Ex-judge leads 7-man team to probe JB hospital fire tragedy


PETALING JAYA: A retired judge is heading a seven-man inquiry committee to determine the cause of a fire that resulted in the death of six patients at the Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor Bahru last year.

The former judge, Mohd Hishamuddin Yunus, is assisted by a deputy, Dr Abu Bakar Sulaiman, the former health ministry director-general.

Others on the panel are Dr Soh Chai Hock (former Fire and Rescue Services Department director-general), engineer Adanan Mohamed Hussain (former Public Works Department director-general), architect Ezumi Ismail (member of Board of Architects, Malaysia), Shahronizam Noordin (manager of Occupational Health Safety division, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) and Dr Mohd Zailan Sulieman (senior lecturer, School of Housing, Building and Planning, USM, Penang).

Hishamuddin, who was a Court of Appeal judge, said the committee was appointed by Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam and endorsed by the cabinet in December.

He said the committee will inquire into the incident and find out the cause and make recommendations to the government to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

Hishamuddin said it would also submit proposals to improve fire safety in hospitals nationwide.

“We have no deadline but would strive to complete the inquiry by the third quarter of the year,” he told FMT.

He said the committee had started a closed-door inquiry and had interviewed about 30 witnesses with the assistance of the health ministry’s legal adviser.

“We will be submitting our findings to the minister.”

On Oct 26, fire broke out at the southern intensive care unit (ICU) on the second floor of the hospital.

Four female and two male patients perished in the fire. A male patient was rescued by firefighters.

Doctors said the patients were dependent on ventilators under normal circumstances and could not be moved without their beds.

The fire did not spread to other areas of the hospital.

Another fire broke out at the hospital the following day. However, there was no report of any casualty.

In July, 28 patients at KPJ Specialist Hospital in Damai, Sabah, had to be evacuated when fire broke out at its main power control room, believed to have been caused by a short-circuit.