Baru pledges to complete work on new Lawas district hospital

Works Minister Baru Bian says PH must be given time to finish projects delayed under the BN administration.

PETALING JAYA: Baru Bian today said Putrajaya will complete work on the long-delayed new Lawas district hospital in Sarawak, months after the works minister pledged to follow through on Pakatan Harapan’s pledge to revamp healthcare in East Malaysia.

The Selangau MP and Be’kalalan state assemblyman said the federal government was aware of the critical need for work on the hospital project to be resumed and said PH has no intention of abandoning it.

In a statement today, Baru, who is also Sarawak PKR chief, said this was a “sick” project under the previous government. The project, that started in 2011, was expected to be completed in 2016 but has been delayed.

Baru said his ministry sent out invitations for re-tendering of this project on Feb 15 and tender documents will be on sale on March 4.

As for the Petra Jaya Hospital, Baru said the tender documents will be available for purchase on Feb 25.

Invitations to tender for the Miri Hospital are expected to be given out in April, he added.

“We are committed to meeting the needs of the people. We will ensure the Lawas, Petra Jaya and Miri hospitals are completed without further delay.”

Baru was responding to Lawas MP Henry Sum Agong’s call for the federal government to resume work on the new Lawas district hospital.

Last September, Baru had agreed to a call for the government’s ouster if healthcare is not revamped in East Malaysia.

This was in response to a FMT article that referred to the story of Kam Agong, a woman from Long Semadoh in rural Sarawak.

She bled to death in 2002 following a Caesarean section at the existing Lawas district hospital that does not have any specialists. It was the health facility closest to Long Semadong and five hours away by road.

Kam’s daughter, Agnes Padan, sued the hospital for negligence and won.

Pregnant women from Long Semadoh are now taken to Miri Hospital, about 10 hours away in a four-wheel-drive vehicle. To make the trip, they have to cross Brunei twice.

They also need to fork out large amounts for a single round-trip to the hospital, where only 24 beds are available.

Baru, who is related to Kam and Agnes, had taken note of Agnes’s statement that voters should boot out their elected representatives if the health needs of residents are not taken care of.

Baru, Kam and Agnes all come from the Lun Bawang settlement in Long Semadoh. This is under the state seat of Ba’kelalan, which Baru represents.

“I agree that the government should be voted out if it doesn’t address these issues,” Baru had said, but added that PH should be given time to fulfil its promises to East Malaysians.

“PH has pledged to remedy the situation. Unfortunately, we took over a government that was almost bankrupt.

“It’s sad that the Barisan Nasional government did not seriously treat Sarawak’s needs and concerns as priorities.”