Calls on the government to be honest and transparent in dealing with the said issue so that the public and the international community will have confidence in our country

Press Comment
at the launch of SARS awareness campaign  by Perak DAP
by Ngeh Koo Ham

(Ipoh, Sunday): Perak DAP condemns the veiled threat by Health Minister, Datuk Chua Jui Meng to use the Internal Security Act against DAP national chairman and former Malaysian Parliamentary opposition leader, Mr. Lim Kit Siang for the latter's continued pressure on the health ministry to be honest and transparent in dealing with the issue on SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).

On Friday, 4 April,2003 the Health Minister, Datuk Chua Chui Meng threatened to take dire action against Mr. Lim Kit Siang in the name of national security. He said that SARS has now been classified as a national security matter implying that Mr. Lim Kit Siang's criticism against the health ministry's handling of SARS can tantamount to a threat to national security and he can be detained under the Internal Security Act without trial. He warned that ' The Home Ministry has cognizance of this, and so has the police'. Perak DAP condemns the said threat in the strongest possible terms. Our nation and the Health Minister should be most grateful for the concern shown and the effort put in by Mr. Lim Kit Siang in ensuring that this potentially devastating disease will not again take away scores of Malaysian lives and caused other adverse effects to our nation.

Many lives were lost to the corsakie disease. 106 lives were lost to the Nipah virus. More than 80 lives were lost to denggi in the last 12 months. The said diseases have caused the affected people and their families much suffering and our nation hundreds of millions of ringgit.

The mishandling of the denggi fever by the health ministry has caused the people to lose confidence in the ministry. The ministry was more concern with tourism and the NAM conference in Malaysia than with the lives of Malaysians. Without the awareness campaign that should have been carried out by the health ministry more than 80 lives were lost last year and there were more than 36000 cases of denggi recorded. The figures on denggi cases released by the health ministry did not tally with the figures released by the respective States causing the public to doubt if the health ministry was telling the truth. The story of the boy who called 'wolves!' were taught to us when we were young to impress upon us the need to always tell the truth if not in no time people will disbelieve us. The Health Minister probably needs a reminder of that story.

The health ministry should be honest and transparent in the dealing with SARS. The people must be informed of the real situation and be educated on how to avoid or overcome SARS. If the health ministry is in disagreement on the information that has been disclosed by Mr. Lim Kit Siang then it should refute it by showing how Mr. Lim Kit Siang has erred. Mr. Lim Kit Siang must never be silenced through the Internal Security Act.It will only prove that the health ministry and the Government have something to hide. Truth does not fear light but falsehood does.


* Ngeh Koo Ham,  Perak DAP Chairman