MP a blast from the past, warns QEH consultant
Joe Fernandez | Dec 5, 08 12:58pm
Ikram (Sabah) Sdn Bhd, the consulting engineers for Kota Kinabalu’s  largely abandoned Queen Elizabeth Hospital, last night drew curious parallels between Kota Kinabalu MP Hiew King Cheu, the Health Ministry and Public Works Department (PWD) on their approach to the ailing general hospital over the past decade.

“For the past 10 years or so, the relevant authorities including PWD and the ministry have been adopting the same attitude as Hiew - carry out repairs as and when and where necessary until the condition of the tower block reached a critical stage,” disclosed Ikram executive director Vincent Tan (photo).

vincent tan ikram 051208 01“How can I go against my conscience and professional ethics to say that we should not demolish the building, knowing full well that it is in critical condition? Who should be held responsible if the building collapses one day?

“I don’t think I want to be held responsible and neither do I believe the minister concerned will want to be held responsible.”

Tan was revisiting familiar ground to point out that the Kota Kinabalu MP’s posers on the QEH without referring to the Ikram Report do not hold water and were, in fact, treading on dangerous territory.

He also took potshots at Hiew for “playing politics” over the fate of the QEH instead of being concerned about the safety of the public and the hospital staff.

Tan reiterated his exception to Hiew’s suggestion that three professional bodies should be allowed to take a closer look at Ikram’s various estimates including that of demolition of the tower block and reconstruction on the same site at a cost of RM24.58 million - RM820,000 more than the repair option.

Hiew, a mechanical engineer, has poured cold water on the RM23.76 million repair works (not recommended) for the QEH.

'No vested interest'

Tan added that it was not his job to criticise the government but to carry out the job entrusted to him to determine whether the hospital was safe or otherwise, and if so how best to deal with the situation.

“I have no special or vested interest in this. Whether the government is going to build a new hospital in Putatan or Kinarut, or purchase one, is none of my business,” fumed Tan.

“But he (Hiew) should not drag me into the water in his bid to seek political mileage. The public forum on Monday was chiefly to better explain the real situation at the hospital building, certainly not for him to politicise the issue.”

queen elizabeth hospital kota kinabalu 251008Tracing the background to the forum, Tan recalled that ever since the ministry declared the tower block unsafe and moved to have it demolished, Hiew had persistently questioned the decision, claiming that the damage was not as severe as made out to be, as well as the cost estimates for the various options.

“We decided to hold the public forum so that he could get a clearer picture of what was happening at QEH,” stressed Tan.

“I even made special arrangements for him to sit in the VIP area with several copies of the (three-volume) Ikram Report placed on the coffee table next to him. But sadly, he didn’t bother to read (the report), not even a single page.

“Many of those who attended raised many questions on the issue. Hiew only came forward to make a political speech, accusing the government of not doing its job, as well as questioning the proposed purchase of the new Sabah Medical Centre.

"Except for disputing the estimated cost for the structural repairs, Hiew didn’t raise a single technical question although the PWD engineers and I were present.”

queen elizabeth hospital kota kinabaluThe forum was followed by a guided tour of the building and site inspection.

According to Tan, Hiew excused himself and left the venue “since he had to rush off to the airport to attend the parliamentary sitting in Kuala Lumpur”.

Also included in the site inspection were representatives who, Hiew had earlier claimed, “had no chance to inspect the structural integrity of the affected building”.

The heads of the Institution of Engineers Malaysia Sabah branch, Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia Sabah branch and the Malaysian Institute of Architects Sabah chapter had clarified yesterday that their presence at the forum should not be taken as indicating a stand either in favour of or against any decision taken by the authorities concerned on the future of QEH.

The 10-storey QEH tower block was declared unsafe on Oct 23 by Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai based on detailed reports by Ikram and PWD. The last patient was moved out of the tower block on Nov 14.