Does it need to take a long 23 days for the MCA Team B leaders in Negeri Sembilan to realize the dangers of the SARS virus and the importance of an awareness campaign to the general public?
by Loke Siew Fook
(Seremban, Wednesday): I welcome the MCA Negeri Sembilan Team B leaders led by Dato’ Dr. Yeow Chai Thiam who finally put some “interests” on the public awareness campaign on SARS virus although it was a long 3 weeks after DAPSY first initiated such campaign in Negeri Sembilan! In the last few weeks, DAPSY has launched public awareness campaign in 3 different places in Negeri Sembilan namely in Seremban market on 6th April, in Lukut town on 13th April and in Tampin on 20th April.
When we first started the awareness campaign in Seremban, the global cumulative SARS cases was 2270 cases with 79 deaths. In just 23 days, the numbers shot to 5462 cases with 353 deaths worldwide as of yesterday 29th April! In percentage points, the number of SARS cases rose by 140% and the number of deaths rose by 347% worldwide in just a matter of 23 days.
Does it need to take a long 23 days for the MCA Team B leaders in Negeri Sembilan to realize the dangers of the SARS virus and the importance of an awareness campaign to the general public? Is this the efficiency level of the MCA leaders particularly Dato’ Dr. Yeow who is a State EXCO member and the other 2 State Assemblymen?
Dr. Yeow said that it is better that the public have some fears of the virus than they don’t care about it at all while Datuk Lee Yuen Fong asked the public not to panic and do not listen to rumors. The question is why there are some people who don’t care about the virus at all while some were panic over rumors? This is because the government at the state level did not give proper and timely responses and information on the SARS virus to the general public.
During my press conference on 6th April when I launched the public awareness campaign on SARS in the Seremban market, I have suggested the Negeri Sembilan state government should on its coming EXCO meeting on 9th April to immediately set up a special committee headed by the Menteri Besar himself to monitor the SARS outbreak and give daily updates about the situation in the state to the public through mass media.
If the state government has heeded my suggestion then, rumors such as workers at Giant Hypermarket infected by SARS should not have created panic and fear among the people in Seremban. What is needed is the state government must be totally transparent in giving information about the virus, act fast and give timely responses so the public will get the clearest picture about the situation.
Dr. Yeow suggested that Assemblymen in the state should organize more awareness activities in the state like organizing health talks but he should bear responsibility as the member of the State EXCO and he should explain why he did not suggest in the State EXCO meeting to launch a massive awareness campaign on SARS in Negeri Sembilan and only until now that he start to distribute information leaflets to the public!
Datuk Lee Yuen Fong asked the public not to panic as the SARS outbreak is not as serious as the Nipah virus outbreak in Bukit Pelanduk a few years ago. His statement is most misleading and irresponsible! While it is true that the current situation in the country and in particular in Negeri Sembilan is not as serious as in Hong Kong and China or even Singapore, however we should not take chances and must be well prepared and cautious at all time.
The people must dismiss what Lee Yuen Fong said as he don’t seems to be understand or know anything about the virus at all and he should check his facts first before he open his mouth next time. The SARS virus is much more dangerous than the Nipah virus as the SARS virus is transmissible through human to human while the Nipah virus was transmitted from animals. While it was possible to contain the Nipah virus by killing all the animals at the infected areas and restrict its movements, the same cannot be applied to the SARS virus. Even worse still, the current virus is a global phenomenon which transcend boundaries, race, religions or ages.
The war on SARS is far from over and all Malaysians must be cautious at all time and be fully aware and informed about the situation.
* Loke Siew Fook, DAPSY National Secretary and DAP Negeri Sembilan State Secretary