With at least 15 dengue deaths last month alone, DAP to lodge a second report with Suhakam next Thursday on violations of press freedom and right to information in the worst dengue epidemic in nation’s history
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): DAP will lodge a second report with Suhakam next Thursday, 13th February 2003 on the violations of press freedom and the right to information in the worst dengue epidemic in the nation’s history, with the most alarming rise in the incidence of dengue cases and fatalities – instead of tomorrow, as earlier announced.
Before the Chinese New Year last Wednesday (29th January), I said that the number of death toll from dengue for the first 23 days of this year is at least 13 cases – with four cases in Ipoh, one case in Kuantan and Kota Bahru each, one case in Port Dickson, four cases in Kuala Lumpur and two cases in Johore.
I have now come across two other cases of dengue deaths in January, bringing the total of dengue fatalities to my knowledge to at least 15 for the first month of the new year. In the first case, Maruthu Pandian, 37, from Rasah Jaya, Seremban, died of dengue in the Seremban General Hospital on 23rd January after three days of hospitalization. In the second case, Chai Moy Far, 21, (f) , student at Taylor’s College, Kuala Lumpur, preparing for a medical twinning course, died of dengue on 31st January, 2003. Chai from Bahau had gone with friends on Thaipusam on 19th January to Rawang for mountain-climbing and came down with high fever after the trip. Chai went to a private clinic the next day, but when her fever did not subside and returned to the clinic, she was warded in a private hospital for four days, before she was referred to the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital, where she succumbed to dengue haemorrhage fever (DHF) on Chinese New Year’s Eve after a week’s hospitalisation.
The Sun of Thursday, January 30, 2003 carried the front-page headline “Dengue blackout – Ministry DG: Public need not know the details” for its report which quoted the Director-General of Health Tan Sri Mohamad Taha Ariff as declaring that “the public do not have the right to know the seriousness of the dengue outbreak” and that “it is not necessary for Malaysians to know any details” about incidence of dengue cases and dengue fatalities or whether Malaysia is suffering from the worst dengue epidemic in the nation’s history and which is raging on unchecked, causing more and more unnecessary and avoidable deaths.
The latest known deaths of Maruthu Pandian from Seremban and Chai Moy Far from Bahau – bringing to a total of at least 15 dengue deaths in the first month of the year - are the most powerful rebuttal of the Health Ministry’s claim that the Malaysian public have no right to know about the seriousness of the dengue outbreak. This is because the most effective way to bring the dengue epidemic under control and to end the long list of unnecessary and avoidable deaths from dengue is full, accurate and timely information to the public about the seriousness of the dengue epidemic.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman