Who were the real killers of the two Malay and one Chinese girls in Kampung Sungai Kerayong who died of dengue within 17 days - aedes mosquitoes or ministerial negligence and irresponsibility in bringing the worst dengue epidemic under control despite the WHO warning last July?

DAP National Round Table Conference on the Dengue Epidemic
by Lim Kit Siang

(Kuala Lumpur, Wednesday): Yesterday, together with the DAP MP for Bukit Bintang, Fong Kui Lun, DAP, I went back to Kampung Sungai Kerayong, Taman Maluri, Cheras and confirmed that the third dengue death in the small kampong was Wong Pui San, 13, of No. 12, Kampung Sungai Kerayong, a Form II student with Bukit Nanas Convent who died of dengue at the Tung Shin private hospital on January 11, 2003.

Together with Kui Lun and the DAP MP for Cheras, Tan Kok Wai, I also visited Bukit Nenas Convent and heard the sad sale of a bright and promising girl from a poor family, who scored 5As in the UPSR, whose life was wiped out in the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history.

Wong was supposed to enter into Form II (Class 2K) but she never made it to school in the new year, as a day before the school re-opening, she was struck down with dengue fever on January 5. Wong's father, Wong Swee Weng is a retired hawker who has become so depressed by his youngest daughter's unnecessary and avoidable death that she and his wife have left Kampung Sungai Kerayong.

The small Kampung Sungai Kerayong with some 50 houses has three dengue deaths and some 20 dengue cases, some very critical ones.

Three days ago, during my first visit to the 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.

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 Dewan 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 the previous 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 had called 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. But as usual, there had been no response from the VIPs who have no time for the plight and misery of ordinary people even in the very heart of the Federal capital.

Last Sunday, we also visited another 13-year-old Form Two Malay girl from the kampung, Shafinaz binte Mohd Dzahir who was hospitalized for dengue at the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital.

When we visited Shafinaz at the Kuala Lumpur general hospital, we found that there was a special dengue ward - Ward 9 - but Shafinaz was in Ward 24. Shafinaz was not the only dengue case not put in the special dengue ward, which had empty beds, as we found that dengue cases were 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 could have claimed as many as over 80 lives last year!

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

It is not only the bereaved Wazir and Wong families, but also the people of Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia, who are entitled to ask - Who were the real killers of the two Malay and one Chinese girls in Kampung Sungai Kerayong who died of dengue within 17 days from December last year to January 11 - aedes mosquitoes or ministerial negligence and irresponsibility in failing to bring the worst dengue epidemic in the country under control after more than six months despite the WHO warning last July?

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.
Lim Kit Siang


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman