Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why Kick a Man When He’s Down?

Gaman had taken his ailing daughter to the village clinic but there was nothing the staff could do. The little girl was not getting better. So Gaman (not his real name) and his wife took her to the big hospital in the city to see a real doctor.

At the hospital, there was the usual one ringgit that a patient has to pay at the registration counter. Then surprise! Gaman had to pay another RM15 for a minor medical procedure to be done on his daughter. No money, no treatment.

Gaman had thought that medical treatments at all government hospitals were free. What was he to do? If he paid the RM15 he wouldn’t have enough money for the fare back home. He tried to explain his predicament to this hospital staffer but she insisted he paid the money. Then she got impatient and scolded him in a loud voice.

The other out-patients watched him curiously. He had come in the one tee-shirt which had no patches. If its colour was neither white nor gray, it was because he had had it for a long time. He looked down and kept his eyes on his feet when the nurse scolded him.  It was okay to go barefoot in the kampong but here in the city, his bare feet attracted a lot of attention. Glancing at his wife in her one good sarong and tee-shirt and their little girl so thin and sickly, he felt sorry he had brought them to this big hospital. He had come for nothing except to be chastised by an employee of the Kementerian Kesihatan.

My good friend saw Gaman’s pain and humiliation. She felt sorry for him and offered to pay for the procedure. The stunned staff member asked if she were a relative and when she said ‘no’, the staffer refused her money and said they could settle the problem without any money changing hands.

My question is: Why go through all the hassle of demanding for payment in the first place? Because Gaman was from the ulu? Because he didn’t dress ‘right’? Because it was fun to humiliate the poor man?

My dear reader, ‘poor’ is too mild a word to describe Gaman. He doesn't even own a pair of flip-flops. Why kick him when he’s already down? The first people we meet at the hospital—where we get our numbers and register ourselves—should be those who have empathy or have been trained to be sympathetic towards the sick, the poor, people with disabilities, etc. who, after all, are there to get medical attention, not to be verbally abused and humiliated.

And while I’m at the subject of poverty, I’d like to ask: Who are in charge of lowering the poverty rate in Sabah? I believe there is an on-going program to eradicate poverty and that a rural household whose income is below RM1000 qualifies to receive aid. It doesn’t take much intelligence to deduce that Gaman’s income isn’t anywhere near RM1000 per month. Why hasn’t he received aid? Whose job is it to go and identify the rural poor?

According to the World Bank (DE 5 Dec 2010), Sabah is the poorest state in the country. Malaysia’s Poverty Report issued by the PM’s Department in 2007 stated that Sabah had the most hardcore poor families with 32,400 households. The next ‘poorer’ is Terengganu with a mere 8,300 households! Sarawak whose population is comparable to Sabah has only 5,000 poor families.

What happened to e-Kasih?

I read with concern (DE 5 Dec 2010) Datuk Yong Teck Lee’s allegation that e-Kasih has turned into p-Kasih (pilih kasih) where cash handouts are given to ‘selected people’.

It’s very disheartening to know that there may be many poor people who qualify for aid but are not getting it due to their own ignorance (about e-Kasih) or because no one is reaching out to them. I’m not suggesting that we should become Mother Theresa but shame on us if we’re aware of our brothers’ plight but choose to look the other way. Shame on us if we open our mouths only to humiliate a fellow human being.

(I know it’s only words but words are all I have…)

All pictures are taken from Google Images


  1. sad but its true...and happening.

    If I were there and saw Gaman kena like that by that staff, sure she or he kena kaw2 by me. See if they can live in a world where people can spread things like wildfire in FB, Blogs and newspaper hotline.

  2. I feel sorry for the Gaman and his family. If I was there witnessing that incident, I would march right away to the pengarah hospital's room and make sure he/she does something about it. Mana boleh suka-suka humiliate orang ooo...

  3. Maybe depends on your luck. Sometimes you meet nice staff at the hospital... other times rude and insensitive people. I feel sorry for the village folks esp those who obviously have no cash and yet are bullied into coughing out the money.
    It's good to know that there are people like you, Angel and Gunaqz. Many people would turn the other way. They don't want to 'get involved'.

  4. About the rude nurse and our so-called gov, it's what they called karenah birokrasi. How the heck the gov can improve the productivity of our poor state if this "karenah birokrasi" is stil around..?? Memang pilih kasih ja dorang ni..Sigh..human natures...

    Feel sorry for Gaman and other village folks who's involved.

    I'm with you Tchr. And yes, it’s only words but words are all we have...

  5. Hi Glen! Thanks for visiting and leaving your comment.
    The village folks should be helped and shown how to help themselves so they can earn an income. It's a pity that there are people in Sabah who can't even afford plastic slippers.

  6. Once a relative overheard a lady doctor in government hospital told an old woman(kampung folk) TO GO AND DIE because she apparently kept asking stupid questions.

    I bet Fuad and Mojuntin are turning in their graves right now for how plebeian Sabahans are treated.

  7. It's a shame that we've doctors who are so abusive towards the very people they're supposed to take care. Maybe it's partly because our hospitals are over-crowded and under-staffed. Then we'll have to ask why the problems can't be rectified.