Hornbill Unleashed

April 2, 2012

Sarawakian Spending RM40 for paracetamol

Peter Sibon

Closure of government clinic at Nanga Bena four years ago forced people there to travel to Kapit for basic medical treatment

FRUSTRATED: Ngebong giving the four-finger-up to show that RM40 is too much for a panadol.

Panadol (paracetamol) are dispensed free at government clinics and hospitals in the state, but for some 2,000 people from 16 longhouses at Nanga Bena, about 40km from here, there is an exorbitant hidden cost of RM40 for this common painkiller and fever medication.

Forty ringgit is the return fare to travel from their longhouses to the government hospital here.

The situation was not always this bad for these rural folk because there used to be a government clinic at Nanga Bena, within walking distance of most of the longhouses.

However, on Sept 9, 2008, the clinic was closed because the erosion had threatened the structure of its building.

The people were not perturbed by the closure initially because they thought it would just be a temporary inconvenience and something would be done to reopen the clinic.

But after almost four years their patience has turned to frustration, and last Wednesday a group of elders from the community approached the sunday post to appeal to the government to re-open the clinic as soon as possible.

They said many of them could not afford the fare to the hospital here for medical treatment, especially during emergency cases.

In the last four years, they claimed that some lives could have been saved if the clinic was not closed.

One particular incident which they relate was a case of a one-year old girl who died on the way to Kapit hospital due to high fever.

They said if the clinic was still in operation, the girl’s life could have been saved.

GRASSROOTS FEEDBACK: Ugak (red shirt with cap on the left) with the longhouse folk at the abandoned Ng Bena clinic which has been closed down for four years.

JKKK chairman of Rh Mikai, Ngebong Semada said the reason for the closure of the clinic, which was built in 1978, was justified but there seem to be no effort to reopen it.

What puzzled the people there is that the clinic is still standing without sign of further erosion to other parts of the compound.

“All they need to do is to build a proper culvert to channel the water from a small stream at the back of the clinic straight to the river downhill instead of letting the water to flow across the back of the clinic, which had caused erosion in the first place.

“Now when I think back, their judgment to close down the clinic was a bad decision,” Ngebong said.

He said now if anybody were to see a doctor, the person would have to look for transport and have to fork out at least RM40 to get to Kapit hospital.

“Most of us are farmers, so how could we afford such a hefty sum just to get to the Kapit hospital just for simple medication such as panadol? This isn’t fair to us,” he lamented.

Rumah Juntan’s deputy tuai rumah Gasing Salang said, it was really unfair to let the clinic to remain closed while the condition was still good.

“The whole land where the clinic was built was leveled from solid ground. So there shouldn’t be any reason for the soil to further erode. But if the authorities think that it is really unsafe, then do something about it and not just let it rot and we have to suffer the consequences,” he pointed out.

Gasing, who has high blood appealed to the health department to quickly restore the operation of the clinic as it was really too costly for him to go down to Kapit each time he needed his medication.

He further vented his frustration by saying that though the late Tun Temenggong Jugah, who hailed from here, one of the signatories of the formation of Malaysia in 1963, Kapit as a whole has not get a fair deal of development from the government.

“Just look at our road. It’s still in deplorable condition as most of them are  still gravel. This aggravates the situation we are in. There have been cases when our pregnant women gave birth while on the way to Kapit hospital,” he revealed.

Tr Undi Langkau, who works in the clinic as a boatman before he moved to Kapit hospital said all the staff had since been transferred to Kapit hospital.

Before its closure the clinic was opened 24-hours a day and manned by eight staff comprising a medical assistant, two nurses, attendants and other support staff.

Tr Gasing Lebah from Sg Sut also appealed to the government to reopen the clinic urgently so that the people could get basic medical care without having to pay the RM40 ringgit fare.

“We are simple folks, we do not want to argue with the government but our patience has run out and we are now in desperation for better medical care and health service. So please help us,” he appealed.

Mala Jelani who was rather emotional and angry said the government should not let them down any longer and should reopen the clinic.

“We are not asking too much. All we are asking for is for the clinic to be reopened so that we don’t have to suffer like this,” she said.

