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Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Wednesday, 31st January 2008:

Karpal Singh takes up three-month jailing of Dr. Basmullah Yusom, the first doctor to be jailed under a technicality under PHFSA as pro bono publico to get him released from Kajang Prison

DAP National Chairman Karpal Singh will take up the case of Dr. Basmullah Yusom, 44, the first doctor to be jailed under a technicality under the Private Health Facilities and Services Act (PHFSA) 1998 as pro bono publico to get him released from Kajang Prison.

As reported by New Straits Times on 19th November 2008, Dr. Basmullah has earned the dubious reputation of being the first person to be convicted under the PHFSA for not registering his 10-year-old clinic in Desa Pandan, Kuala Lumpur.

Fined RM120, 000 or three months jail, Dr. Basmullah had been languishing in Kajang Prison for the past fortnight as he does not have the money to pay the fine.

In Penang on Sunday, I had called on the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Gani Patail to intervene in this case of grave injustice and to invoke the revisionary powers inherent in his office to call up Dr. Basmullah’s case to get the Univeristi Sains Malaysia (USM) - trained doctor and father of eight out of jail without any moment of delay.

Alternatively, I had also called on the Chief Judge of Malaya or the Chief Justice of Malaysia to invoke their revisionary powers to call up the case to quash the jail sentence imposed on Dr. Basmullah.

Unfortunately, there has been no response whatsoever from the Attorney-General’s Office or the judiciary.

This was why DAP MP for Ipoh Barat, M. Kulasegaran and I visited Kajang Prisons two days ago where we received confirmation that Dr. Basmullah was serving his jail sentence although we did not get to see him.

I have since been in contact with Dr. Basmullah’s wife, Nurlizah Hassan, who also met Karpal over Dr. Basmullah’s jail term.

I am most disappointed by the indifference and inaction of the Acting Health Minister, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting over such a blatant and flagrant injustice which has occurred directly under his turf, especially as the previous Health Minister and Director-General of Health Services had given repeated assurances that no doctor would be jailed over a technicality under the PHFSA.

This is why a “Don’t Jail Doctors Blog Campaign” has been launched on the Internet by Palmdoc, with the following protest:

“The Government has begun to arrest and jail doctors on a technicality - not registering their clinic with the PHFSA. This act treats doctors like common criminals. These are community doctors who have not committed a serious crime but instead face an incredibly harsh sentence for their technical lapse. Dr Basmullah Yusom, a family practitioner, is the first victim of this legislation. He was sentenced despite not having legal counsel representing him, despite pleading for leniency (he had wanted to sell the clinic anyway and is in financial trouble) and as he could not pay the hefty RM 120,000 fine, he is now in Kajang prison.

“The ex-Health Minister had promised that the Act would be used only against bogus doctors and bogus clinics. Yet, we see that legitimate licensed APC holding medical practitioners are now being targeted. ”

If Ong Ka Ting does not know what to do in the Dr. Basmullah case, he should ask the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to relieve him from the Ministry appoint another Acting Health Minister who can be hands-on to immediately respond to all problems relating to the health and medical system in the country – and not subjecting the country to the disaster of total silence for two weeks from the No. 1 man in the Health Ministry on the Dr. Basmullah jail-sentence scandal.

In this connection, I also call on the Malaysian Medical Association and all medical-related organizations to speak up loud and clear to ask the Attorney-General, the Chief Judge of Malaya or Chief Justice of Malaysia to intervene by calling up Dr. Basmullah’s sentence for revision without having to wait for Karpal to institute legal proceedings which will take time – especially with the various impending public holidays – and involve more delays and injustice.

Let Malaysians show the world that we – the government, the judiciary, the professions and the civil society - are capable of quick and fast action so that injustice meted out to Dr. Basmullah is not prolonged another day!

* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman


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