IPOH • The Malaysian Ministry of Health has accepted the apology offered by news portal theindependent.sg over its inaccurate report on the recent death of a Singaporean who had been taken to Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor Baru.
Health Minister S. Subramaniam said the ministry accepted the apology with an open heart, reported national news agency Bernama.
"Today, the portal offered its apology for what they wrote and, since they have apologised, then we are okay," Datuk Seri Dr Subramaniam told reporters yesterday. "Besides, the report has also been removed from the portal."
The news portal, through a notice on its website, said it apologised unreservedly to the parties concerned for the anguish and distress that the incident had caused.
The notice replaced the original report, which was titled "25-year-old Singaporean dies after Malaysian hospital demanded cash payment before treatment", which was published last Thursday.
The Singaporean in question was Mr Justinian Tan, 24, who was in Johor Baru with Mr Joshua De Rozario and four other friends for supper last Monday when he was hit by a car.
Mr Tan sustained severe injuries, and was taken to Sultan Aminah Hospital in Johor Baru. He was there for about five hours before he was transferred to Singapore General Hospital. He died last Wednesday after being taken off life support.
In the retracted article, Mr De Rozario complained that the ambulance took a long time to arrive at the scene of the accident and that, at Sultan Aminah Hospital, they were asked to pay RM1,350 (S$430) each before its staff would start giving them treatment.
Malaysia's director-general of health, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, responded last Friday to refute the allegations, providing details of the ambulance logs and the emergency treatment that was administered to Mr Tan.
Mr De Rozario, 25, later conceded there could have been some confusion after the accident and at the hospital because of difficulties in communicating in Bahasa Malaysia.
"When the accident happened, a lot of things were going on at once, so the wait for help to come felt really long. I thought it took 30 minutes, but their logs said differently," Mr De Rozario told The Straits Times.
Dr Subramaniam had said earlier, before the report was retracted, that the ministry was considering taking legal action against the news portal, and that it would file a complaint with Singapore over the report, which "demoralises and demotivates public healthcare staff who work hard and are dedicated in saving lives".