Wednesday briefing to MPs on how Chua Jui Meng mishandled the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history and which is still raging unchecked and causing unnecessary and avoidable deaths

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Monday): I have accepted the invitation extended by DAP Members of Parliament to give a briefing to interested MPs in Parliament House on how the Health Minister, Datuk Chua Jui Meng, had mishandled the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history which is still raging unchecked and causing unnecessary and avoidable deaths, after having claimed the most number of lives and caused the most number of dengue cases - even worse than 1998, the worst recorded year for dengue in Malaysia.

Chua had correctly responded promptly to the World Health Organisation (WHO) global pneumonia alert by putting all clinics, hospitals and laboratories in the country on pneumonia alert following the outbreak of a mysterious respiratory illness which has been named "severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)" in Asia
Ironically, this incident has highlighted the scandal of the Health Minister knowing nothing about the WHO global dengue alert issued in July last year, warning that the number of new dengue cases for the whole of last year could exceed the record set in 1998 when more than 1.2 million new cases were registered - resulting in no response whatsoever from Chua.

At the time, WHO disease control specialist Dr. Mike Nathan said the risk of contracting the dengue disease was increasing among 2.5 billion people, two-fifths of the world's population, and he called on governments to take effective counter-measures.

I have asked DAP MP for Batu Gajah, Fong Po Kuan, who is organizing the briefing, to change the date originally proposed for tomorrow to Wednesday, 19th March 2003 at 11.30 a.m., as I would be in the Federal Court tomorrow for the appeal of former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim against his conviction and six-year sentence for corruption.

A new Chief Justice of the Federal Court has assumed office today, with Tan Sri Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim replacing Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah.

Malaysians hope that the start of a new Chief Justice will also be marked by a new era of justice, and there is no better start for such a new era of justice than for the quashing of Anwar's conviction and sentence for corruption, as the case was one of the causes of the crisis of confidence which plagued the judiciary.

I welcome the opportunity to meet and discuss with MPs, whether Barisan Nasional, Barisan Alternative or DAP on the worst dengue epidemic in the country as it is raging unchecked and killing more people, and its mishandling by the Health Minister, as all leaders in the country must unite on the common platform to minimize suffering and save lives by bringing the dengue epidemic under control.

There is no reason why MPs cannot succeed where the Health Minister had failed - to end the long list of unnecessary and avoidable deaths caused by aedes mosquito because of a lack of a nation-wide alert and awareness of the killer dengue disease.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman