KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 7 — Khairy Jamaluddin today expressed his commitment to publish an independent committee’s report on the fire disaster at Sultanah Aminah Hospital (HSA) in Johor Baru that killed six patients five years ago.
The health minister said he has requested the Ministry of Health (MOH) to brief him on the findings by the independent inquiry headed by former Court of Appeal judge Mohd Hishamudin Yunus on the October 25, 2016 fire at the Johor public hospital.
“Our commitment to table the report remains, just that I will ask the Ministry of Health’s legal advisor to give their opinion on a few pending court cases in the context of tabling the report for the public,” Khairy told a virtual press conference.
CodeBlue published in March 2020 four articles on the independent inquiry that concluded, among numerous disturbing findings, that one of the underlying causes for the loss of six lives in the 2016 fire at the south intensive care unit (ICU) of HSA was the lack of preparedness by hospital management and staff.
None of the South ICU staff had undergone training in fire drills or emergency evacuation, despite four previous fire outbreaks in the ward in 2008, 2010, and May and October 14, 2016 before the October 25 blaze, according to the independent committee’s report.
The families of three patients killed in the fire disaster subsequently sued the government for negligence in September last year after reading CodeBlue’s reports on the independent inquiry’s findings.
Court documents featured complaints by the parents of Logeswaran Krishnasamy (then aged 20), Choo Lin Fong (then aged 37), and Kaliama Muniandy (then aged 22) about MOH withholding all information about the fire, including police and Bomba investigation reports, as well as the independent inquiry’s findings, and even their children’s post-mortem reports and medical records.
HSA director Dr Mohtar Pungut said in affidavits filed in the High Court in Johor Baru last December 23 that the documents sought by the plaintiffs in the three lawsuits were secret, including the independent committee’s report that was an official secret of the highest-level classification.
Then-Health Minister Dr Adham Baba, however, said in written parliamentary reply in August last year that MOH had declassified the independent committee’s report on October 15, 2019, after the Cabinet decided on October 2, 2019, for MOH to release the report.
The parents of a fourth victim, Neeramaladevi Chandran who died at age 24, settled their lawsuit with the government in August 2020 for RM136,000, after filing suit on October 24, 2019, the last day to file before the expiry of the three-year statute of limitations.