Chua conducted Barisan Nasional MPs and State Assemblymen on a tour of the Selayang Hospital to show off the nation’s first hi-tech RM540 million hospital which has been described as a technological wonder where patients’ record are online and everyone of its 1,000-strong staff are IT-literate.
Media reports of the visit of Chua and the Barisan Nasional MPs showed photographs of Chua carrying 11-week-old baby Chong Lih Ying who together with the Selayang Hospital made medical history on May 18 in the world’s first arm transplant.
Malaysia is rightly proud of such a medical feat and the 55-member medical team which carried out the transplant, headed by Dr. V. Pathmanathan, deserve all the accolades and kudos from the nation.
However, Chua and the Barisan Nasional MPs were singularly remiss and blatantly insensitive for not visiting Raja Simmasalam in the same Selayang Hospital on 8th July although Raja, who was never bathed once in two months in hospital, was bathed three times that day to expect their visit, despite the open six-inch surgical wound which ran down the middle of his abdomen.
Two days after the visit of Chua and Barisan Nasional MPs to Selayang Hospital (but not Raja), the despatch rider lapsed into unconsciousness for three days and died.
Chua should explain why he did not visit Raja when he was in Selayang Hospital on July 8, although Raja was bathed three times that day to expect his visit, and yet he could comment on Raja’s case during the visit claiming that "everything that could have been done had been done" for Raja.
While Malaysians are proud of the Selayang Hospital’s feat in conducting the world’s first arm transplant, they are appalled by the Raja Simmasalam case, resulting from the cutting of his small intestine in an appendicitis operations and worst of all, the utter insensitivity of the Health Minister and the Barisan Nasional MPs the tragedy of the despatch-rider.
Cabinet Ministers, in particular MIC President and Works Minister, Datuk
Seri S. Samy Vellu, should have the courage and conviction to raise the
scandalous case of Raja’s two-month living death at the Selayang
Hospital at Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting to demand an explanation
from Chua why he did not visit Raja in Selayang Hospital, government
admission of liability for Raja’s death, just and fair compensation
to Raja’s family and establish a board of inquiry to ensure that
there would be no repetition of the Raja Simmasalam tragedy at the
"techno-wonder" Selayang Hospital.