KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 – G25 has renewed their call for the release of the independent committee report on the 2016 Sultanah Aminah Hospital fire tragedy, following the recent release of the “Double Six” air tragedy report that took place over four decades ago.
In a statement today, the group of retired high-ranking civil servants urged for the release of the hospital fire report to the public, citing that the Cabinet had already declassified the report in October 2019 with the intention of making it public, and that there are no longer any pending court cases that could justify withholding the report from public access.
“We see no reason why this report should not be made transparent for the public,” G25 said. The group pointed out that former Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had expressed his intention to publish the report, pending approval from the ministry’s legal advisor.
“This was said almost a year ago. We call upon the government to show its sincerity and commitment, and to act accordingly,” the group said. “We hope the government upholds its word and that it is indeed serious about ensuring transparency, accountability, and good governance for a better Malaysia.” G25 made a similar call in October 2019.
A seven-member independent committee, headed by retired Court of Appeal judge Hishamudin Yunus and former Health director-general Dr Abu Bakar Suleiman as deputy chairperson, handed their 230-page report on the Sultanah Aminah Hospital fire to the Ministry of Health (MOH) in June 2018.
The committee was appointed by then-Health Minister Dr S. Subramaniam to investigate the fire at the MOH hospital that broke out on October 25, 2016, in the intensive care unit on the second floor of the facility, killing six patients.
In the same statement, G25 also called for the release of an independent committee report on the management of foreign workers which was submitted to the government in early 2019.
The independent committee was also chaired by Hishamudin Yunus, with former ambassador Noor Farida Ariffin as deputy chairperson. Both are members of the G25.
G25 said the public will be interested to know about the independent committee’s findings on the recruitment and management of foreign workers, which is often shrouded in secrecy and complexity.
The committee’s report could also shed light on potential weaknesses in laws and policies surrounding overseas labour recruitment and uncover any irregularities or corrupt practices. Additionally, the public is concerned about allegations of exploitation and ill-treatment of foreign workers, and hopes the report will provide insight into these issues.
“The public pays over RM20,000 to the recruitment agency to bring in an Indonesian maid. Employers pay highly too, to agents to recruit foreign labour for their factories and plantations. There are all kinds of charges, fees and levies imposed on the employers.
“We would like to know what the committee’s report says about the mechanism to ensure that the charges are not passed on by the employers to their foreign workers, resulting in the workers being bonded as forced labour for life,” G25 said.
“Malaysians are also concerned about whether there are syndicates using corrupt means to arrange for foreign workers to get Malaysian identity cards so that they can become citizens and vote in the elections. This is another serious issue surrounding the recruitment of foreign labour,” the group added.
The Ministry of Transport (MOT) last week released the report on the 1976 crash of the GAF Nomad aircraft of Sabah Air near Kota Kinabalu International Airport. This incident resulted in the loss of several political leaders, including Sabah Chief Minister Tun Fuad Stephen. T
he report’s release is long overdue and commendable, G25 said, as it has brought some measure of justice to the close relatives of the air crash victims.