DAP emails four-point proposal to Mahathir to urgently tackle the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history with at least 60 deaths last year which exceed the 1998 totals for dengue cases and fatalities

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): I have emailed to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad making a four-point proposal to urgently tackle the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history with at least 60 deaths last year which exceeded the 1998 totals for dengue cases and fatalities.

Until last year, 1998 was the worst dengue year which reported 27,379 dengue cases and 58 deaths countrywide. For the whole of last year, the number of dengue cases exceeded 30,000 cases with at least 60 deaths although no national official statistics have yet been released.

The four proposals I made in my email to the Prime Minister are:

  1. The Cabinet tomorrow should declare a dengue epidemic and nation-wide dengue alert with over 30,000 dengue cases and at least 60 dengue deaths last year - with at least two cases of dengue deaths on the first day of 2003 on January 1, one in Kuantan and the other in Ipoh.;

  2. Establishment of a Cabinet Committee under the chairmanship of Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to spearhead the war against dengue and aedes mosquitoes and end the bickering between the Health Ministry and Housing and Local Government Ministry to avoid responsibility for the dengue outbreak;

  3. Immediate release to the public of all data about the dengue outbreak last year, with a month-by-month and state-by state breakdown of the number of dengue cases and fatalities, as well as their incidence according to locality, age, gender and ethnicity.

  4. Suspend Datuk Chua Jui Meng and Datuk Ong Ka Ting as Minister for Health and Minister for Housing and Local Government respectively for their failure to heed the July warning of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and to take effective anti-dengue counter-measures as well as the misinformation campaign lulling Malaysians into complacency about the lethal dengue outbreak.

In my email to Mahahtir, I had also suggested that the Cabinet Committee on Dengue Epidemic should have seven specific terms of reference, viz:

  • Spearhead the war against the dengue epidemic with a nation-wide alert and awareness campaign on the dengue outbreak, in particular the areas with reported dengue cases and fatalities.

  • Review the misinformation policy adopted by the government during the dengue outbreak last year and to draw up a new information policy in keeping with a knowledge economy and information society to inform, enlighten and educate the people instead of the current practices of certain Ministries to obstruct, obscure and obfuscate the free flow of information.

  • Review the Health Ministry website,, and the homepages of all state health departments, which are all expensive, elaborate but useless government "cobwebsite" which conceal rather than reveal information to the people about public health. There was not a single information either on any Health Ministry or state health department website about the dengue epidemic for the whole of last year although it replaced 1998 as the worst dengue year with more than 30,000 dengue cases and more than 60 deaths. As the Health Ministry's "cobwebsites" are not peculiar to one Ministry, but a prevalent disease of all government websites, this should lead to a new policy and revamp of all government websites and a new clients' charter on government IT policy.

  • Review of the inter-ministry bickering and squabbling between the Health Ministry and the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, not over turf and territorial aggrandizement but to avoid major responsibility for the dengue outbreak - which has proved so costly both in terms of human suffering and avoidable deaths, and a policy to prevent such negative and disastrous inter-Ministry and inter-departmental squabbles.

  • Disciplinary action against government officials who openly mislead the people about the seriousness of the dengue epidemic, such as the parliamentary secretary to the Ministry of Health, S. Sothinathan who told AFP last Thursday that there were 10,753 dengue cases last year when the figure exceeded 30,000 cases.

  • Review and abolish government's policy of press and media control which had inhibited free reporting on the dengue outbreak, which could have served as a check on government inefficiency, incompetence and irresponsibility in the public interest. Berita Harian in its editorial today "Kerahsian kes denggi dipersoal" asked why there is a conflict of figures about dengue outbreak, with national figures much lower than state figures. If such questions had been asked a few months back, more lives would have been saved!

  • Establishment of a special fund to give ex gratia payment as compensation to families of the over 60 dengue fatalities last year, when government negligence is such a large factor in failing to bring the dengue epidemic under control.

It is a crying shame and a terrible reflection on the professionalism and commitment of the Health Ministry that it did not release the latest nation-wide data about the dengue epidemic, but that such information had to come inadvertently from the Selangor exco member in charge of health, Datuk Tang See Hang when giving the latest updates on the dengue outbreak in the Selangor state.

Tang said that as of December 14, the data on dengue cases and fatalities were 29,615 cases and 53 deaths as follows:


No. of Dengue cases





Kuala Lumpur












Negeri Sembilan






























These are clearly incomplete figures, as it did not include the latest update of 20 deaths in Johore and five deaths in Negri Sembilan for last year given by the state government authorities at the latter part of December, which would bring the total dengue fatalities to over 60 last year. There can also be no doubt that the total number of dengue cases nationwide would be over 30,000 cases if the whole year is taken into account.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman