Press Statement By Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng In Komtar, George Town On 5.7.2014.
The Negative Japanese Encephalitis (JE) Test Results Of 181 Blood Samples From 20 Pig Farms In Kampung Selamat, Seberang Perai Should Allow The 3 JE Cases In Penang To Be Treated As A Disease And Health Issue Not As A Racial Issue By The BN-Controlled Media Or Be Politicised By BN.
The Penang state government understands the relief felt by public health workers over the results of the Veterinary Services Department yesterday that the 181 blood samples taken from 20 piggeries in the vicinity of Kampung Selamat in Seberang Prai, Penang tested negative for Japanese Encephalitis (JE). The negative JE test results of 181 blood samples from 20 pig farms in Kampung Selamat, Seberang Perai should allow the 3 JE Cases in Penang to be treated as a disease and health issue, not as a racial issue by the BN-controlled media or be politicised by BN.
The Penang state government wishes to strongly condemn the irresponsible BN mainstream mass media for highlighting the JE cases in Penang by racialising it before the test results were announced but not prominently publishing the negative test results for pig farms in Kampung Selamat announced by the Veterinary Department. BN racist politicians from UMNO also politicized it by making irresponsible and baseless statements to fan the issue with racial and religious sentiments.
JE is caused by mosquitoes active around livestock rearing from cows, ducks, chicken, birds, goats and pigs. Of the 3 JE cases in Penang, two were from areas(George Town and Butterworth) where there were no pig farms or livestock rearing whatseover. However, despite finding no traces of the mosquito-borne virus in the livestock, the Veterinary Department should advise all pig, chicken or buffalo farms to tighten their biosecurity measures and ensure cleanliness and proper sanitation in their compounds. This is to prevent their farms from becoming breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
The Health and Veterinary department should redouble efforts to investigate the source of the virus, including random tests not just on livestock rearing but also on wild fowls and other animals such as pet birds. The doctors should be allowed to carry out their work by treating the JE cases as a health issue, focusing on treating the disease instead of being distracted by racial or political considerations.
The Health Ministry should also not hide or cover up information but practice full disclosure and transparency by revealing the JE cases in Penang. The Penang state government only knew of the first JE case in George Town(where there is no livestock rearing of any animals) now when it was first reported 2 months ago, before the 2 subsequent cases in Butterworth and Kepala Batas. This information should be revealed to the public immediately in the public interest and accountability.
Whilst focus is on the 3 JE cases in Penang, the public and the Health Ministry should not forget the danger posed by dengue. This year Penang recorded 924 dengue cases, a 175% increase from the 336 cases for the same period last year. The 175% increase in dengue cases for Penang is lower than the national average of a 264% increase to 44,518 cases this year from 12,858 cases for the same period last year.
Similarly the national dengue death toll increased from 27 deaths to 85 deaths this year, whilst dengue deaths in Penang remain the same at 3 this year as compared to last year. Only a cleaner and greener Penang can reduce the escalation of dengue cases. The Penang Health EXCO Dr Afif Bahardin will continue his pro-active measures against both dengue and JE in Penang.
LIM GUAN ENG