KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 — Lawmakers and the independent committee which investigated a fatal fire at Sultanah Aminah Hospital have called for a parliamentary debate on the inquiry that remains a state secret, three years after the tragedy.
“Certainly, it ought to be debated,” said the head of the investigation committee, Mohd Hishamudin Yunus, when contacted by CodeBlue.
“The wish to have it made public is in the recommendations. The recommendations are collectively agreed by all members, without any reservation.”
Mohd Hishamudin, who is a former Court of Appeal judge, also welcomed a story in the media on the fire that broke out on October 25, 2016, in the intensive care unit of the Ministry of Health (MOH) hospital in Johor Baru, Johor, killing six patients.
Hishamudin suggested that the debate be conducted in the human rights parliamentary select committee.
“Yes, this is the closest, as so far there is no select committee on hospitals or public health.”
The rights and gender equality Parliament special select committee is chaired by Merbok MP Nor Azrina Surip (PKR) and comprises lawmakers Klang MP Charles Santiago (DAP), Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil (PKR), Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto (DAP), Kalabakan MP Ma’mun Sulaiman (Warisan), Kuala Kangsar MP Mastura Mohd Yazid (Umno), and Rantau Panjang MP Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff (PAS).
Two Members of Parliament, who did not want to be named, also expressed their support for the report on the Sultanah Aminah Hospital fire to be debated in Parliament.
“The report must be made public and must be accessible to everyone who wants to know the truth of what happened that day, as this would ensure transparency and integrity of the investigative committee as well as the government,” said a Pakatan Harapan (PH) MP, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject.
Another government MP said on condition of anonymity: “Putting the report out there is very important to ensure this accident doesn’t repeat itself in another premise, and will allow hospitals to enhance their safety and disaster management procedures.”
Last month, G25, a group of retired high-ranking civil servants, urged the government to publish the findings of the inquiry into the fire at the public hospital, suggesting that the report be tabled for debate in a parliamentary select committee.
The seven-member investigation committee led by Hishamudin, who is currently a member of the Judicial Appointments Commission, handed their 230-page report on the Sultanah Aminah Hospital fire to MOH in June 2018.
Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said last year that he has no jurisdiction over making the report public as the investigation was conducted by a special committee under the Cabinet, and therefore, any findings should be presented to the Cabinet first for approval.
But in October this year, he revealed that he will announce the details of the incident in a press conference in early November. Even so, there was no update on releasing the report.
“The Cabinet has decided to be transparent on the findings and we are in the midst of declassifying the document so that it can be made public.
“What we want is transparency, including the weaknesses of the hospital or others (agencies), which will be revealed next week,” Dzulkefly was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times last October 31.