Health Ministry urged to look into case of Navy cadet's death

Zahratulhayat Mat Arif

IPOH: The family of Royal Malaysian Navy officer cadet J. Soosaimanicckam who died during a training session is urging the Health Ministry to look into alleged unprofessional conduct and lack of transparency on the part of Seri Manjung Hospital and the state Health Department.

The family’s lawyers, Zaid Malek and Mahajoth Singh, in a joint statement today said that despite repeated requests, Seri Manjung Hospital which conducted the autopsy had refused to release the final and conclusive post-mortem report.

“Yesterday (Sept 6), we accompanied Calvin, the brother of the late Soosaimanicckam, to the hospital for a meeting regarding the hospital’s refusal to release the final post-mortem report to the deceased’s family.

“However, when we arrived, the hospital refused to allow us to accompany Calvin during the meeting. We were informed that this was an order made by the Perak Health Department deputy director, Dr Noorisah Mahat Noor.

“Though she was not in attendance, we were able to contact her and she affirmed that we were not allowed to attend.

“The hospital’s refusal to allow us to assist Calvin with his complaint is unacceptable, and the reason behind the refusal is nonsensical. It reeks of hypocrisy as the hospital had seven people representing it during the meeting, consisting of the Hospital Seri Manjung deputy director, the medical officer that conducted the post-mortem, several doctors from Seri Manjung Hospital as well as a specialist doctor from Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital in Ipoh,” the statement said.

The lawyers said they had no choice but withdraw from the meeting. They said the hospital’s representatives subsequently refused their request for a complete list of the names and positions of the people who had attended the meeting.

“This highly inappropriate behaviour, as well as the overall lack of transparency from the hospital, is disappointing. If they had nothing to hide, why refuse to release the final post-mortem report?” the statement said.

“It has put the bereaved family through further unnecessary hardship and the justice that they deserve is again delayed. We urge the Ministry of Health to look into this improper conduct by the hospital and the Perak Health Department.

“We also demand that the final and conclusive post-mortem report be released to the family of the deceased immediately.”

It was reported that Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu has given assurances that there would be no cover-up in the investigation and stern action would be taken against those involved if there was evidence of misconduct that resulted in Soosaimanicckam’s death. Mohamad also instructed the Navy to release a detailed report on its probe into the case.

It was reported that Soosaimanicckam, 27, died while undergoing training on board KD Sultan Idris in Lumut. The family’s lawyer, N. Surendran, was quoted as saying that the family was concerned about the case as the preliminary report had stated that the deceased had died of fluid in the lungs.

He said this was strange as the medical report, prior to the training, revealed that he was fit. A news portal reported on May 20 quoting Manjung District Police chief ACP Muhammad Hanif Othman as saying that the forensic report had ruled out foul play in the officer cadet’s death and that he had died of fluid in the lungs. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd