Cancer patients hit ‘roadblocks’

Police permit requirement to travel interstate exposing ill people to virus

KUALA LUMPUR: Cancer patients who have to travel to other states for treatment are decrying the hassle of getting police permits during the movement control order (MCO) period.

Tam Kam Wah, who has stage four lung cancer, said he needed to travel to Petaling Jaya for immunotherapy, which is not available in Kuantan.

The former car painter said he was recently stopped at a roadblock near the Kuantan police station at 5.30am and was told he needed a permit.

By the time he reached the hospital with the permit, it was already noon, said Tam, 46.

He said it was not easy for patients, who are already ill, to wait in line for the permit.

“Why do we need a police permit? Isn’t a hospital letter enough?” he asked.

Under the MCO, travelling to buy daily necessities or medicine is restricted to 10km from a person’s home.

Subsequently, Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said police could use their discretion.

Zaki Alias, 43, said his wife, who has stage four lung cancer, had a doctor’s letter, appointment card and a police letter dated April 10 to travel from Kuantan to Kuala Terengganu and to Petaling Jaya.

Zaki said he had to leave their children aged six and nine with his mother-in-law in Kuala Terengganu first as the hospital did not allow children to come along.

The Kuantan district police told him to get a police permit from Kuala Terengganu to make his journey back but when he got there and called the police station, he was told this was unnecessary.

“But when I left Kuantan for PJ the following day, the police at the Karak toll plaza roadblock asked all sorts of questions and told us to get another letter from the Bentong police station but I told him I had to be at the hospital at 8.30am and the oncologist’s clinic is opened for half-day only, ” he said, adding that it took a while before he was let off.

“The issue has to be clarified. Do we need every district police to issue a permit? The one in Kuantan said a letter is needed for every journey but not others, ” he said.

A man from Muar who declined to be named said he drove his wife for her radiotherapy at a hospital in Selangor every day and was once told to go home by the police.

Recently, the police gave him a permit for one week.

“Not all roadblocks are problematic. What the police are doing is good but some are not understanding, ” he said.

Consultant oncologist Datuk Dr Ibrahim Wahid said cancer patients had weakened immune system and lining up at the police station exposed them to others and put them at a higher risk of getting Covid-19.

“The police should cut the bureaucracy and send out a clear message to all their officers to exempt patients travelling to another state for treatment from having to apply for a police permit.

“A doctor’s letter and an appointment card are good enough.

“If they have doubts, they can call the hospital to verify, ” he said.

Consultant oncologist Dr Mastura Md Yusof said one of her patients from Kuantan could not get through a roadblock and was told to go home but she called the police station and was later let through.

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