By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, on Wednesday, 11.7.1979:
Call on Health Minister, Tan Sri Chong Hong Nyan, to lift the 24-hour clamp down on free movement of patients and inmates at the Sungei Buloh Leprosarium
I call on the Health Minister, Tan Sri Chong Hong Nyan, to lift the 24-hour clamp-down on free movement of patients and inmates at the Sungei Buloh Leprosarium as the Selangor Police do not regard the leper settlement as a ‘black area’ or security area.
Accompanied by Sdr. Zainal Rampak, adviser to DAP Sungei Buloh Branch, I met the Selangor CPO, Datuk P.Alegendra, and the OCPD of Rawang, ASP Abdul Kadir, at the Selangor Police Headquarters in Klang this afternoon.
I called on the Selangor CPO as during my visit to the Sungai Buloh Leprosarium in the company of Sdr. Zainal Rampak, DAP MP for Ipoh Lim Cho Hock, DAP MP for Kluang, Lee Kaw, DAP Perak State Assemblyman Mohd. Salleh Nakhoda Hitam, and my parliamentary political secretary, Mahadevan Nair, last Saturday, I was informed by the Leprosarium authorities that the clamp-down on free movement of patients and visitors were the result of police discovery of an illicit samsu still in the settlement at the end of May.
I have seen assured by the Selangor CPO. Datuk Alegendra, that whatever measures taken by the Leprosarium authorities had nothing to do with the Police, and were taken without consultation or the advice of the Police.
Datuk Alegendra said the police action against illicit samsu distillery in the Leprosarium were like ordinary police raids in other areas, and that the Police had not classified the Leprosarium as a ‘black area’ or security area.
In view of this clarification by the Selangor Chief Police Officer, I call on the Health Minister, Tan Sri Chong Hong Nyan, to lift the 24-hour clampdown on free movement of patients and visitors which tamtamount to collective punishment of the 1,600 inmates for the transgressions of a few. I will also seek a meeting with the Health Minister, Tan Sri Chong Hong Nyan, on this matter.
The free movement of patients and visitors is an important therapeutic part of the treatment of leprosy inmates, to fully integrate them with society and make them lead normal, meaningful lives. The month-long clamp-down on free movement in the Leprosarium has not only caused hardships and sufferings to the patients and relatives, but is a direct reversal of the Open Door policy initiated in 1969 by the Leprosarium to end the social stigma of lepers as ‘outcasts of society’.
The continued clamping down of the Leprosarium has in fact made the lepers feel that they are indeed ‘pariahs’ of society, defeating the very object of leprosy treatment and rehabilitation of lepers.