Rakyat mostly at the mercy of public officials

I REFER to the letter “Dear Sir/Madam, please reply to my mail!” (The Star, Jan 4; online at https://bit.ly/3qS6Vh4).

I would say that the public are generally at the mercy of feckless officials in most government ministries and departments.

I, too, have written numerous letters to government officials highlighting shortcomings and issues that needed immediate attention, but I have never received any acknowledgement from them.

In May last year, for example, I sent video clips and photos of a slip road leading to a housing scheme, Taman Putera Indah and Taman Puteri Indah in Bidor, that needed some attention. Until now, no action has been taken by the local authorities.

I would like to relate an incident that happened in 1984 in Sungai Rengit, a small fishing village in Pengerang, Johor. Back then, I was a vector control inspector attached to the Vector Unit of the Health Department.

Three villagers were injured in a mishap and needed immediate medical attention. They needed to be sent to Kota Tinggi Hospital, about 80km from Sungai Rengit, which only had a health clinic manned by a medical assistant at that time.

There were two ambulances stationed at the Health Department in Sungai Rengit. On that particular day, one of the ambulances was not in roadworthy condition, so the medical team used the other vehicle to send two of the injured people to Kota Tinggi Hospital. They were accompanied by a staff nurse and assistant nurse.

A private firm that had an ambulance in Sungai Rengit offered to lend the vehicle to send the other patient to Kota Tinggi, but their driver was not available.

The medical assistant at the health clinic asked the Health Department’s driver to drive the private ambulance, but the latter refused, citing government regulations.

As the villagers had started to hurl abusive and vulgar words against the Health Department, I volunteered to drive the private ambulance and take the patient to the Kota Tinggi Hospital. I also brought the medical team back safely to Sungai Rengit.

What I am saying is the Health Department’s driver showed no humanity or decency, and unfortunately this attitude is still prevalent among most government officials these days.


Bidor, Perak

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