Call on Chua Jui Meng to provide daily detailed reports and statistics of SARS cases in Parliament and media

Press Statement
by Fong Po Kuan

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): I call on the Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng to stop diminishing public confidence in the government's handling of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) by providing daily detailed reports and statistics of suspected and confirmed SARS cases in Parliament and media.

Yesterday, the Director General of Health Ministry Dr. Mohd Taha Arif had said that Malaysia is free from SARS and that there was not a single suspected case. But today, 41 cases of SARS have been reported.

The sudden and drastic jump from 'zero' to 41 cases shows that the government is misleading the public and suppressing information of a disease that is of global proportions.

To disallow full reporting on SARS for fear that it would adversely affect public confidence and keep tourists away can only result in a reverse effect. As it is now, the public is already losing confidence in the government through the denial of vital information on SARS which would give them a true picture of how widespread the disease is in our country.

Are tourist arrivals more important than the safety of people's lives? By focusing on the negative implications on tourists, the government is guilty of putting the emphasis on the wrong place and disregarding the lives of the public who has a fundamental right to full information on SARS.

At the same time, the Malaysian team that was sent to investigate the SARS outbreak in Singapore would be acting improperly and unprofessionally if they fail in their duty to advise the government to be fully transparent in the reporting of incidences of SARS.

I also urge the Health Ministry to provide full details of all suspected SARS cases and confirmed cases if any on its website instead of merely putting up news reports. If the Singapore Health Ministry can provide the latest detailed statistics of SARS cases on its website on a daily basis, there is no reason why our Health Ministry cannot do likewise.


* Fong Po Kuan, MP for Batu Gajah