KUALA LUMPUR, June 29 — Members of Parliament have demanded the publication of an independent inquiry’s investigation into the 2016 fire at Sultanah Aminah Hospital (HSA) that killed six patients.
Their remarks came after another fire broke out yesterday at the women’s medical ward of the public hospital in Johor Baru, Johor, though it did not result in casualties or severe injuries.
“Hospitals are safe spaces, given that operations and other life-supporting protocols are administered — so the highest levels of scrutiny is necessary, including accountability in Parliament,” Klang MP Charles Santiago told CodeBlue.
“This is not the first time a public hospital is on fire — Queen Elizabeth in KK, Sultanah Aminah is the second time. This shows that maintenance of our hospitals needs to be reviewed in a periodic fashion.
“Furthermore, it is important to look at all hospitals as many of them are old buildings and new ones which suffer from poor maintenance and structural problems,” added the DAP lawmaker.
In March 2017, after the fatal October 2016 fire at HSA, Parliament was informed that the Ministry of Health (MOH) carried out fire safety audits, with the Fire and Rescue, and Public Works departments, in 46 public hospitals more than 50 years old. The audits reportedly identified a “large number” of hospitals as fire hazards, according to then-Deputy Health Minister Dr Hilmi Yahaya.
Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching similarly called for the report by the independent inquiry into the 2016 HSA blaze, chaired by former Court of Appeal judge Mohd Hishamudin Yunus, to be made public.
“The families of the deceased have the right to know, also the general public. Government should not classify the report just to protect themselves, unless it involves national security, then different story,” the Johor lawmaker told CodeBlue.
CodeBlue reported last March the findings of the independent inquiry that the then-Pakatan Harapan (PH) government had declassified from the Official Secrets Act (OSA) in October last year. The investigation, which was commissioned by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration, found that HSA had operated illegally without a fire certificate since 2002.
It also found that none of the staff at the South ICU, where the fire broke out, had undergone training in fire drills or emergency evacuation, despite four previous fire outbreaks in the ward before the October 25, 2016 blaze.
The inquiry further accused Medivest Sdn Bhd, a hospital support services company serving HSA, of providing the MOH hospital a malfunctioning fire extinguisher.
Setiawangsa MP Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad from PKR similarly told CodeBlue that the inquiry’s report should be released to the public and debated in Parliament, saying: “Patients’ and health workers’ lives must be priority.”