Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a Public Rally at the Esplanade, Penang on Saturday, 5rd February 1974 at 9 p.m.
Call on Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew to pay compensation to the deceased families of the victims of Malacca Hospital poisoning in July/August 1973
Senator Yeap Kheng Yam of MCA, Perak, and other MCA related circles are very unhappy that I have taken up in the mass deaths in the Malacca Hospital in July and August 1973, and my motion to cut the salary of the Minister of Health, Lee Siok Yew, by $100.
These people are not interested, or concerned, about the innocent and unnecessary deaths among the 107 who died from July 21 to August 20, 1973, because of hospital maladministration and negligence leading to autoclave poisoning.
The Minister of Health has refused to call a Public Commission of Inquiry into the mass deaths, which is a very big matter. He has also suppressed the report of his own departmental committee into the causes of 12 of the 107 deaths.
If none of the 107 deaths is caused by poisoning, whether through the transfusion of poisoned blood or poisoned salt solution, why is it the Minister dare not make public individual case history of the 107 deaths to show they die by natural causes or from illness?
Instead of a full public inquiry into the 107 deaths, the Minister of Health, Lee Siok Yew, is doing his best to cover it up. I want the Minister to tell the people of Malacca why he is behaving so strangely.
The Minister of Health, Lee Siok Yew, should discharge his duties as a Minister, and in the case of all cases of innocent deaths among the 107 deaths, the government should pay compensation of the families concerned.
The Minister of Health should put up a formal paper to the Cabinet embodying this proposal of government compensation at the next Cabinet meeting.
Senator Yeap Kheng Yam and other MCA-related circles have also asked why I seem to be interested only in censuring MCA Ministers, and not UMNO Ministers.
As far as I am concerned, I do not care whether a Minister is from the MCA, UMNO or PAS or MIC, So long as he has committed grave dereliction of duty, I and my colleagues in the DAP will expose them.
When Tan Sri Sardon bin Haji Jubir was formerly Minister of Health, I did not spare my criticism about the various inefficiencies in the Malacca Hospital. The people of Malacca would still remember, I am sure, about the period when there had been several deaths as a result of patients falling from multi-storey blocks, which I highlighted in Parliament.
However, I must confess that I have not come across a Minister who went out of his way as Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew has done to cover up gross negligence and grave dereliction of duty, involving innocent deaths.
If Senator Yeap Kheng Yam or other MCA-related circles can tell me of a UMNO, PAS or MIC Minister who have committed the same enormity in their dereliction of duties, I would have no hesitation to censure them in Parliament.
We in the DAP, in standing up against highly unpopular legislative measures, like the Constitutional Amendment Bill 1971 to ban discussion of sensitive issues, the 1972 Education (Amendment) Bill to abolish Chinese Schools’ Boards of Managements and the recent Printing Press (Amendment) Bill did not fear incurring the wrath of UMNO leaders or their more ultra ranks. We in the DAP have gone through more fire than the MCA leaders have ever seen.
Although my motion to cut Lee Siok Yew’ s salary by $100 was defeated by 68-18 votes, after the voting, many government Members of Parliament expressed to me their shock and disappointment at Lee Siok Yew’s Ministerial conduct, and incompetence.
One government M.P. even said that Lee Siok Yew is not fit to be a Minister. At an Alliance meeting a few days after the vote, an Alliance backbencher told a Minister that the Minister should not expect the Alliance Member of Parliament to blindly support all the actions of the Ministers, whether right or wrong. He protested that a few days ago, he was forced to vote against his own conscience in supporting Lee Siok Yew in the motion to cut his salary by $100.
If Senayor Yeap Kheng Yeam or even Lee Siok Yew want to know more details, I am prepared to give names and details of all these and other incidents, to show that even among the government Members of Parliament, they are disgusted with the way Lee Siok Yew has tried to cover up the Malacca Hospital deaths.