Chua Jui Meng should explain why Singapore could heed the WHO warning last July of a possible dengue pandemic to bring the deadly disease under control but not in Malaysia where it has ballooned into the worst dengue epidemic in nation's history with at least 32,289 cases as on December 28 last year and some 80 deaths, apart from at least six dengue deaths in the first two weeks of the new year

Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Monday): The Health Minister, Datuk Chua Jui Meng, should explain why Singapore could heed the World Health Organisation (WHO) warning last July of a possible dengue pandemic on the scale of the worst recorded dengue year in 1998 to bring the deadly disease under control but not in Malaysia which has ballooned into the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history with at least 32,289 cases as on December 28 last year and some 80 deaths, apart from at least six dengue deaths in the first two weeks of the new year.

In the first 27 weeks of last year until 6th July 2002, Singapore reported 1,038 dengue cases and 6 cases of dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) as compared to 1,013 dengue cases and 5 DHF cases for the same period in 2001.

For the whole of last year, Singapore reported 3,937 dengue cases and eight DHF cases as compared to 2,366 dengue cases and 6 DHF cases for the whole of 2001.

On November 26 last year, the Singapore government in a statement declared that it was "pleased to announce that the dengue situation in Singapore is returning to normal since an increasing trend was first noted in July this year" and that "despite the active transmission of dengue in the region, it has successfully curbed the increasing trend of the disease in Singapore".

It said:

"The incidence of dengue cases has been declining steadily from 159 cases per week in mid-September to 96 cases last week."

The Singapore government statement thanked the Singapore public for their "continued efforts in taking measures to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes in their homes and work premises" as "it is only through such community efforts and vigilance that we can control this disease from spreading".

In Singapore, the WHO warning in July of a possible dengue pandemic never materialized because it was taken seriously by the government and people whose collective anti-dengue efforts succeeded in preventing the dengue threat from materializing and restoring the dengue situation to normal in a matter of five months.

What is the dengue situation in Malaysia after the WHO warning of a possible dengue pandemic last July?

Malaysia is not so fortunate as Singapore, whose government announced in late November that it had brought the deadly disease under control although it still urged the people to maintain constant vigilance as in launching a pioneer Aedes Control and Elimination (ACE) Project in Bukit Panjang on December 28 involving 100 volunteer residents by using a device called an ovitrap to control the aedes mosquito population.

In stark contrast, Malaysia is still in the eye of the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history more than six months after the WHO warning last July, with at least six (I had been referring to five until yesterday) dengue deaths in the first two weeks of the new year, and during this period more than 150 dengue admissions into the Ipoh General hospital alone; Kota Bahru district reporting more dengue cases than previously, with about 250 cases reported so far this year and the figure increasing daily; with similar reports in various parts of the country - such as the crammed dengue cases in the public and private hospitals in Kuala Lumpur.

Yesterday, together with the DAP MP for Bukit Bintang, Fong Kui Lun, DAP Assistant National Organising Secretary, .Vincent Wu, DAP Cheras Parliamentary Liaison Committee Chairman Steven Chan, Special Assistant to the DAP MP for Cheras (Tan Kok Wai) Yaw Kuang Mee, I visited Kampung Sungai Kerayong, Taman, Maluri, Cheras, now scarred by three dengue fatalities and some 20 serious dengue cases although it is a very small kampong.

I met Mohd Wazir Ariffin, 43, attendant at University of Malaya Medical Centre whose two daughters Siti Zalikha Mohd. Wazir, 11, and Siti Zaharah, 13, died of dengue within two days of each other on Christmas Day on Dec. 25 and 27 respectively.

Their neighbour, a 13-year-old Chinese Form Two girl, also succumbed to the dengue epidemic and died at the Tung Shin private hospital in early January.

Another 13-year-old Form Two Malay girl from the kampung, Shafinaz binte Mohd Dzahir was hospitalized for dengue at the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital and we later paid her a visit at the hospital.

Before the death of Wazir's two daughters, there had already been about half a dozen dengue cases in the small kampong, when it should have been declared a dengue "hot spot" after the first reported dengue case. It is sheer negligence on the part of the Health Ministry and Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur that this had not been done to prevent three avoidable deaths and over a dozen new dengue cases.

