KOTA KINABALU: Foreign nationals owe Sabah hospitals RM21.67mil in medical bills from 2007 to 2012, the Royal Commission Of Inquiry (RCI) heard Tuesday.
Principal assistant director of health (communicable diseases control), Sabah Health Department, Dr Maria Suleiman said it involved 42,092 foreigners, mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia.
"When the Health Department referred payment to the addresses given, they were not there and could not be contacted by phone," she said.
The 75th witness said the cost of treatment was higher than the RM7,723,839.23 for Malaysians over the same period.
Conducting officer Datuk Azmi Arifin was told that between 2000 and 2011, some 1.3 million foreigners were given outpatient treatment in Sabah hospitals.
Dr Maria said some 295,053 foreign nationals were warded over the same period. A total of 122,882 births by foreigners were also recorded.
To receive treatment, foreigners only have to bring their passport, work permit and IMM13 (temporary identification receipt) but most did not have any personal documents.
She told observer lawyer John Sikayun of the Sabah Law Association that hospitals continued to treat foreigners as doctors could not turn away patients.
The inquiry was also told that the government spent RM614,355 on foreign juvenile detainees from 2007 to 2012.
It was the average cost of managing juvenile detainees at Keningau Henry Gurney School and Kota Kinabalu Henry Gurney School.
Deputy Superintendent of Kota Kinabalu Prisons Kalbin Mohd Said said the foreign detainees were from the Philippines and Indonesia.
The proceedings, held before a five-member panel headed by former chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Kiong, continues Wednesday. - Bernama
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