Sixth email and seventh question to Khir Toyo on the worst dengue
epidemic in Selangor state - why lives of Malaysians in Selangor had been
sacrificed in the name of the 13th NAM Summit
by Lim Kit Siang
Sunday): In my sixth email and
seventh question to the Selangor Mentri Besar, Datuk Seri Dr. Mohamad Khir
Toyo on the worst dengue epidemic in Selangor state, I asked him why the
lives of Malaysians in the state had been sacrificed in the name of the 13th
Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in Kuala Lumpur.
In my email today, I referred to the Malaysiakini report yesterday on a
fuming Suhakam Human Rights Commissioner, Prof Dr. Mohd Hamdan Adnan
lambasting the Health Ministry for ignoring the importance of saving lives
after it postponed a meeting with Suhakam on the dengue epidemic fixed for
Hamdan said no official reason was given by the Health Ministry for calling
off the meeting at the last minute just a day earlier on Wednesday, although
it was obvious that the postponement was because Malaysia is hosting the NAM
As Hamdan said: "Aedes mosquitoes do not know how to differentiate whether
you are a NAM delegate or not. People are dying, talks about many people
being warded are still going on. We just want to find out the exact
statistics from them during the meeting and get the actual picture on this
outbreak. This is a matter of respecting the right to live."
In my email to Khir Toyo, I also recounted my chance encounter with the
Health Minister, Datuk Chua Jui Meng yesterday although I had tried but
failed to seek a meeting with the Minister on the worst dengue epidemic in
the nation's history since mid-December more than two months ago.
I was at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) outside B 3 Departure
Lounge waiting for the departure of my flight to Sibu (MH 2714) at about
4.15 p.m. when a person came up to me and patted me at the back and greeted
me. I looked and found it was none other than Chua, who had been avoiding me
for two months. He had disembarked from another flight and had to pass me to
walk on to leave the departure concourse.
I reciprocated the greeting and immediately asked him in Hokkien: "Why
continue to stifle?" He pretended ignorance at what I was talking about, and
when I said he should know that I was referring to the dengue epidemic, he
responded by saying that "a lot of work is being done on the ground". I
retorted that all this was of no good, as people continue to die, and that
the radio and television are not being used to get the urgent message of the
dengue epidemic out to the public. Chua quickly walked away.
In my email, I asked Khir Toyo why he agreed to be part of the Health
Ministry's irresponsible policy to subordinate and sacrifice the lives of
Malaysians in Selangor in the worst dengue epidemic in the name of NAM.
As a responsible Selangor Mentri Besar, Khir Toyo should have dissociated
himself from Chua's irresponsible handling of the dengue epidemic, and
insisted that the Selangor State Government's first duty is to save lives to
stop the long list of unnecessary and avoidable deaths, NAM or no NAM.
Chua yesterday said that for the NAM summit, 256 medical personnel have been
mobilized, with 19 teams being based at the 11 hotels where the delegates
are staying, the Putra World Trade Centre and KL International Airport.
There are also two mobile units, several ambulances and two helicopters on
standby. Even a bio-chemical unit has been set up.
Chua said: "We will leave nothing to chance and are prepared for any
eventuality.", adding that medical staff will also keep an eye on hygiene at
the hotels where the delegates are staying and at meeting places.
Nobody begrudges the extraordinary attention being devoted to protect the
health and medical well-being of the NAM delegates, but Malaysians must have
hoped that if the Health Minister could have devoted one per cent of the "We
will leave nothing to chance and are prepared for any eventuality" attitude
in the handling of the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history,
Selangor and Malaysia would not have recorded the most number of dengue
cases and the longest list of dengue deaths so far.
In my email to Khir Toyo, I urged the Selangor Mentri Besar not to follow in
the footsteps of the Health Minister in giving better treatment to
foreigners as compared to Malaysian citizens. If Malaysians cannot be
treated better than foreigners, they should not be treated worse!
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National