A Malaysiakini reader by the pseudonym name of ‘Product of the system’ wrote one of the most moving letters I have read for a long time, in conjunction with Malaysia’s 49th Merdeka anniversary. It’s titled Merdeka stories for Pak Lah and Khairy.
Please read and allow your heart to be wrenched by the sad inequality of our system in this rich and abundant nation. I have produced every word of the letter as follows:
A 46-year-old Dewan Bandaraya worker was admitted for progressive, generalised weakness associated with a severe inflammatory rash. Unable even to swallow saliva, nasogastric feeding was started on complete nutrition formula milk. As investigations were carried out to clinch a diagnosis, she developed severe hospital-acquired pneumonia which scarred her lungs extensively.
Due to a severe shortage of beds, the patient was discharged prematurely although she was still bedridden and unable to swallow. Her husband was told that he would have to buy the milk for nasogastric feeding on their own, estimated to cost RM60 per tin, which should last about a week.
A low-ranked clerk in the civil service, he pleaded for goodwill to prevail, that the milk be provided free as they were already unable to cope with the increasing cost of living. He was told however, that he would have to go through the social welfare, the application process of which would take some time.
In the meantime, however, they would have to go home empty handed. Bed-ridden but without a wheelchair, disfigured but not dispirited, too weak to even enter their humble, rented shophouse home, she was sent packing without her only source of nutrition.
For Pak Lah
A 39-year-old mother of six young children presents with severe pneumonia secondary to multiple sclerosis. Paralysed from the neck down, she had Grade III bed sores from prolonged immobilisation. Her chests were hardly expanding due to diaphragmatic fatigue but she otherwise mentally alert and sharp.
The doctor-in-charge started antibiotics but immediately pronounced DNR – do not resuscitate. It simply means that intubation was not to be attempted should her condition deteriorate. One reason behind this rationale was due to the severe shortage of ventilators in the hospital. The family was advised to purchase an oxygen machine as well as a special mattress to prevent further bed sores.
At the mention of the amount, the patient’s husband, a lowly roadside hawker, reacted in shock as there was no way they could ever afford to pay. Referral to social welfare was made, but due to ‘limited funds’, their appeal was rejected. One and a half months later, she lies there still in the ward - too sick to go home, and too poor to get better.
Too tired to continue fighting an incurable illness and too weak to express herself in full, she mustered her remaining strength and begged to be euthanised which, in a sense, is exactly what we are doing – because of a supposed lack of funds in an oil-rich nation.
I can’t imagine what goes through the minds of faceless Malaysians when Abdullah Ahmad Badawi declares prosperity and justice for all Malaysians every Aug 31. There are families too poor to take a bus ride from the hospital back to their kampong and politicians who throw tantrums in public because they were only offered ‘some useless cars’ from the Customs Department.
Our special schools for special children are miserably pathetic yet the ruling feudal masters feel that a RM490 million sports academy is of greater urgency. Our teachers, lecturers and healthcare workers are overworked, understaffed and underpaid but we somehow have RM600 million annually to organise the great Malaysian summer camp a.k.a National Service.
Even as the monkeys in Umno bersilat, brandish their keris and sound the battle cry annually, snatch thieves wield their daggers and rob the lives of innocent Malaysians on a daily basis. We have Umno Youth parading on the streets proclaiming support for Hamas and Hezbollah, but no one to champion the plight of the Pak Ciks debilitated from stroke and cancer.
The cops arrest couples for holding hands in public and crack down on sincere, dissenting voices but ‘close one eye’ when BN warlords contemptuously ignore their traffic summonses and fan racial and religious sentiments in mainstream media.
The BN government spends millions to ‘re-train’ unemployed university graduates after spending years brainwashing them with the nebulous Umno agenda and thereafter expects them to perform in the real world. We have laws criminalising hardworking family physicians while un-taxable illegal immigrants live off the fat of the land without fear of being apprehended and deported. Our local citizens wait for months for an ultrasound scan while Project M citizens have no qualms paying for a RM20,000 angiogram.
The stupidity and ignorance of the current Umno leadership is best exemplified none other by the Putera Umno chief’s vain attempt to ‘re-brand’ the daredevil Mat Rempits, even as hundreds of them are bedridden in our hospitals with vertebral fractures and amputated limbs, and countless more putrefying quietly in the graves of the soil of Malaysia.
The dearth of sound leadership has never been more conspicuous as now. ‘Di mana tiada helang, kata belalang, akulah helang’.
As Malaysians of all colours and creed daily face the threat of choking haze, violent crime, drug abuse, HIV, diabetes and a disproportionate rise in living costs, it seems that the only issue that Umno is concerned with is a non-existent Sino threat to its obsession with Ketuanan Melayu.
As I sit here wishing to do and earn more as a government doctor, something tells me that a young man my age is wishing to have more than a RM9.1 million share and to be more than the prime minister’s son-in-law.
Somewhere else, however, I am reminded of a lady yearning to sweep the filthy streets of Kuala Lumpur like she used to and another who will be eternally grateful just to breathe on her own, even if the air is hazy.
Selamat Hari Kebangsaan ke-49, Saudara Pak Lah dan Khairy ...