Adjournment Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Ra’ayat on 23rd August 1972.
Complaint against Dr. Mrs. L. Mohan, Eye specialist in Malacca General Hospital by Malacca DAP state Assemblyman for Kota Timor, Bernard Sta Maria for rudeness and discourtesy
On 19th May 1972, the DAP State Assemblyman for Kota Timor in Malacca, Sdr. Bernard Sta Maria, wrote to the Minister of Health complaining against the rudeness of Dr. L. Mohan, eye specialist at the Malacca General Hospital, for rudeness against patients and the general public.
Sdr. Bernard had written to the Minister of Health in response to the Minister’s appeal to State Assemblymen and Members of Parliament to communicate whatever complaints they have to him, instead of making press statements. It is regrettable that to this date, Sdr. Bernard’s letter to the Health Minister has received neither reply nor acknowledgement.
Sdr. Bernard was giving a case in which he himself, while discharging his duties as a State Assemblyman, experienced rudeness and discourtesy by a governmental doctor.
As stated in the letter, on 17th May 1972, Sdr. Bernard was urged by one of his constituents to intercede on behalf of a patient who had been given four more months of sight before going completely blind. This patient wanted to go to China for treatment, and to apply for permission from the Ministry of Home Affairs for the China trip, he needed a medical certificate.
The patient, however, had found difficulty in getting his medical certificate, and Sdr. Bernard was approached to help out in getting the medical certificate without any further delay.
As the Acting Chief Medical Health Officer was away at a meeting, when Bernard Sta Maria arrived at the Malacca General Hospital, he went to see the doctored concerned, namely the eye specialist Dr. Mrs. L. Mohan.
Here, I wish to quote from the letter which Sdr. Bernard had written to the Minister:
“After having introduced myself, I met the doctor at her office in the presence of a hospital assistant. Without giving me a chance to explain my purpose in coming to see her, raising her voice from the beginning. Although I attempted to explain to her why I had come to see her, her anger and loud voice gave me no opportunity to air my views. In less than two or three minutes, she walked out of her office and literally drove me out of her office.”
Dr. Mohan strode off the office and went to abuse the patient who was asking for the medical certificate, in front of six or seven patients, the Hospital Assistant, two Assistant nurses, a stuff nurse, two attendants.
Sdr. Bernard, tried to intervene and ask the doctor not to abuse and humiliate the patient, who was sick, but the doctor ignored him and went on with her public display of temper. At one point, she even struck Bernard Sta Maria.
This is a very serious case. If a doctor can be so rude and discourteous to a State Assemblyman, we can imagine how rude and discourteous such a doctor can be to ordinary members of the public. The Malacca General Hospital has been the centre of public complaints about rudeness and discourtesy.
Only the other day, a Justice of Peace and a Member of the General hospital Visiting Board in Malacca was the victim of such rudeness and discourtesy. Of course he protested, and extracted an apology.
But what of the thousands of ordinary people, who are daily being, made the butt of rudeness, discourtesy, insults. They can’t get any remedy.
The Ministry’s complete failure to attend to Sdr. Bernard’s complaint is a very sad commentary on the Ministry’s attitude to this problem.
I call on the Ministry of Health to instruct all staff in Malacca General Hospital, from doctors to attendants, to conduct a courtesy and politeness campaign for one-month- in which month, there will be a Complaints Officer stationed at the Malacca General Hospital to receive any complaints of rude and discourteous attitude of hospital staff to completely change the attitude of some hospital staffs in the relationship with the public.
It is regrettable that since the Minister of Health assumed office in January this year, he has not given this problem of courtesy and politeness in hospitals serious attention. I hope he would energetically and vigorously conduct meaningful courtesy campaign in Malacca General Hospitals and all other general hospitals and clinics.
Finally, I would like to know whether the Minister has taken any action on Sdr. Bernard’s complaint.