MOH Keeps HSA Fire Report Under Wraps Pending Court Appeal

Counsel for the Sultanah Aminah Hospital fire victims’ families says they are appealing the dismissal of their lawsuits as the government refused to offer them compensation for the deaths.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 – The government has refused to table in Parliament an independent inquiry’s findings on the 2016 Sultanah Aminah Johor Bahru Hospital (HSA) fire, pending a court appeal by three of the victims’ families against the dismissal of their negligence lawsuits.

Gopeng MP Dr Lee Boon Chye had asked in the Special Chambers in the Dewan Rakyat today when the report by the independent committee, headed by former Court of Appeal judge Mohd Hishamudin Yunus, would be tabled in Parliament.

“For Your Honourable’s information, the government is unable to table the Report of the Independent Committee to Investigate the Fire Incident at Sultanah Aminah Hospital Johor Bahru in Parliament, following an appeal filed by the victims’ families on the decision of the High Court in Johor,” Deputy Health Minister Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali said in response.

“Therefore, any revelation or comment on the fire incident is considered sub judice and exposes the government to the risk of contempt of court due to comments on an ongoing court case.”

Counsel acting for the families of three patients who died in the October 25, 2016 fire disaster at HSA — Logeswaran Krishnasamy, Choo Lin Fong, and Kaliama Muniandy — confirmed with CodeBlue that the plaintiffs have filed an appeal against the High Court decision last month that struck out their cases.

The High Court had dismissed the three lawsuits because they were filed beyond the three-year statute of limitations on lawsuits or prosecution of individuals executing public duties. 

“My clients asked for an offer, but the government refused to give any compensation, so they filed an appeal,” lawyer B. Subashini from Zaman & Associates told CodeBlue when contacted.

Six patients were killed overall in the 2016 fire disaster at HSA. The parents of deceased Neeramaladevi Chandran settled their lawsuit against the government in court in 2020 for RM136,000 in damages, while the next-of-kin of two other patients — Yusuf Hasan and Toh Ah Wah – did not initiate litigation. 

Dr Noor Azmi said the government took several measures to ensure that the hospital is safe, though many of the initiatives were carried out in 2017. Two fires occurred again in 2017 and 2020 at HSA, after the 2016 incident.

Dr Noor Azmi said the Health Ministry had allocated RM720,000 for wiring repair works and on a fire protection system. “Nearly all of the work was completed in 2017,” he said.

The MOH had also conducted a comprehensive inspection on the electrical wiring system at HSA. Inspection and testing of electrical system installations are carried out every five years in accordance with safety regulations, Dr Noor Azmi said.

There is also a plan to upgrade the main electrical and mechanical supply system at HSA under the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) worth RM128 million. 

The project aims to provide a fire prevention and electrical system that can accommodate increases in HSA’s electrical load for new medical infrastructure and equipment in line with the hospital’s needs and development of medical services.

The project is at the pre-implementation stage by the Public Works Department (JKR).

You may also like