KUALA LUMPUR, June 29 — Najib Razak and two Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders have called for the public release of the independent inquiry’s report into the 2016 fire at Sultanah Aminah Hospital (HSA).
Former Prime Minister Najib pointed out that the inquiry led by former Court of Appeal judge Mohd Hishamudin Yunus had handed its report to the government in June 2018, but the then-Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration did not release it until the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government formally took power in March. The health minister under PH was Dzulkefly Ahmad.
“In my opinion, the PN government should publish the report immediately as it has long been completed,” Najib said in a statement today.
The Pekan MP from Umno also pointed out that the-then Barisan Nasional (BN) administration, in 2016, pledged not to protect any parties, including Ministry of Health (MOH) staff or private companies responsible for maintenance and management of the HSA building.
Another blaze broke out at HSA yesterday, this time at the women’s ward of the MOH hospital in Johor Baru, Johor, but it did not result in casualties or serious injuries; the fire however forced the evacuation of 24 patients, some of whom were transferred to another hospital. The 2016 blaze had engulfed the south ICU of the public hospital, killing six patients.
Johor Baru MP Akmal Nasir echoed Najib’s demand for the publication of the independent inquiry’s report, saying in a statement: “I urge the government to table and debate the report in the upcoming Parliament meeting.
“At the same time, the open tabling of the report is important for the sake of transparency and accountability.”
The PKR Youth wing chief pointed out that as a member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), each PAC report tabled is followed by suggestions for improvement, according to Parliament rules.
“Since this report has been completed since 2018, the people should reasonably be informed of what action has been taken to improve weaknesses and to increase preparedness in facing fire disasters in hospitals,” Akmal said today.
“Through the tabling and debate of the 2016 fire tragedy report in Parliament, Members of Parliament can perform check and balance to push the government to take seriously the safety and wellness of national health services, and to see if there is a need for funds and additional allocations for the maintenance and upgrade of government hospitals and clinics.”
Of note, Akmal opined that “if the articles published by CodeBlue are not accurate, then the independent committee’s report should therefore be released to the public so that the actual information can be obtained.”
CodeBlue editor-in-chief Boo Su-Lyn is under a police investigation, believed to be related to the Penal Code and the Official Secrets Act (OSA), over her series of four articles published last March on the findings of the independent inquiry into the fatal 2016 HSA fire. Boo reported Dzulkefly as saying last February 24 that the report has been declassified as a state secret.
Malaysiakini reported yesterday the police’s clarification that Boo was being investigated under Section 203A of the Penal Code. The news portal further reported that Hishamudin has been called up for the police in an investigation also under that provision.
Section 203A criminalises the act of disclosing any information or matter obtained by a person in the performance of their duties or in the exercise of their functions under any written law. It also criminalises knowingly being in possession of such information or matter and further disclosing it to any other person.
Johor DAP chairman Liew Chin Tong, in a press statement today, similarly urged the government to release the Hishamudin inquiry report and to ensure that all recommendations are followed to prevent any further disasters.
“The government is clearly missing the point and seems adamant to silence any critics of the current administration,” Liew said.
“Findings from the inquiry report are a matter of public interest and should be disclosed as a learning for everyone to improve the existing conditions and procedures at our hospitals.
“The fire that happened yesterday afternoon is a clear testimony to the adage ‘those who don’t learn from history are bound to repeat it’,” said the former senator.
Najib similarly criticised the police investigation against Boo.
“I also urge the PDRM (Royal Malaysia Police) and the Attorney General’s office not to take drastic action against Boo Su-Lyn as I see her sincerity in trying to improve Malaysia’s health care system,” Najib wrote.
He further shared that the CodeBlue editor-in-chief had previously criticised the mySalam health protection scheme initiated by the then-PH government, in partnership with Singaporean insurance company Great Eastern, a project which Najib described had “irrational returns and caused great losses to the country”.
“Boo wrote about the Hospital Sultanah Aminah report from 2019 to March 2020 because she did not want a repeat of the fire tragedy. Unfortunately, Hospital Sultanah Aminah was on fire again.”