When one falls sick, one goes to the hospital. For the rich, there are many medical centres around to pick from. For the have nots in Malaysia, it is the good old gahmen hospitals that they go to.
Well times have changed and not for the better. Universiti Malaysia Medical Centre, now a teaching hospital, has introduced a policy denying morgue facilities to the dead.
This has gotten Hindraf all worked up, but I actually agree with them. You know why? Because this ban is only extended to non-Muslims.
Excerpts of the reply from UMMC below.
Dr Mustafa was commenting on a FMT story that quoted undertakers as saying they were puzzled about the ruling against the preparation for burial of non-Muslim bodies at the morgue.
He said the ban was in fact an early phase of a long-term overhaul of the hospital’s policy on the use of morgue services.
“The board members have decided that our vision and mission should change. We are a teaching hospital. We are not like the general hospitals. We are a referral hospital. It is not an obligation of the hospital to handle the bodies of the diseased.”
Asked to explain why Muslims could still process the bodies of their dead there, Dr Mustafa said this was a temporary arrangement that would end with the completion of Universiti Malaya’s Islamic Centre, which is under construction.
“The hospital does not make special arrangements for the Muslim bodies,” he said. “There is an Islamic charity society consisting of hospital staff which makes these arrangements for them. When the Islamic Centre is ready, these bodies will be processed there instead.”
Eventually, he added, the morgue would admit bodies for preparation only out of medical concerns, such as when death results from AIDS or tuberculosis.
“These bodies cannot be brought home for fear that they may infect the family members,” he said.
Referring to difficulties faced by poor families because the new ruling often means increased funeral expenses, he said they should seek help from the hospital’s welfare department.
“We have a welfare department in the hospital. These families can appeal for assistance there. We don’t want families to be under additional stress and we would want to assist wherever possible.”
Dr Mustafa dismissed a suggestion that the restriction of morgue services came with a change of leadership at the hospital. He said UMMC’s current director, Dr Ikram Shah Ismail, had held his post since 2006.
You see, Mustafa Ali says it does not affect the Muslims at the moment. Good, at least some funeral preparations can go on.
But you see now the two kinds of Malaysia that we live in. There could have been a better way to handle this matter. Of course, the teaching hospital is not really interested in your body once life has gone out of it, unless it’s Muslim. I believe that if they had extended the ban to Muslims too, UMMC would not be standing today.
Burial services are ones in which religious and cultural implications have a big say. The dead deserve respect and the respective communities deserve to bury their dead in accordance with their customary rites, just as Muslims do.
Mustafa says it’s the ambulance-chasing undertaker types that led to this decision, but then ones that are paying for it are the grieving families (some of whom are poor) who would have to fork out even more.
Hospitals are supposed to be a place where compassion is the cornerstone. Supposedly laa. Now that UMMC has become bigger and more corporate, I guess the ethos would also move in tandem with our pricier private hospitals.
I don’t think this is quite racism…I think this is corporate whitewashing that wants to take UMMC to the next level, and leave behind the unwashed masses and their mess.
Hindraf should not be the only ones highlighting the disparity of treatment here. This decision applies to ALL non-Muslims.
All this just drives home the message that when you are a minority and you are poor, your needs are negligible, your rights are non-existent and your very existence is at the mercy of those in power.
Sad. Especially considering that UMMC is still an institution that is endowed by taxpayers.