Witness #5 | Agnes Padan
My name is Agnes Padan. I am from Long Semadoh, Lawas, Sarawak. I am from the Lun Bawang ethnic group. I am a health activist. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, many have lost their jobs and their sources of income. This includes B40 individuals and families.
Our campaign for a better health system began 19 years ago, when my mother passed away due to complications after giving birth to my eighth sibling, Jordan, at the Lawas district hospital, Sarawak.
After two days in hospital, my mother was discharged. The doctor stated that my mother had healed although the surgical wound on her stomach was still wet, and there was pus in it.
Nevertheless, upon the doctor’s orders, my mother was released from the hospital. On the 17th day of that month, she was still in Lawas, staying with relatives. On the following day my mother returned to Long Semadoh in a four-wheel drive vehicle.
On the next morning my mother once again experienced severe bleeding. That was the day my mother died, 28 days after undergoing surgery.
In 2008 we won a lawsuit against the Lawas district hospital doctor and the Malaysian Government for negligence that caused my mother's death.
It takes Lawas residents from the Ulu [interior] areas like Ba’kelalan and Long Semadoh a lot of time to reach the Lawas district hospital, approximately five to six hours of travel in a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Most of the patients from the interior are sent to Miri Hospital, which is even further. It takes five to six hours of travel by land, with eight checkpoints across the Brunei Darussalam border.
Throughout the pandemic, patients were unable to undergo follow-up treatment due to strict Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that were imposed. The cost of travel is also very burdensome for patients and their families. As a result, patients choose not to continue their follow-up treatment.
In 2011, a total of 121.6 million ringgit was allocated for the construction of a new hospital for Lawas. Three tenders have failed, involving hundreds of millions of ringgit.
We have produced a documentary entitled The Story of Kam Agong (accessible at www.youtube.com/watch?v=0M7XOQgXF8I), which explains the issues and challenges that residents in and around Lawas face in terms of healthcare, and the weaknesses of the existing healthcare system that caused the death of my mother.
This is a translation of the original testimony in Bahasa Malaysia.