Malaysia’s Ministry Of Health Prompt Response In Debunking Fallacies; The Independent Singapore Retracts Its Inflammatory Post

Local socio-political news site The Independent Singapore on Sunday (Sept 3) took down an article claiming that a Singaporean had died after a Malaysian hospital demanded payment before treating him, and apologised “for the anguish and distress this incident has caused”.

Thanking all Malaysians who “supported and (stood) tall” with his ministry in a Facebook post on Sunday, director-general of Malaysia’s Ministry of Health Noor Hisham Abdullah said “our prompt response debunking fallacies (has) resulted in an otherwise arrogant Singaporean portal” retracting its post. He also said The Independent had initially defended its article and had blocked Malaysian IPs from accessing it.

Asked by TODAY about the incident, site publisher Kumaran Pillai said the article was taken down at 8.30am on Sunday to “defuse the situation”.

He added that “a wave of netizens from Malaysia” had flooded the site’s Facebook page last Saturday at around 10pm calling for the article to be taken down, which led the team to geo-block Malaysians.

Then, a “series of attacks” brought its site down, which could only be restored Sunday morning. The netizens also left comments, some of which were “inflammatory and racially explosive”.

Last Saturday, the Malaysian Health Ministry had said it would lodge a formal complaint with Singapore over allegations made in online reports on the death of 25-year-old Singaporean Justinian Tan which had hurt the country’s image as well as the reputation of its healthcare workers.

Tan and a friend, who were in Johor Baru for supper with four others, were injured in a hit-and-run accident on Aug 25. Mr Joshua De Rozario, one of those in the group, had told media that the ambulance took 30 minutes to arrive.

When they arrived at Johor’s largest hospital, the Sultanah Aminah Hospital, he said they were asked to pay RM2,700 (S$860) before the medical crew would conduct scans on the two men. The hospital then requested another RM1,350 for Tan’s operation, but the family asked for him to be transferred to Singapore General Hospital (SGH) after learning the brain operation would be conducted by a “medical officer” instead of a surgeon.

Tan was pronounced brain dead at SGH last Monday, and taken off life support early on Wednesday.

Malaysia had refuted the allegations, with Dr Hisham issuing a statement last Friday that a team at the hospital’s emergency department initiated the necessary X-rays and scans, as well as treatment such as intubation, “in a very timely and professional manner, without asking for any deposit since this is an emergency case”.

He also said the ambulance had responded in a “very timely” manner, with a “despatch time of two minutes and response time of 13 minutes”.



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