Meanwhile, Wilson Ugak, the private secretary to Senior Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing who visited the abandoned clinic on Thursday said he would bring up the matter to the relevant authorities and urged the people to remain patient.

“I promised to highlight your plight to the relevant authorities. In the worst case scenario, what the government could do is to send a medical team here and man the clinic on an office-hours basis from Kapit,” he suggested.

Ugak, who is keen to contest for Hulu Rajang under the BN also take the opportunity to urge the people to continue to support the current government in the coming general election.

Masing, when contacted yesterday, urged the Health Department to  provide at least health care during office hours at Nanga Bena so that the people will not be deprived anymore. “It’s ridiculous for the them to pay so much for simple medication like panadol,” he said.


  1. RM40 for panadol???

    Never mind lah. This is called Politics of Development.

    You could develop a heart attack after you pop two of those tablets.

    Maybe the blonde Lebanon Bomoh could do better. Couldn’t she?

    Comment by Kepala pusing — April 4, 2012 @ 12:35 AM | Reply

  2. No need to comment so much …. just vote for Pakatan …. after so many years in power BN has forgotten the rakyat …. give Pakatan a chance ……….. VOTE them in to form the next government ….. !!

    Comment by Henry Wong — April 2, 2012 @ 8:33 PM | Reply

  3. What were they doing before this? Been bussy messing around as towkay? Might aswell drag the KD up river and sink it in Murum Damned Dam catchment area as playground for Ikan Jabu. More fish for the rakyat as 1 malaysia fish!

    Comment by Brian — April 2, 2012 @ 5:26 PM | Reply

  4. this is what u call Rakyat didahulukan?

    Comment by faris — April 2, 2012 @ 4:34 PM | Reply

  5. Having a good and jovial time elsewhere?

    Who is to blame now? The Medical Officer? The elected representative? No more excuses for being very busy. Mind you the Klinik Desa was abandoned since 2008. Yet no temporary provisions ever being planned for this villagers. Though Government staff who travel are entitled to claims for travelling and lodging allowances where are they heading? What have the government been doing then. Mercilessly letting the poor villagers to come out and source for medical assistance themselves. Forking out a RM40.00 is real painful for the remote villagers though it may be a small fraction compare to the civil servant travelling claims. Come on, do have mercy on them all.

    Best solution, have the whole BN machinery needed written off come this GE.

    Comment by miaOwkia — April 2, 2012 @ 2:32 PM | Reply

  6. As far as UMNO controlled BN is concerned, Malaysia is “world class” in almost everything , from government institutions and policies to judiciary,security,education, infrastructures, utilities and anti corruption. As recently as few months ago, the whole nation woke up to the reality that more than 3.8 million households (multiply by an average of two per household) or 7.6 million Malaysians have been living from hands to mouths and who needed and fittingly given financial aid of RM500 per household for the first time in over 50 years. Such handout which is unlikely to be repeated next year and continuously and which the government denied as election bribes had cause the UMNO controlled government a big hole.

    The rural population in Sarawak and Sabah are living in poverty since the formation of Malaysia and under the rule of UMNO controlled BN. Having to depend on riverine transport or jungle paths and rain for drinking water are not uncommon in most parts of Sarawak and Sabah. What the government had done to appease these rural folks deprived of socio economic development were to build modern longhouses by piece meal basis to at least contain the deep frustrations of been cut off from the outside world. Many had their NCR lands taken and displaced.

    UMNO controlled BN has got nothing to offer the people and Najib has achieved nothing but a few catchy slogans todate which also cost the tax paying rakyat hundreds of millions..

    Comment by Mata Kuching — April 2, 2012 @ 1:58 PM | Reply

  7. Masinglah Tawkey! Arise you people of Nanga Bena, anything with BN is disastrous. Wilson Ugak will report to the Tawkey and they will send a VHT once a while and after GE, that’s the end. BN has been the government since independent. Why Murun Dam worth billions, a small KD they cannot repair.

    Comment by anakmuridcikgu — April 2, 2012 @ 12:43 PM | Reply

  8. After 4 years barulah Masing mahu ambil peduli apa punya YB.

    Comment by Colin Ubeh (@swknative) — April 2, 2012 @ 12:32 PM | Reply

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