Did beatings weaken Thaqif’s immune system, asks PAGE


PETALING JAYA: A parents’ group has urged authorities to investigate whether or not the alleged beatings the late tahfiz student, Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohd Gaddafi supposedly received at the hands of his warden had weakened his immune system.

Yesterday, Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the autopsy performed on the body of the 11-year-old found that he had not died of injuries sustained through alleged beatings and that the cause of death was leptospirosis, a disease known to be brought by rat urine.

Speaking to FMT, Noor Azimah Rahim, who leads the Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE), said the authorities could not discount the possibility that the supposed beatings could have worsened Thaqif’s health before he succumbed to the leptospirosis.

“He might have died from leptospirosis but what had been happening in the past cannot be overlooked because there is evidence of him being beaten very badly.

“The fact that he had to have limbs amputated also causes suspicion. In most of the deaths I’ve heard of involving leptospirosis, the victim goes into a coma and dies.”

She also questioned whether the alleged beatings Thaqif received had dimmed his chances of surviving the disease.

“Not everyone who gets leptospirosis dies, especially if they are treated in time. I know people who have lived through it.

“I wonder if the beatings had affected his immune system and worsened the situation. This is all speculation but that’s why we need the authorities to investigate the matter and not overlook this possibility,” she said.

When asked whether beatings could weaken a person’s immune system, Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr Ravindran R Naidu told FMT that being beaten causes stress which could lead to the immune system becoming weaker.

“Your immune system does not become weaker through beatings directly but stress can weaken immunity. Also, if the person who received the beatings is bedridden, it is easier to get infections.”

Azimah said the fact that Thaqif suffered from leptospirosis also calls into question whether hygiene was being monitored at some tahfiz schools.

“Obviously, there could quite possibly be the presence of rats if Thaqif suffered from such a disease. If there is, then the school should be closed down until it meets hygiene standards.”

Eleven-year-old Thaqif was admitted to the hospital for leg injuries allegedly sustained after being assaulted with a rubber hose by a 29-year-old assistant warden, said to be an ex-convict.

The injuries had been suggested to have caused his legs to become infected, following which they had to be amputated.

Doctors wanted to amputate his right arm, which was also infected, but he died before this could be done.

The case had been classified as murder. The suspect was released on a court bond on May 3. In view of the latest results, the case will be reviewed by police.

Yesterday, Madrasah Tahfiz Al-Jauhar principal Mohammad Afdhaluddin Ismail told FMT he was unable to respond as to how Thaqif – who studied there – contracted the disease as he had been admitted to the hospital 21 days after he stopped attending the Quran recitation boarding school in Kota Tinggi, Johor.

However, he did not deny the possibility that Thaqif could have been infected in the school’s premises.