20151028 Hepatitis C outbreak – why is the government afraid of convening a COI?

I refer to CNA’s “Govt will convene COI on Hep C cluster if WP is prepared to present evidence for allegations: MOH”.

Minister Gan seems confused/doesn’t know his job or perhaps he is just trying to confuse the public with an outrageous substantiate-your-allegation smokescreen. Gan owes it to the family members of the deceased to convene a COI because procedural lapses by public officers have probably resulted in 8 deaths.

Gan should bear in mind that when the government convened the Little India riot COI, there wasn’t a single death resulting from police action and no allegation of improper police conduct. As regard the SMRT major disruptions COI there was no loss of life and no allegation of wrongdoing by SMRT’s Ferrari-driving CEO.

The first question on Gan’s mind should have been why was he informed only 6 months after the first incident in April. Members of the review committee are also perceived by Singaporeans as not independent and this will lead to more erosion of public trust of the government. This is similar to the review of AIM by MND which was another case of “own self check own self”.

May I humbly direct Gan to the Inquiries Act (Chapter 139A) on the appointment of committees of inquiry (screenshot below).

It is stated very clearly in our statutes and a responsible MOH should have already convened a COI: there are deaths, procedural lapses endangering public safety or public health, etc. Instead, MOH appears to be deflecting the issue and trying to mitigate the potential political fallout. If not, why is MOH reluctant to state it will hold public servants accountable?

If the government wants to involve the police because of a remote chance of foul play, then why wasn’t the police called in for the SMRT incidents when there was a real possibility of sabotage? Did someone stage the incident leading to the Little India riot? I mean, we don’t know since the police weren’t involved right?

By refusing to convene a COI with crappy reasons, MOH will be increasingly distrusted by the public. The refusal to address the issue of transparency and accountability has also led to more thinking Singaporeans suspecting there is more than meets the eye.

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4 Responses to 20151028 Hepatitis C outbreak – why is the government afraid of convening a COI?

  1. James says:

    Hahaha, isn’t obvious that the avoidance of a COI is to prevent the truth from being revealed? And MOH’s reluctance strongly suggests that the guilty party is MOH itself. But it doesn’t matter. No matter what sin they commit, 70% of Singaporeans will still support them.

  2. Qiao Zhi says:

    You made a very valid point with the Little India riot and the MRT COIs comparison.
    There certainly is a very strong case for a COI to be held to exhaustively examine/trace/track the reasons and causes for the Hep C outbreak. Indeed badly affected public confidence has to be urgently restored. Now a huge cloud of doubts and uncertainty hangs over the entire SGH for patients and outpatients alike. Can we take for granted anymore the standards and professionalism of the SGH administration in particular and the MoH in general to act decisively and unequivocally in the interest of the public. The political implication angle is highly persuasive given the timeline of the course of the infection outbreak. Did the PAP govt withhold public dissemination of the outbreak because its already planned year long ‘campaign’ to win the GE would be put into disarray by the announcement of the outbreak? All that money thrown at Singaporeans and LKY’s ‘timely’ demise would have gone to waste in LHL’s political calculus. Doesn’t it says a lot about the Machiavellian bent of his govt, a chip of the old LKY block?

  3. Crystal says:

    I don’t know about you, but the deafening silence from the deceased families bothers me. Have they been gagged? In the interest of public health, shouldn’t we hear from them?

    • Phillip Ang says:

      Yes, it’s impossible for every member of the deceased families not speaking up. What they should do, after the government wayang has started, is commence legal action against SGH to get to the root of the matter. Procedural lapses must not be trivialised by being used as lessons for the government.

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