Hornbill Unleashed

October 21, 2011

‘Why didn’t they operate if pregnancy was high risk?’

Joseph Tawie

The Sarawak Medical Department’s defence of its Miri Hospital raises more questions over treatment of Penan and rural folk.

The Sarawak Medical Department’s self-preserving response to the death of a Penan infant and the treatment meted out to the child’s mother Seri Yung at the Miri Hospital has irked opposition leader and the family’s lawyer, See Chee How.

“I am not impressed with his (medical director Dr Zulkifli Jantan) reply, as it appears that he is protecting his own staff.

“His reply to me and his statement to the press raises more questions than answers.

“He makes a lot of excuses, and I am not concerned with those excuses. I am more concerned with the way the Penan woman was treated.

“You know she had a high risk pregnancy. Why didn’t you carry out a Caesarean operation?

“Why did you wait for 10 hours to do it, when the baby was already in bad shape?”

See, who is state PKR vice chairman,  was approached by Seri Yung and her husband Roy Dumai, a Penan couple from Long Napir in Ulu Limbang to help find out how their newborn infant had died when they had adhered to the advise of the doctor.

They are demanding that the state medical authorities conduct an inquest into the death of their newborn infant on Oct 15, 2011 in the Miri Hospital.

Inquest essential

See said it was not enough that the medical department had conducted its own inhouse investigations.

“It is just not satisfactory…they must conduct an inquest as asked for by the baby’s parents.

“They knew it was a high risk pregnancy on the onset…the baby could have been saved if a Caesarean operation was carried out immediately upon arrival in Mir Hospital.

“I believe the long journey by road passing Brunei could also have contributed to the baby’s deteriorating condition.

“There must be a proper investigation. An independent inquest into the infant’s death and the hospital’s so-called standard care and management is essential.

“We know this is not an isolated case, and there are more such cases,” he said

‘Reasonable care provide’

Meanwhile, Dr Zuklifli in his statement to the press had said that  Seri Yung and her baby was provided with the ‘standard care and management’ by the hospital staff in Limbang and Miri.

He explained that Seri Yunus came to Limbang hospital at the early stage of her labour and was diagnosed as a high risk patient and sent by ambulance to Miri hospital on Oct 15.

He said labour commenced spontaneously in Miri hospital and normal delivery trial was planned.

He said the condition of mother and infant was monitored accordingly and there were no previous indication that a caesarean operation was necessary.

“However, progress was slow and the infant began showing signs of distress, and a Caesarean operation was carried out but it was 30 minutes longer than normal due to extensive adhesions affecting the uterus and abdominal wall as a result of previous caesarean operation.

“The department would like to state that all reasonable care and management have been duly provided to both Seri Yung and her infant while in Limbang and Miri hospitals,” Zulkifli said.


On the issue of the hospital’s demand that the mourning couple were forced to pay the RM180 hospital bill against a government directive, Zulkifli said it was a result of ‘miscommunication’.

He said the hospital staff had misunderstood Seri Yunus who had declared herself as a Rela member as opposed to being a Penan.

“If she had told us that she is a Penan who could not afford to pay the bill, the fee exemption could have been activated on the spot,” Dr Zulkifli said.

The couple had claimed that they were verbally abused and and were also forced to pay the hospital bill of RM180 even though they came from a poor family.

See said it should be of no relevance if Seri Yung was a Rela member.

The fact that she was poor and unable to pay the RM180 should be sufficient reason to waive the bill.

“I am sure the hospital authorities are aware of that (she is Penan and poor).

“After all, the clinic card shows that she is a Penan and comes from Long Napir, Ulu Limbang,” said See.

See suggested that the criteria for payment of hospital bills be posted in all clinics and hospitals so that people, especially the rural folk, know whether they are entitled for exemption or not.


  1. All “free” hospitals are totally risky!! I know this from experience.
    I had a severe diarrhea once and the doctor at a “FREE” hospital told me to go relax because it’s nothing.
    I’ve lost many pounds and I went to a “REAL” doctor who gave me the right diagnosis and treatment.

    Comment by The confidence guru — November 15, 2011 @ 6:26 PM | Reply

  2. It shows that the hospital staff worked like a robot and a kind like “that’s not my job”. They’re not willing to learn at all, forget about to help the poor people, as simple as that. They worked for the salary only known for their boring faces and ugly behaviour as we can see.

    Comment by Iman Lara — October 21, 2011 @ 4:58 PM | Reply

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