It is quite perplexing to note that only after the fire at the Hospital Sultanah Aminah, which claimed six lives, that the government is embarking on a nationwide fire audit on old government buildings which are still in use.
This raises the question of whether there was no existence of an ongoing fire audit in old government buildings before this.
The Star reported yesterday that the Cabinet has issued a directive that all old government buildings are to undergo safety inspections.
“Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam said while these buildings were still structurally strong and usable, the safety features of the buildings still have to be inspected and approved by the Public Works Department (PWD) and Fire and Rescue Department.
“For this ministry, we have 48 buildings that are more than 50 years old which need to be checked as they are in use as hospitals, clinics and research institutes,” said Subramaniam after a Cabinet meeting on Friday.
“At the meeting, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was briefed on the old buildings that were still in use as schools, hospitals and offices.
“On the buildings in use by the Health Ministry, Subramaniam said that the Ministry would be working with the PWD and Fire and Rescue Department to see if the buildings can still be used.
“Subramaniam added that the Health Ministry and hospital authorities would follow the advice from experts, even if it meant stopping operations at the old buildings,” reported The Star.
It also raises other questions as to why the Health Minister is the one announcing this.
What happened to our Public Works Department (PWD) or JKR (as the department is more famously known), who is the one who built most of these old government buildings?
Where is the minister in charge of PWD, Minister of Works Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof? We have not been hearing much from him, in the event of the fire which engulfed parts of the HSA. Or is the Ministry of Works’ work done after merely building these government buildings?
The Prime Minister, whom Subramaniam has briefed, should take it upon himself to ensure that there is a continuous fire audit on all government buildings, especially those which deal with the public mass, such as hospitals and schools.
One must not wait for lives to be taken to do so, for Malaysian lives should not be made cheap every time they step into an old government building.
Source : Zakiah Koya@The Heat Malaysia Online