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Friday, July 16, 2004


The Anwar Spinal Dilemma
It's his Human Rights

::The recent deterioration of DSAI's spinal problems has once again brought to the forefront the great divide in this country. On the one hand there are those who think that DSAI should just go ahead and have his operation locally and on the other hand there are those who feel that he should be allowed to go oveseas for the treatment of his choice.

The facts that are known are :: a.DSAI first had his spine injured after a fall from a horse; b.soon after his arrest he was badly assaulted, c.there is sufficient evidence that he has spinal stenosis, d.there has been recent deterioration of his condition and e.his condition demands urgent operative treatment.

The other thing that is clear, and has been affirmed by Suhakam in 2001, is that it is within a patient's human rights to make an informed choice regarding the treatment of his illness. Suhakam has also affirmed that there are no prohibitions under Malaysian laws to prevent a prisoner seeking treatment for his illness overseas. It is also to be noted that Suhakam is a body set up by the Malaysian Government following passage of a Bill in Parliament, the purpose of this body being that of advising the Government on Human Rights of its citizens among other functions. Following from this Suhakam advisory, it appears that it is within DSAI to go for the treatment of his choice even if it is to take place overseas. Denying him this affect his human rights, refusing him his choice of treatment affects his human rights and not giving concrete reasons affects his human rights.

Those who say that DSAI should not be given special treatment (it would open a Pandora's box, so said one); who is going to pay for his treatment overseas; DSAI will "escape through the backdoor" when he goes overseas (Dr Ng you can be so sickening); are obviously those who are not being updated regarding DSAI's spinal dilemma and are missing the point. It is on record that DSAI and his family have said that the payment would be borne by the family, that he would not run away and the Government can imposed whatever conditions it deems fit as long as he is allowed the treatment of his choice ie endoscopic microsurgery under local anaesthesia. This is affirmed by Suhakam. What obviously DSAI does not want is to be dictated to by a third party with regard to the treatment of his condition, this is depriving him of his human rights.

Questions like whether DSAI thinks our local surgeons incompetent or that they will function as "hired assassins" do not arise. These are probably just figments of those with very highly imaginative minds, those highly susceptible to thinking of conspiracy theories. The whole thing is really a questions of a patient's human rights. Unless the Government has very very good reasons to deprive a patient's of his human rights when in this hour of need, where the MINIster of Health (who is himself a medical doctor and a fellow human being) is fully aware like DSAI about the possible complications of further delay of treatment, it is not a question of DSAI refusing treatment but rather, the MINIster and his cabinet collegues and the PM refusing DSAI the treatment of his choice.





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