DAP Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka and Party Secretary- General, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, today issued the following statement – 21.9.1973: (Mr. Lim is also advisor to the Committee of Families of Deceased at Malacca Hospital from July 21 to August 20)
Lim Kit Siang urges Minister of Health, Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew, to: (1) ensure that his order that all leave and transfers for officers and staff in Malacca Hospital be stopped is adhered to strictly until end of Malacca Hospital deaths inquiry; (2) issue a directive to Malacca Hospital authorities to stop their witch-hunt campaign
I have written to the Health Minister, Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew, urging him to ensure that his order that all leave and transfers for officers and staff in Malacca Hospital be stopped until the end of the inquiry into the unusual Malacca Hospital deaths be obeyed strictly, as it has come to my knowledge that some officers are finalising preparations to go abroad.
I have also asked Tan Sri Lee to issue a directive to the Malacca Hospital authorities to end a witch-hunt campaign among the hospital staff.
In my letter to Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew, I said:
“Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew,
Minister of Health.
As I mentioned in my letter to your dated 11.9.1973 I was particularly concerned when my own inquiries convinced me that your August 24 statement about the Malacca Hospital’s autoclave was not a correct representation of the true facts and that you had been misled by your subordinates in the Malacca Hospital.
My further inquiries have now led me to the conclusion that you have, more than once, been misled by the Malacca Hospital authorities. Thus, in your August 24 statement, you said there were 12 deaths in the Malacca Hospital during this period, which you later told accompanying newsmen during your visit to the Malacca Hospital on Sept. 4 as not an unusual figure.
In actual fact, from July 21 to August 20, there were some 110 deaths – when the average monthly mortality rate for the first six months of this year for the Malacca Hospital was 70 deaths. This means that during the period in question, from July 21 to August 20, more than 40 deaths than the average monthly mortality rate took place.
Evidently, you were given 12 selected cases by the Malacca Hospital authorities, and you were subsequently misled into making untrue public statements which in turn misled the entire Malacca and Malaysian public.
Last Friday, when opening a conference of State health directors and heads of divisions in Kuantan, you ordered hospital authorities to take action against the few who were blemishing the good name of the hospital service and assured them of your full support for such actions.
There is here in the case of the Malacca Hospital overwhelming ground for immediate disciplinary action to be taken against the authorities concerned, for negligently allowing a situation to develop resulting in the unusually high number of unnecessary deaths, and in consistently misleading you as Minister of Health about the true position, causing you in turn to mislead the public and country.
Investigation Committee should inquire into 110 deaths
It is clearly unsatisfactory if the Investigation Committee confines itself to the 12 selected cases handpicked by the Malacca Hospital authorities. To do full justice to its duties, the Investigation Committee must go into every one of the 110 cases of deaths during the period in question.
Leave and Transfers
When you visited the Malacca Hospital on Sept. 4, you announced that all leave and transfers for officers involved in allegations of negligence be stopped for the time being.
I understand that despite this directive there are officers who are leaving the country soon.
I therefore urge you to look into this and ensure that your directive is strictly and scrupulously adhered to. In view of the fact that justice demands that the scope of the inquiry should enlarge from the 12 selected cases of deaths to the 110 cases of deaths, all officers and staff should not take their leave or transfers until the whole tragic affair had been thoroughly and satisfactorily accounted for.
Witch-hunt in Malacca Hospital by authorities
Recently, the Malacca Hospital authorities have launched a witch-hunt to blacklist and mark for punishment personnel whom the top administrators suspect are responsible one way or another for furnishing information leading to my call and campaign for a public inquiry into the Malacca Hospital deaths.
You assured me at our meeting of August 30 that you are personally anxious to get to the truth of the entire tragic affair, and that there would be no witch-hunt either by the Ministry of Health or the Malacca Hospital authorities to victimize or penalize any officer or staff merely on suspicion that that person had given information to me.
The most crucial and pressing task at hand is to find out how many innocent people died in the Malacca Hospital in July and August, and how to restore public confidence in the Malacca Hospital, and not to embark on a witch-hunt which can only end up as a wild goose’s chase just to satisfy some personal pride or venom.
I urge you therefore to look in to this matter personally, to ensure that the Malacca Hospital authorities will not be permitted to victimize or penalize any person for speaking truthfully, or for some unfounded suspicion, or to settle some personal score. Needless to say, I am taking a deep personal interest in this and other aspects of the tragic Malacca Hospital deaths.