Call on Chua Jui Meng to immediately remove the "gag" on full data on the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history as the flimsy excuse of the NAM Summit is no more

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang,  Friday): The Health Ministry parliamentary secretary S. Sothinathan yesterday claimed that the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history "is under control" and that the number of cases has "come down very much" over the last two weeks. (The Sun)

Sothinathan however would not provide statistics, and the inferences that pop up in everyone's mind are a "cover up" of the dengue epidemic, that the "cover-up" is continuing and that the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history is still raging with all its fury, unchecked.

Sothinathan, who is a party to the Health Ministry's mishandling of the worst dengue epidemic in Malaysia in refusing to release timely, accurate and full information about the deadly dengue disease, had only aggravated the worst credibility gap faced by the Health Ministry in the past 45 years since the attainment of independent nationhood in 1957 by continuing to hide behind the web of secrecy.

Common sense says that Sothinathan would have unveiled all the statistics of dengue cases and fatalities to substantiate his claims that the dengue epidemic is under control and that there had been a sharp drop in the incidence of dengue cases and fatalities over the past two weeks - as these figures would speak for themselves. Sothinathan's refusal to release the dengue data is most ominous, to say the least.

Even before the Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Khir Toyo confirmed in his email to me on Monday about a Cabinet directive to impose a "blackout" on all information about the dengue epidemic this year, I had already been privately informed by various Health Ministry officials in both the medical and health departments about the "blackout" and that it was to ensure that the success of the NAM Summit would not be marred in any way by a possible dengue scare.

I was told that once NAM Summit was over, the "media blackout" on the dengue epidemic would be lifted and that an all-out nation-wide campaign would be launched to alert the people to take preventive measures to put an end to the long list of unnecessary and avoidable deaths from dengue.

I am shocked and outraged that the Health Minister, Datuk Chua Jui Meng had not yet removed the "gag" on full data on the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history, although the 13th NAM Summit ended on Tuesday, and three days have since passed.

I call on Chua to immediately remove the "gag" on the dengue epidemic as the flimsy excuse of the NAM Summit is no more.

The dengue epidemic has become so widespread, prevalent and rampant that there is hardly a person who does not know of someone who had been struck down by the current dengue epidemic.

The following article on the Malaysian Medical Relief Society (MERCY Malaysia) website,, on "Combating Dengue" by Jeswan Kaur/Aseezah Jameelah early this month is one example.

The article started as follows:

"The word dengue may sound 'harmless' but it is well known that dengue kills. This writer can personally attest to this. A friend's 20-year-old daughter passed away just last year because of the disease.

"MERCY Malaysia, while carrying its staple duties, realised the need to educate its members, volunteers and staff on the dangers of dengue. Many of us might think we will never contract this deadly dengue - but remember, it could happen to anyone and prevention is better than no cure at all!

"MERCY Malaysia's chief operating officer Mohd Shah Awaluddin could attest to the pain that comes with dengue fever. He first experienced the anguish a few months ago when he saw a friend's daughter succumb to it.

"'She was only six, the same age as my daughter. I saw blood oozing out from her eyes, ears etc. I realised it could have been my brought tears to my eyes,' said Mohd Shah.

"Then last month he learnt a former classmate had passed away due to dengue. To add to his shock, Mohd Shah's younger brother, a father of five, was admitted to the Seremban general hospital for dengue fever.

"'I was so scared because at one point his blood platelet was as low as 15, compared to the normal count of 150 and above. Thank God my brother managed to pull through and is doing all right now,' said Mohd Shah."

What is most shocking is the "could not care less" attitude and apathy of the Health Minister and his parliamentary secretary to the unnecessary and avoidable human tragedies caused by the dengue epidemic, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) had warned as far back as eight months ago last July.

Next Thursday, DAP will lodge a third report to Suhakam on the blatant, unrepentant and relentless violation of the human rights of the people of Malaysia by the Health Ministry in its continued mishandling of the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman