KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 26 — The government will publish an independent committee’s report on the 2016 fire disaster at Sultanah Aminah Hospital (HSA) in Johor Baru once lawsuits on the incident are settled, Khairy Jamaluddin said today.
The families of four of six patients killed in the fire at the Ministry of Health (MOH) facility have sued the government for negligence, one of which was settled in court last year.
“As lawsuits were made by the victims’ next-of-kin, the ministry’s legal advice is to not publish the committee report until the cases are resolved. Once they are settled and there are no issues of sub judice or contempt of court, we will publish the report,” Khairy told reporters at a media conference today.
Khairy previously expressed his commitment to publishing the committee’s report on the fire disaster at HSA that killed six patients five years ago. The independent inquiry was headed by former Court of Appeal judge Mohd Hishamudin Yunus.
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.
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 ongoing lawsuits were secret, including the independent committee’s report that was an official secret of the highest-level classification.
The three ongoing lawsuits were filed by the parents of the deceased Logeswaran Krishnasamy, Choo Lin Fong, and Kaliama Muniandy.
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.