Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kist Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, Nov. 25, 1982 at 12.30 p.m.
Call on former inmates at Kuala Kubu Baru Drug Rehabilitation Centre who had absconded for fear of the ‘MCA’, ‘UMNO’ or ‘MIC’ underworld organisations at the centre to come forward to help expose the truth and surrender themselves to the police
I note that in commenting on the allegations by former inmate at Kuala Kubu Baru Drug Rehabilitation Centre, Rajah s/o Gengathaaran, 26, that he was physically assaulted until he agreed to escape from the centre to Kuala Lumpur to buy drugs of heroin and ganja for the ‘MIC’ seniors, the Director-General of Social Welfare, Encik Abdullah Malim Baginda, said that the government was trying to separate drug addicts into different categories and place them accordingly in the four main rehabilitation centres in Peninsular Malaysia.
At least, the Social Welfare Ministry officials have stopped taking the public stance of ‘not knowing’ or ‘having to find out’ to evade responsibility for the terrible things taking place at the Kuala Kubu Baru Drug Rehabilitation Centre, where drug addicts not only are not weaned away from the drug addction, but become hardened criminals.
What is shocking is that the Kuala Kubu Baru Drug Rehabilitation Centre had for several years became notorious for its underworld organisations self-styled as ‘MCA’ for Chinese inmates, ‘UMNO’ for Malay inmates, and ‘MIC’ for Indian inmates, which exercise even greater control over the inmates than the centre officials for the underworld organisation control is based on physical violence and brutalities which the centre officials could not stop.
Why did the centre officials and the Ministry of Welfare allow the Kuala Kubu Baru Drug Rehabilitation Centre to go on having such ‘government within a government’, where inmates are forced to abscond in large numbers, not because they fear the centre officials, but because they are terrorised by the ‘illegal authorities’ at the centre.
The centre officials and the Welfare Ministry should know that many inmates escaped, because they are afraid of being beaten up or other forms of physical violence. What protection did the centre officials and Welfare Ministry give to inmates who really want to reform and get off drugs completely?
In December last year, I received a letter from a group of drug addicts who were inmates at the KKB Drug Rehabilitation Centre, with copies to the Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam and the Welfare Minister, Datin Paduka Aishah Ghani.
The letter said:
“We are a group of drug addicts committed by the court orders to undergo treatment for drug addiction in the Pusat Pemulihan Dadah in Kuala Kubu Baru. Some of us are voluntary cases. Some of us are sent here for a second time. Some had received treatment in Tampoi centre and Bukit Mertajam centre.
“We receive here nothing, just waste of public monies. We are made worse day by day. We are treated like prisoners and not like patients. There is no individual treatment. We also have no faith in the staff for any good things. We could get anything inside the centre, including the drugs, samsoo and other things except the women. Conditions here are like an opium den. The same is with the Tampoi centre and Bukit Mertajam centre. Also the same with the Kuala Besut centre where on Indian boy died recently.
“There are a lot of raggings go on inside these centre. In KKB there were three deaths in the past, but all hidden away because they died in the local hospital. In Bukit Mertajam and Tampoi are alike. All are hidden away. We were there (some of us) and we know of these injuries and deaths. All are well covered. Among the many raggings taken place in all these centres, many were badly injured. Recently in our centre (KKB) last week Monday, (the letter was dated 10th December 1981) there was a big ragging, and two were badly injured. 22 of the inmates are now in the local hospital. ……
“The reasons being the centres have no proper system, especially here. They are lousy. The Welfare Ministry really don’t know how to run the drug centres. The majority of the staffs are not happy to work in the centres. They even asked us to set fire to the centre here. They said the Ministry of Welfare controlled by a bunch of fools who are MCS officers who know nothing about welfare. Since they are not bothered about the welfare of their own staff, the staffs are not bothered about the welfare of the inmates. The staff said they are forced to work 48 hours in a week while their brother officers in the field work only 35 hours a week. The staffs in the centre are also forced to work on Saturdays and Sundays……”
The KKB Drug Rehabilitation Centre is indeed a very ‘sick’ system, and the Welfare Ministry should not delay any further to implement and thorough-going overhaul of the system. By its indifference and incompetence, allowing the ‘UMNO’, ‘MIC’ and ‘MCA’ underworld organisations at the centre to terrorise the inmates, the Welfare Ministry is in fact guilty of driving the inmates into desperate actions like absconding from the centre.
The Welfare Ministry should release figures as to how many abscondments and attempts at abscondments had taken place since the opening of the centre.
