Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Can we have the truth?

The Hepatitis C virus infections at the renal ward of the Singapore General Hospital saga has shown the glaring ineptitude of the PAP Government in a cover-up of the medical mishap of such magnitude from the public until October  when the discovery was made in April/May. What really dismayed the public was the wide gap of misadministration when the MOH's Director of Medical Service knew of the existence of the cluster of 22 infections on 3 September and 18 September when the Minister for Health was informed of the cluster. And the public was only informed in October. It just is not the kind of confidence to be given to the public of the ineptitude of the Healthcare system when six inexplicable deaths were involved and the public only came to know about them so long after.

The attitude of the Minister for Health in all these ill-boded events seems so remotely in evidence. He seemed to accept the late reporting of the cluster to him as something normal and quite contented to allow his officials to handle the incident apparently without oversight. This seems to be supported by the letter of his Press Secretary to the Straits Times Forum on 20 October. There could be no question that the formation of the independent review committee could not have been done without his knowledge or imprimatur.

But is the independent review committee really the answer to the task of thoroughly investigating the unfortunate outbreak of Hepatitis C virus infections at the renal ward and the inexplicable inordinate delay in announcing it to the public? The composition of the committee is such that it may not be able to act freely and independently without awkward constraints. It is hardly in the public interest if its report is not independent in the strictest sense.

The PAP Government should therefore seriously consider the suggestion of the Workers' Party to constitute a Committee of Inquiry in place of the review committee to look thoroughly into the incident. The Government should not adopt a head-in-the-sand attitude just because the suggestion came from the Workers' Party. NCMP Leon Perera who acts for WP in making the suggestion is to all intents and purposes doing it in the public interest and is not trying to be one up on the PAP. So the automatic reaction of immediately putting the WP on the defence without examining the merits of the suggestion may not go down well with the public but the PAP flush with their recent GE victory may choose to ride roughshod over the WP's suggestion with impunity. There is nothing the WP or the public can do if this is how the PAP wants to show its hubris.

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