KLUANG: The family of the elderly couple who died after unknowingly consuming pufferfish, or ikan buntal, has pleaded to the public to stop selling and buying the fish.
The couple’s daughter, Ng Ai Lee, 51, said losing her mother Lim Siew Guan, 83, and father Ng Chuan Sing @ Eng Kuai Sin, 84, this way was very painful for her family.
The family laid Chuan Sing to rest at the Chamek Chinese cemetery here yesterday. Her mother was also buried there on March 29.
“I hope this tragedy stops with our family. Nobody should experience this kind of loss.
“Fishmongers should also find it in their hearts to put aside their personal interest and stop selling puffer fish – my parents’ deaths were two lives too many lost,” Ai Lee said.
Her parents bought the pufferfish, commonly known as drumstick fish among the Chinese community (due to its resemblance to a chicken drumstick), unknowingly from a trusted fishmonger on March 25.
Lim then cleaned and fried the fish for lunch on the same day.
She began experiencing breathing difficulties and shivered after that, while her husband began showing similar symptoms about an hour later.
Lim passed away later that evening while her husband subsequently died on April 8, two days after he was transferred from the hospital’s intensive care unit to the normal ward.
Ai Lee also called on the government to take firm action against the irresponsible parties involved in her parents’ death, as well as fishmongers found selling the poisonous fish.
She said that Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, in a statement on March 31, had said Section 13 of the Food Act 1983 prohibits the sale of any food that has in or upon it any substance which is poisonous, harmful or otherwise injurious to health.
“As such, those responsible for my parents’ death should be held accountable under the law and I hope the authorities will speed up investigations.
“I will also submit a letter to Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa in the coming days to highlight the matter as my family wants the government to take firm action to prevent the loss of more lives in the future.
“The public can also play a role in reporting the sale of pufferfish to the authorities to stop the sale of the poisonous items.
“I hope my family’s experience is enough to raise public awareness and educate consumers about the dangers of consuming pufferfish,” she added.
When contacted, Johor health and unity committee chairman Ling Tian Soon said he had brought up the couple’s death during a meeting with the Health Ministry and state excos on Tuesday.
“I highlighted the state government’s major concern about the matter and urged the ministry to speed up the investigation process.
“The state also hoped the ministry could work with the Fisheries Department to seek law reforms to better control the sale of pufferfish and prevent such incidents from occurring again in the future,” said Ling.