Eleventh question to Khir Toyo: Why Selangor must accept the fate of a
Third World state and suffer more dengue cases and deaths than Singapore?
by Lim Kit Siang
Thursday): I have sent my ninth email to
the Selangor Mentri Besar, Datuk Seri Dr. Mohamad Khir Toyo on the worst
dengue epidemic in Selangor in the state's history, together with the
question as to why the people of Selangor must accept the fate of a Third
World state and suffer more dengue cases and deaths as compared to
I told Khir Toyo that his email reply to me on Monday was a very disturbing
document, giving much food for thought, for two reasons:
Firstly, it did not answer my sixth question: Why the Selangor Mentri Besar
and top Selangor State officials could find time to lead raids on vice dens
but could not find time to spearhead a campaign to clean up the aedes-mosquitoes
infested areas in Selangor state to make them dengue-free and save lives, as
Selangor is facing a prolonged and most serious dengue epidemic recording
the most number of dengue cases and deaths in the state's history; and
Secondly, Khir Toyo's satisfaction and acceptance of Third World low
standards of public health care in Selangor in comparison with Singapore to
justify Selangor's outrageous record of dengue cases and deaths in the
current dengue epidemic, still raging unchecked and causing more unnecessary
and avoidable deaths.
In my email today, I put two questions, the tenth and eleventh in the
current series, to the Selangor Mentri Besar, viz:
No. 10: Can the Selangor Mentri Besar give an assurance that he will
properly prioritise his duties and responsibilities by giving the topmost
priority to the campaign to stop the relentless toll of unnecessary and
avoidable dengue deaths in Selangor in the current dengue epidemic instead
of dissipating limited energies, time and resources on highly thrilling but
definitely less important diversions?
No 11: Whether the Selangor Mentri Besar could convene a full meeting
of all Selangor top officials, from State Excos, the State Secretary, State
Financial Officer downwards, to eradicate the resigned, negative and
defeatist attitude that the people of Selangor must accept the fate of a
Third World state in suffering from a worse dengue epidemic as compared to
I referred to Khir Toyo's email reply to me, where he said:
"The comment comparing Selangor to Singapore is not logical.
Singapore is a very well developed country with a superb health
infrartructure as well as dengue operational activities which also include
public health infrastructure ie. waste or rubbish management and they even
go to the extent of looking into the building infrastructure to prevent
Aedes breeding. Despite all the efforts taken, Singapore still report a high
incidence of Dengue last year (according to media) and also a resurgence of
"Selangor is a very much developing state, with a slightly higher population
than Singapore, and the most rapidly urbanised state in Malaysia. Generally,
Selangor still has to develop tremendously to achieve a standard comparable
In my earlier emails to Khir Toyo, I had asked why Singapore
could successfully bring the dengue epidemic under control with an all-out
anti-dengue campaign while the dengue epidemic in Selangor has got worse,
recording more than 600 per cent higher incidence of dengue cases and more
than 1,000 per cent higher incidence of dengue deaths than Singapore in the
first full week of January this year although both have almost the same
I reminded Khir Toyo that the World Health organization (WHO) had issued a
warning to the region of a possible dengue pandemic on the scale of the
worst recorded dengue year of 1998 and urged governments to take effective
action against the mosquitoes which spread the infection.
The WHO disease control specialist Dr. Mike Nathan had then warned: "This
year is looking a bit like 1998 when we had a pandemic. It's a very worrying
picture". Nathan lamented: "Countries declare a state of emergency
when the disease is upon them, but that's really too late. In most affected
countries, lots of money gets thrown at an epidemic, but not in the
1998 was also the worst recorded year for dengue for Singapore,
when it recorded 5,258 dengue cases and one dengue death (as compared to
27,379 dengue cases and 58 deaths in Malaysia for the same year).
Singapore was also included in the WHO warning last July of a possible
dengue pandemic in the region, and there was a marked rise in the incidence
of dengue cases in August and September in the island republic.
However, in less than five months by the end of November last year, the
Singapore government announced that it had "successfully curbed" the dengue
menace in Singapore and the dengue situation was returning to normal
"despite the active transmission of dengue in the region".
Singapore last year reported 3,937 dengue cases and eight DHF cases, much
lower than the 5,258 dengue cases in 1998 although higher than in 2001 when
it recorded 2,366 dengue cases and 24 DHF cases (as compared to 9,385
dengue/DHF cases reported in Selangor for last year till 28.12.2002).
Why could Singapore heed the WHO warning last July of a possible dengue
pandemic to bring the deadly disease under control and save lives but not
Selangor where it has ballooned into the worst dengue epidemic in the
Khir Toyo's reason can be summed up in two words, that Selangor
is "more backward" than Singapore. This was why Khir Toyo claimed that it
was "not logical" to compare Selangor with Singapore, which is "a very
well developed country with a superb health infrastructure as well as dengue
operational activities which also include public health infrastructure, i.e.
waste and rubbish management."
Such an explanation would have been understandable if Khir Toyo
is Mentri Besar of one of the least developed states like Kelantan, Kedah
and Perlis, but he forgets that he is head of one the most developed states
in the country whose per capita GDP is more than twice the national average!
Such an attempt to find a simple way out to explain why
Singapore could bring a possible dengue epidemic under control while in
Selangor, it has become a galloping epidemic causing the most number of
dengue cases and deaths in the state's history, is most unworthy of Selangor
as one of the most developed states in Malaysia.
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National