Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, 11th August 2009:
Large-scale H1N1 awareness campaign welcome but why so belated – after 33 deaths and some 2,000 cases?
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday announced that the government will launch a large-scale public awareness campaign on influenza A(H1N1) beginning this week to educate the public on the pandemic in view of the worsening scenario in the country.
This is a welcome though belated initiative and the questions uppermost in everyone’s mind is why this decision was taken so late, after 33 deaths and some 2,000 cases.
Furthermore, why must it take the Prime Minister to intervene personally before such a decision is taken? What then is the use of having a Health Minister?
Would more lives had been saved if the large-scale public awareness campaign had been launched when the first death from the A (H1N1) flu had occurred 25 days ago on July 16?
It is not only the Health Minister who had failed to provide the proper leadership in the campaign against A (H1N1) flu, even the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who headed the inter-ministerial committee on A (H1N1) was guilty of a most flippant and irresponsible attitude with his shocking remark: "Even if I am health minister, I cannot guarantee your safety."
Is Najib going to replace Muhyiddin and personally take over the Cabinet Committee for A (H1N1) to provide the necessary leadership and proper motiviation?
Before last Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, I had been pressurizing the Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai to convince the Cabinet to give top priority to the war against the killer A (H1N1) pandemic as well as the dengue epidemic but my calls fell on deaf ears.
I had warned Liow that he cannot be serious about his ministerial commitment to provide the best health services in the country when on the health front, the war against the killer A(H1N1) pandemic and the killer dengue epidemic are excluded from the National Key Result Areas (NKRAs) recently announced by the Prime Minister as both killer diseases are long-term national threats.
I could not hide my disappointment when the Cabinet last Wednesday failed to rise up to the occasion to include as the seventh NKRA the war against the killer A(H1N1) flu pandemic and the killer dengue epidemic, with daily, weekly, monthly, six-monthly and annual targets.
The Cabinet should not disappoint Malaysians at its meeting tomorrow and demonstrate that it is serious about the A (H1N1) flu pandemic and dengue epidemic killer outbreaks with commensurate contingency plans to deal with both, including incorporation into the NKRAs as benchmarks to evaluate ministerial and cabinet performance.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor