Ketua Pembangkang and DAP Member of Parliament for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, today issued the following statement:
Call for a public inquiry into the mass baby deaths in the Malacca Hospital
I have received complaints, and have investigated and ascertained, that there were a series of abnormal deaths of infants in the Malacca Hospital during the week beginning on Nov. 21.
Babies born looking fit and well would die on the second or third day, many bleeding in the mouth, nostrils and rectum, after unable to breathe.
The outbreak of the series of baby deaths, which took places when the Hospital gynaecologist, Dr. Johann Thumboo, was on leave, could have claimed as many as 20 deaths.
Malacca Hospital sources do not deny the incident of abnormal baby death, but stated that some ten deaths took place.
There was an outbreak of diarrhoea during that period. The cause of death of many of the babies was given as neo-natal jaundice.
Following Dr. Thumboo’s return from leave, the nursery was closed. A bacteriological study was made, which to dare, as not completed its findings.
I have sent a cable to the Health Minister, Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew, calling for public inquiry into the baby deaths to restore public confidence. The cable reads:
“Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew,
Minister of Health.
Malacca people shocked by abnormal baby deaths which number some 20 cases in Malacca Hospital during the week beginning Nov. 21. Public inquiry should be instituted immediately to find out courses of death of babies, in many of whom were born fit and well, to ascertain whether there had been any hospital negligence and to restore public confidence in the Malacca Hospital.
Hope there would be no more attempt to like the autoclave blood poisoning death cases in 1973 to cover up deaths and deny public the full facts. Suggest you make a visit to Malacca Hospital to show your personal concern about baby deaths.
Lim Kit Siang
Ahli Parliamen Kota Melaka”
After the despatch, Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew told me that he has instructed the Director of the Hospital Division in the Health Ministry to investigate into the baby deaths in the Malacca Hospital.