I understand that many of the inmates who absconded for fear of ‘MCA’, ‘UMNO’ and ‘MIC’ underworld organisations, are at large, for they had committed an offence which involves police arrest and charge in court. I will call on all those who absconded from the centre because of their fear of the ‘illegal authorities’ in the centre to come forward and turn themselves in to the police, and I call on the authorities to be lenient with them, in view of the circumstances which forced them to abscond.
I call on all those who absconded or former inmates to come forward to tell the nation and public their experiences of terror and fear while in the centre under the ‘reign’ of ‘UMNO’, ‘MCA’, ‘MIC’ underworld organisations, so that such ‘illegal authorities’ are stamped out once and for all by force of public pressure. Those who wish to expose the underworld organisations at the centre should contact me, tel. 769554 (PJ) or 25244 (Malacca), or contact my secretary, Madhavan Nair at 769554, or through any DAP MP, Assemblyman or branch of DAP.
They should do so immediately, for next Tuesday is the Parliamentary debate on the estimates for the Ministry of Welfare Services for 1983, and that would be the most appropriate time for the highlighting of the monstrous system in KKB Drug Rehabilitation Centre.
Call for inquiry into death of Form 1 Taiping student, Phun Wei Lam, to ascertain whether his death was caused by negligence of Taiping General Hospital
On 20th Nov. 1982, a Form One Hwa Lian Secondary School student from Taiping, Phun Wei Lam, 14, died in the Taiping General Hospital in circumstances which call for a full inquiry as to whether his death was caused by negligence on the part of the Taiping General Hospital.
I have with me the father of Wei Lam, Poh Ah Ban @ Phun Koo Ming, 43, hawker, and his grandfather, Phoon Yoot Sang, 72. On the morning of 17th Nov., Wei Lam complained of severe stomach pains after taking a bowl of mee for breakfast. His father took him to the hospital at about 8.45 a.m., where the doctor at the outpatient department prescribed an injection and pills even without checking or examining Wei Lam. After the injection, and taking a solution, Wei Lam was asked to take two pills. But when the pills were put in his mouth, he vomited out even the breakfast.
He was put under observation in the casualty room in one of the beds, where he rested and slept fitfully till about 12.45 p.m. The doctor then wrote out a prescription slip and asked the father to collect the medicine and take the boy home.
At about 3 p.m., Wei Lam was in very great pain at home, and the father took him to a private dispensary where the private practitioner after examination immediately referred him to the Taiping General Hospital for admission.
On arrival at the hospital, the father, Poh Ah Ban, was scolded by the doctor who had examined the boy in the morning, saying ‘You have a lot of money. You want to see private doctors!” Wei Lam was admitted into Ward 18 at about 4.55 p.m. The father was told that the boy had to undergo an operation, and he signed consent paper for the operation. However, the boy was not given any further attention or treatment, after his nose was cleaned up, and he was left alone in his bed, resting and sleeping fitfully until about midnight when he was taken to the operation theatre.
After the boy’s operation, the father and grandfather went up to the surgeon coming out of the operating theatre how was the boy. The surgeon asked the boy was brought to the hospital so late, and when the boy’s parents and grandfather protested that the boy was brought that morning itself, and was sent off and had to be admitted only after being referred by private practitioner, the surgeon asked who was the doctor who did that.
The boy was brought out of the operating theatre at about 1.15 p.m. and returned to the ward. Wei Lam pulled out the ‘glucose drips’ tube, and although his father asked the nurse on duty to re-connect the tube on three separate occasions, the nurse haughtily-replied that it was her duty, and the tube was not reconnected until about 4 a.m.
On 20th Nov. the boy’s condition worsened. He was taken for a X-ray in the morning, and put on oxygen. By noon that day, his eyes were getting unfocussed, mumbling and muttering without sense. His condition continue to deteriorate that afternoon, and despite the repeated attempts to call for doctors to attend to Wei Lam, no doctors came, until a friend of the family had to ring up from outside the hospital before a doctor appeared. By that time it was too late, and despite attempt by the doctor to resuscitate Wei Lam, the boy died at 7.35 a.m.
The cause of death given by the hospital for the boy’s death is ‘septicemia’ or ‘blood poisoning’. Up to now, the death certificate for Wei Lam had not been issued. The parents and relatives and friends are very aggrieved for Wei Lam’s life might have been saved, if he had been attended to medically that morning, by being warded, instead of indifferent and careless medical treatment given to him that morning.
I understand that this is not the only case of indifferent and careless medical treatment of the sick in Taiping General Hospital, and there have been many cases where the patients had to go to a private practitioner again for referral for admission to the hospital. Clearly, the Taiping General Hospital requires a shake-up like the Malacca Hospital in 1973.