Cabinet tomorrow should approve a RM1 billion financial package to make amends for the official  neglect and indifference to the  government-made Nipah virus catastrophe in the pig-rearing industry

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Tuesday): The Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the JE Virus  Cabinet Committee, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi made a very brief visit to Bukit Pelanduk, the worst-hit  area during the Nipah virus catastrophe, two nights ago.

The very fact that Abdullah never visited Bukit Pelanduk during the height of the disaster  last year, although it destroyed the billion-ringgit pig-rearing industry, culled over a million pigs and killed more than 100 people,  and only made his first visit when there is a  by-election, is a sad commentary on the misplaced  priority of government leaders - who regard getting votes more important than ensuring that justice is done to the victims of the Nipah virus catastrophe.

I had said in Parliament last year that the Nipah virus catastrophe was completely unnecessary and avoidable if the Health Minister and the government had been alert, competent and efficient and had learnt the right lessons from the first Nipah virus outbreak in Perak in October/November 1998 and heeded the advice of local experts.

For this reason, DAP MPs had demanded in the previous Parliament that the government should bear full responsibility for the Nipah virus catastrophe.  In Parliament last May, I had called for a billion-ringgit government financial package to compensate and rescue the pig-rearing industry, and I call on the Cabinet at its meeting tomorrow to give final approval for such a billion-ringgit financial plan to make amends for the official neglect and indifference to the government-made Nipah virus catastrophe in the pig-rearing industry.  The billion-ringgit financial package should comprise  the following elements:

  1. RM250 million as compensation for the one million pigs destroyed at RM250 per pig.
  2. RM500 million low-interest credit facility for the pig-rearing industry to get on its feet again.
  3. RM200 million compensation to the villagers, whether Chinese, Malays or Indians,  who suffered financial hardships  or suffered economic losses during the catastrophe, whether as a result of forced evacuation from their homes or workplace or destruction of their other livestocks.
  4. RM50 million as compensation to the families of some 110 victims of the Nipah virus catastrophe who had lost their lives.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman