Call on Cabinet to
lift ban on information and to order full disclosure of worst dengue
epidemic to ensure public confidence in government handling of SARS outbreak
by Lim Kit Siang
Last Saturday, the Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng blamed Malaysians for
being afflicted by the "suspicion culture" and called on the people to stop
spreading baseless rumours about Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in
He said there had been no case of SARS in Malaysia and the people should not
create panic over SARS.
If there is a '"suspicion culture" among Malaysians about the Health
Ministry's handling of SARS, it is completely of Chua's making, as a result
of his chronic mishandling of the worst dengue epidemic with media blackouts
and manipulation of dengue statistics to downplay the gravity of the
incidence of dengue cases and fatalities in the past year.
Even at present, there is a standing Cabinet ban initiated by Chua
prohibiting other Health Ministry officials, Mentris Besar, Chief Ministers
and State health officials from giving the public the latest updates on
dengue cases and deaths.
With such a Health Ministry-induced information blackout of the worst dengue
epidemic in the nation's history, which is still raging unchecked causing
more unnecessary and avoidable deaths, how could Chua expect to create
public confidence and credibility in the Health Ministry's handling of
epidemics or killer disease outbreaks like SARS?
If the Health Ministry cannot be trusted on the dengue epidemic, how could
it be trusted on the SARS outbreak?
As a first step to fully restore public confidence in the Health Ministry's
handling of public health hazards, in particular SARS with reports of
suspected cases in the country, DAP calls on the Cabinet on Wednesday to
lift the ban on information and to order a full disclosure of the worst
dengue epidemic in Malaysia since its outbreak in the past year.
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National