Email to Chua Jui Meng to extend to Monday challenge to a one-to-one "Tell and Clear All" session to get to the bottom of the dengue epidemic

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Friday): I have emailed to the Health Minister, Datuk Chua Jui Meng, extending to Monday my challenge to him to a one-to-one "Tell and Clear All" session to get to the bottom of the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history.

I had issued the challenge on Wednesday in response to Chua's 11-page parliamentary answer on the dengue epidemic the previous day, where he manipulated dengue statistics while giving a most dishonest and unsatisfactory account of his mishandling of the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history.

Chua should welcome such a one-to-one "Tell and Clear All" session on the dengue epidemic, as he has behind him the entire personnel and resources of the Health Ministry, which was allocated the massive sums of RM6.3 billion in the 2003 budget, together with all the facts and figures denied to others, while I am completely alone, with no control of any research unit or machinery or a single sen of fund to discover facts about the dengue epidemic.

I should be the one who should be frightened in a one-to-one "Tell and Clear All" session to get to the bottom of the dengue epidemic, and not him, since I have no objection if he comes with an army of his top Health Ministry professionals and experts.

But it would appear that it is Chua who is afraid of such a one-to-one "Tell and Clear All" session to get to the bottom of the worst dengue epidemic facing the country, and not me. Why is this so?

The answer is probably to be found in the saying, "True Gold is not afraid of Furnace Fire".

In Parliament on Tuesday, Chua made the shocking admission that there were 11 dengue deaths this year till February 22, which should have made front-page news headlines in all the newspapers the next day - when a single life lost in a country which boasts of "First World Infrastructure" must be taken as one death too many, especially when it is so unnecessary and avoidable after some 10 months of the dengue epidemic!

But this was not the case, and Chua's shocking and sensational admission for the first time of 11 dengue deaths was lost, hidden in some obscure news column in all the press coverage - a sad indication of how cheap life in Malaysia has become as in many Third World countries despite our "First World Infrastructure".

Today, the first hot news of Bernama online was "S'pore Monitoring Pneumonia Cases After WHO Alert", following the global alert by the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued in Geneva over a possible severe form of pneumonia, following outbreaks in Vietnam and southern China which spread to hospital staff treating patients.

The alert followed reports from health authorities in the countries involved of "atypical pneumonia", including about 305 cases and five deaths since November last year in China's southern Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong.

Chua could find the time last month to comment on the pneumonia outbreak in China but remained utterly indifferent to the dengue epidemic at home which according to him claimed 11 lives this year till February 22!

Chua had not only understated the actual number of dengue deaths this year as well as last year, he had not told MPs the real truth about more dengue deaths since February 22, although he gets weekly update on information about the latest dengue cases and fatalities!

If Chua backs out of a a one-to-one session to establish the real truth about the dengue epidemic despite the extension of the challenge to Monday, I will not hesitate to give a full briefing to Members of Parliament about Chua's irresponsible mishandling of the dengue epidemic.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman