|KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 – While millions of people are being struck
down by influenza throughout Europe and the United States, medical experts
in Malaysia are fearing yet another outbreak of the dreaded FLU (Freedom
and Liberty Unacceptable) epidemic in the country. The FLU virus has
already claimed five victims, all of whom have already been arrested and
charged by police this week. Most have already been brought to court for
examination and may be warded for long-term treatment at the Sungai Buloh
or Kajang prisons.
Among the five are National Justice Party Vice-President Marina Yusof
and Democratic Action Party leader Karpal Singh, who are said to have orally
contracted the ‘Seditionus Actus’ virus while making anti-government
speeches. Editor Zulkifli Sulong and printer Chea Lim Thye are said to
have contracted the same virus from copies of their Opposition newspaper
Harakah. National Justice Party Youth head Mohamad Ezam Noor is said to
have been struck by the ‘Officiallus Secretus Actus’ (OSA) virus
when he distributed official documents implicating corruption among senior
Health Ministry official Dr Chua Ni Pah cautioned Malaysians to avoid
being infected by the epidemic and to stay away from people showing symptoms
of the disease. “Sufferers will tend to display various symptoms, depending
upon the severity of the disease. Some symptoms may be relatively mild,
such as complaining about government leaders or reading anti-government
newspapers and websites. Others may display more acute symptoms, such as
accusing the government of corruption, nepotism and cronyism. The more
chronic cases may even do the unthinkable and criticise our beloved Prime
He warned that among the people most at risk of being infected were
those with a deep sense of justice, a love of freedom and a good understanding
of democratic principles. “Just put those silly thoughts out of your head
and you should be free from infection,” Dr Chua advised. “Better still,
Dr Chua urged people to immunise themselves with regular daily doses
of government propaganda in the mainstream newspapers and television.
He warned that treatment after infection could be very long and uncomfortable.
“Patients may have to be warded in prisons or detention camps for many
years until they are fully cured. In extreme cases, we may have to prescribe
regular doses of arsenic.’
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Abdullah Badawi urged the public not to
panic over the FLU outbreak. "It is a normal matter," he assured.
In another development, Foreign Affairs Ministry officials warned Western
countries not to interfere in Malaysia’s handling of the FLU epidemic,
accusing the US, Australia, Canada and Britain of attempting to smuggle
in vaccines to fight the FLU. Their respective embassies denied the allegations,
stating that their involvement was limited to ‘gathering information’ about
the dreaded virus.
The most widespread FLU epidemic struck Malaysia in 1987, when the ‘Internalus
Security Actus’ (ISA) virus claimed over a hundred victims, causing
many of them to mysteriously disappear from public view for years. The
virus also resulted in the temporary closure of many newspapers, causing
many of them to be visibly weak and sickly up to today.
Dozens more were struck with the ISA virus in September 1998 with the
sacking and arrest of former Deputy Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Anwar himself suffered from terrible wounds to his eye as a result of the
disease. Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had earlier claimed that Anwar
had inflicted the virus upon himself but the doctor examining Anwar, Dr
Rahim Noor, is now being investigated for malpractice in the case. Rahim
claims the virus gave him a sore throat which caused him to “Ehhhemm”
repeatedly during his examination of Anwar.
A variation of the FLU virus – the FRU virus – also attacked tens of
thousands of Malaysians that year, causing them to gather in the streets
and shout anti-government slogans. Federal Reserve Unit riot police treated
the victims with heavy doses of tear gas, chemical sprays, water cannons
and baton charges, followed up by vigorous physio-therapy using their fists
Anwar, who is currently being warded at the Sungai Buloh prison, is
expected to be brought to the High Court later this month for further examination.
The prognosis is not good.