When we entered Kampung Sungai Kerayong, we saw posters warning that "Aedes mosquito kills" - but these were put up only in the past few days, after aedes mosquitoes had killed three bright and promising young girls and caused some 20 serious dengue cases in the small kampong. The kampong was fogged last Sunday - after three dengue deaths and some 20 dengue cases!

If Kampung Sungai Kerayong had been declared a dengue "hot spot" when the first dengue case was identified, on radio, television and the newspapers, with the combined efforts by the Health Ministry, Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur and the kampong people to cleanse the area of the dengue menace, with fogging operations and a high impact IEC or information, education and communication (including media) campaign, the two Malay girls and one Chinese girl in the kampong would not have died!

What is most shocking is that the villagers had been informed that one reason why Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur had not carried out anti-aedes mosquitoes fogging earlier was because the DBKL had run out of its budget for this provision and had to wait for the budget for the new year. It is completely unacceptable that in a country which talks about Vision 2020 and a fully developed nation, the lives of ordinary people are treated so cheaply by the various government authorities!

I call on the Health Minister, Datuk Chua Jui Meng, the Minister responsible for Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Tengku Adnan bin Tengku Mansor and the Kuala Lumpur Mayor Datuk Mohmad Shaid Bin Mohd Taufek to personally visit Kampung Sungai Kerayong to understand the reign of terror which has taken over the lives of the people in the kampong, who live in fear not knowing when, where and who the deadly aedes mosquito will strike and kill next.

The parents of the 13-year-old Chinese Form Two girl who died of dengue have moved out of the kampong as it has become too dangerous and too sad a place to live. But this is not an option available to everyone of the residents in the area.

When we visited Shafinaz at the Kuala Lumpur general hospital, we found that there is a special dengue ward - Ward 9 - but Shafinaz is in Ward 24. Shafinaz is not the only dengue case not put in the special dengue ward, which has empty beds, as we find that dengue cases are distributed all over the hospital in the various wards instead of being centralized in Ward 9.

There can only be one explanation - not to give the public the impression that dengue is so prevalent, serious and deadly a problem. It would appear that P.R. is more important than saving lives in the nation's worst dengue epidemic which has claimed over 80 lives!

From the dengue patients in the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital yesterday, it is clear that all racial groups are victims of the epidemic, although the urban Malay children are most vulunerable population group both in terms of cases and fatalities in the current dengue epidemic.

The Health Ministry has finally conceded after some 80 deaths that the country is facing the worst dengue epidemic when it admitted that there were 32,289 dengue cases as of 28th December last year (Sin Chew Daily) - in stark contrast to the last official statement by the Ministry of Health on the deadly dengue outbreak made by its parliamentary secretary, S. Sothinathan to AFP on 1st January 2003 that there were only 10,753 confirmed cases nationwide last year.

I find it unbelievable, however, that the Health Ministry is still maintaining the death toll of 57 as at 28th December last year.

The Health Ministry''s dengue cases and death toll as of 28th December 2002 are as follows (Sin Chew):


No. of Dengue cases





Kuala Lumpur












Negeri Sembilan































The death toll of 57 countrywide are far short of the total death tally which have been given by the various state government health officials or state exco members responsible for health, as well as mass media reports and anecdotal accounts of actual deaths, and cast a most adverse reflection on the Health Minister, Datuk Chua Jui Meng, that at this late hour he is still trying to hide the facts about the deadly dengue epidemic from the people of Malaysia when one precious life after another is being lost.

I will give details tomorrow to explain why I believe that the dengue death toll for last year probably exceeds the 80 figure with at least six dengue deaths in the first two weeks of the new year.

I have sent an email to Chua Jui Meng suggesting that he should seek leave from the Cabinet on Wednesday to attend the all-party/professional groups/civic organizations/NGOs/mass media roundtable conference on the dengue epidemic which the DAP has convened at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, 22nd January 2003 at 11 a.m.

This is because his single biggest responsibility now, after allowing the dengue epidemic to get out of hand from 11 dengue deaths in the first six months of last year to some or over 80 deaths at the end of the year and at least another six deaths this year, is to bring the dengue epidemic under control without any more deaths.

All Members of Parliament from all political parties are also invited to the roundtable conference on the dengue epidemic as Malaysians should be able to sink their political differences to save lives of Malaysians.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman