Dr. Basmullah in Kajang Prison – Karpal takes up case pro bono publico

DAP National Chairman Karpal Singh will take up the case of Dr. Basmullah Yusom, 44, the first doctor to be jailed under a technicality under the Private Health Facilities and Services Act (PHFSA) 1998 as pro bono publico to get him released from Kajang Prison.

As reported by New Straits Times on 19th November 2008, Dr. Basmullah has earned the dubious reputation of being the first person to be convicted under the PHFSA for not registering his 10-year-old clinic in Desa Pandan, Kuala Lumpur.

Fined RM120,000 or three months jail, Dr. Basmullah had been languishing in Kajang Prison for the past fortnight as he does not have the money to pay the fine.

In Penang on Sunday, I had called on the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Gani Patail to intervene in this case of grave injustice and to invoke the revisionary powers inherent in his office to call up Dr. Basmullah’s case to get the Univeristi Sains Malaysia (USM)-trained doctor and father of eight out of jail without any moment of delay.

Alternatively, I had also called on the Chief Judge of Malaya or the Chief Justice of Malaysia to invoke their revisionary powers to call up the case to quash the jail sentence imposed on Dr. Basmullah.

Unfortunately, there has been no response whatsoever from the Attorney-General’s Office or the judiciary.

This was why DAP MP for Ipoh Barat, M. Kulasegaran and I visited Kajang Prisons two days ago where we received confirmation that Dr. Basmullah was serving his jail sentence although we did not get to see him.

I have since been in contact with Dr. Basmullah’s wife, Nurlizah Hassan, who also met Karpal over Dr. Basmullah’s jail term.

I am most disappointed by the indifference and inaction of the Acting Health Minister, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting over such a blatant and flagrant injustice which has occurred directly under his turf, especially as the previous Health Minister and Director-General of Health Services had given repeated assurances that no doctor would be jailed over a technicality under the PHFSA.

This is why a “Don’t Jail Doctors Blog Campaign” has been launched on the Internet by Palmdoc, with the following protest:

“The Government has begun to arrest and jail doctors on a technicality – not registering their clinic with the PHFSA. This act treats doctors like common criminals. These are community doctors who have not committed a serious crime but instead face an incredibly harsh sentence for their technical lapse. Dr Basmullah Yusom, a family practitioner, is the first victim of this legislation. He was sentenced despite not having legal counsel representing him, despite pleading for leniency (he had wanted to sell the clinic anyway and is in financial trouble) and as he could not pay the hefty RM 120,000 fine, he is now in Kajang prison.

“The ex-Health Minister had promised that the Act would be used only against Bogus doctors and Bogus clinics. Yet, we see that legitimate licensed APC holding medical practitioners are now being targeted. “

If Ong Ka Ting does not know what to do in the Dr. Basmullah case, he should ask the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to relieve him from the Ministry and to appoint another Acting Health Minister who can be hands-on to immediately respond to all problems relating to the health and medical system in the country – and not subjecting the country to the disaster of total silence for two weeks from the No. 1 man in the Health Ministry on the Dr. Basmullah jail-sentence scandal.

In this connection, I also call on the Malaysian Medical Association and all medical-related organizations to speak up loud and clear to ask the Attorney-General, the Chief Judge of Malaya or Chief Justice of Malaysia to intervene by calling up Dr. Basmullah’s sentence for revision without having to wait for Karpal to institute legal proceedings which will take time – especially with the various impending public holidays – and involve more delays and injustice.

Let Malaysians show the world that we – the government, the judiciary, the professions and the civil society – are capable of quick and fast action so that injustice meted out to Dr. Basmullah is not prolonged another day!

  1. #1 by toyolbuster on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 9:54 am

    The HP6 govt has a HP6 culture where all good-doers are being severely punished, and all evils are being rewarded. The shameless and spineless Zakaria is not only a law-breaker, but was allowed to keep and boasted about his ill-gotten “palace”. How about putting him behind bars for having operated an unlicensed satay restaurant on state-owned land. If we go into all those technicalities, most govt MPs will have to stay 3months in Kajang.

  2. #2 by raven77 on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 10:12 am

    To Karpal Singh….the medical profession salutes you….

  3. #3 by k1980 on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 10:18 am

    All federal and state government ministers need to register their businesses owned either by themselves or by their relatives or else be sacked, jailed and fined.

  4. #4 by sheriff singh on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 10:31 am

    Bono is pleased too.

  5. #5 by yyh on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 10:40 am

    karpal, great initiative. in this country, its the meek that suffers the most. and this government makes damn sure that this situation continue. many thanks BN.

  6. #6 by scorpian6666 on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 10:46 am

    good on you.
    make us man enough.

  7. #7 by taikohtai on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 11:01 am

    And I doubt very much Dr Basmullah’s former Minister of Health got himself duly registered at the Batu Pahat hotel for his professional activities. Yet the penalties ‘imposed’ are so vastly different…..:(.

  8. #8 by Libra2 on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 11:03 am

    If Dr Basmullah is a UMNO member or related to any UMNO leader or Minister or a friend of the “son-in-law”, this would not have happened to him.
    This seems more like a punishment for having annoyed some UMNO bigwigs.

  9. #9 by DarkHorse on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 11:03 am

    Karpal, last time I wrote to you, you said you’re too busy with other cases to take up my case and they concerned constitutional rights of Malaysians!

  10. #10 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 11:42 am

    Dr Basmullah faced a RM120,000 fine or 3 month sentence because the Health Ministry’s Prosecutor pressed for deterrent sentence. previous Health Minister and Director-General of Health Services. The Prosecutor shouldn’t have done that if the previous Health Minister and Director-General of Health Services had given repeated assurances that no doctor would be jailed over a technicality under the PHFSA. It is a case of head not knowing what tail was doing. Now that Dr Basmullah’s case is known acting Health Minister, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting should take a stand and express his position to AG or Chief Justice, as the case may be applicable instead of doing nothing.

  11. #11 by vehir on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 11:42 am

    As reported by New Straits Times on 19th November 2008. Can you check the correct year and amend the above article in para 2.

  12. #12 by dranony on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 11:45 am

    Recently I googled the words [basmullah keadilan pandan],
    and found that Dr Basmullah may have been a grassroots Keadilan leader, at least back in end2000/early2001:

    Ketua KeADILan Cawangan Kg. Pandan
    Ahli Jawatankuasa KeADILan Bahagian Ampang Jaya”

    If so, it would seem rather surprising that PKR has not taken up his cause.

  13. #13 by Tickler on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 11:51 am

    Another one brewing:

    “His death certificate says he died of a brain infection at the age of 23, but the family believes there could be more suspicious causes linked to his stint as an army ranger because they have not been shown the post-mortem results, he said”.

    See, our guys go to army to serve the country and see what happens. They did something to him, then converted him using his thumbprint. Who gets brain infection at age 23? If he really got brain infection, then proove it with post-mortem la!!!

  14. #14 by Tickler on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 11:53 am

  15. #15 by Tickler on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 12:15 pm

    This too needs pro bono action, alternatively it`s a good election issue on the stupidity of the BN Govt:

    Charging for rainwater a ridiculous idea

    It is disgusting to know that the Selangor Water Authority (Luas) has issued a circular to factories and golf courses demanding that they apply for licences to collect rain water. In addition they also have to pay for the usage.


  16. #16 by sungaisiput on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 12:51 pm

    Its nice to know karpal singh is taking up the case.He is a true malaysian and a fighter.Keep up the good work Karpal.

  17. #17 by Fort on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 1:02 pm

    One only need RM1500, one off payment to register a clinic.

    The fine is RM120,000.

    A GP does not make RM40,000 per month! I will have no choice but to go to jail especially when time is soo bad like now!

    What is happening to our society to put a doctor in jail for failing to register the clinic which was only enforced last year.

    Mathematically, don’t you think the fine is too excessive?

    Good that DAP is helping!

  18. #18 by anak_malaysia on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 1:32 pm


    LUAS not only charge factories and golf course for the rain water. If you take water from the river and underground water, they will charge you too. Errr….who are they charging us for using the natural resources?


  19. #19 by k1980 on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 3:02 pm

    Scenario of what would happen if Lim GT has a son who has converted….

  20. #20 by ktteokt on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 3:03 pm

    We need justice fighters like Karpal Singh to stand up against the government when such unrighteousness is practised.

  21. #21 by mendela on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 3:59 pm

    CNN reported “The spasm of political violence that has crippled Kenya erupted soon after the December elections, when the opposition Orange Democratic Party accused President Mwai Kibaki of rigging the vote to win re-election in a race against its leader Raila Odinga. It soon took on ethnic overtones.

    More than 860 people have been killed and more than 200,000 displaced in the turmoil, the Red Cross said. The Red Cross has put the number at 863. ”

    I hope UMO won’t rig the upcoming GE.
    The consequence can be deadly!

  22. #22 by Tickler on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 4:31 pm

    anak_malaysia Says: Today at 13: 32.15

    I think rivers and underground water is different. That comes under DID.
    But here it`s a collection of `run away` water. Next thing they`ll be taxing the people for breathing.

  23. #23 by ahkok1982 on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 5:37 pm

    If they want to tax people for breathing then i would just fart in their face for free. they can breathe it in all they want

  24. #24 by yyh on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 5:42 pm

    luas fellas will have to pay for the fart coz it comes with a smell unlike odourless air. thats what you get when someone is placed there at the top based on other criteria exept meritocracy.

  25. #25 by Thomas Lee on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 6:41 pm

    RM120,000 fine for not registering a clinic! Those operating illegal workshops or running illegal businesses just get compounded for a few hundred ringgit.

    And what about building a multi-million ringgit mansion without approval? Just a few hundred ringgit fine! And the mansion becomes legal too! Cheaper then to ask a lawyer to apply for approval. Perhaps w should build our houses or renovate them first and be fined a small sum to make our buildings legal,

    If the good doc is a fake one, such a big fine is justified. But he is trained at USM and a legimatd doctor. I have not heard of even bogus doctors fined more than a few thousand ringgit.

    I am not saying they should let the poor (pun meant) doctor go free without any punishment. A few of perhaps RM500 and a warning that his practising cert may be suspended for a year if he repeats the offence would be sufficient.

    RM120,000 is surely a bit stiff.

  26. #26 by madmix on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 7:40 pm

    You can open a factory and sell weight loss medicine and male virility medicine as “herbal products”. After registration of the product, you spike them with viagra and schedule weight loss medicine. If you are caught ( a few have been in the past), you get a small fine and your factory license is withdrawn. Peanut punishment for the millions you made ripping off the public. This has happened in the last few years.

    You can open beauty salon, inject industrial silicone to enhance nose and breasts. Get caught and nothing happens, you won’t even be charged in court.

  27. #27 by undergrad2 on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 8:00 pm

    This is not a travesty of justice so much as the wheel of justice never really turned for the defendant who obviously was too indigent to afford counsel.

    Is the poof drafting of the legislation to be blamed or poor leadership or just a case of sentencing guideline in the hands of the wrong judge?

  28. #28 by iyamwhoiyam on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 11:19 pm

    Go karpal……

    and yeah…bono will be damned damned proud sheriff =)

  29. #29 by DarkHorse on Thursday, 31 January 2008 - 11:56 pm

    You cannot be both pro Bono and pro Cher.

  30. #30 by firstMalaysian on Friday, 1 February 2008 - 6:42 am

    Those opening brothels, massage parlours, illegal gaming, illegal satay stalls, illegal construction of mansions etc do not get that hefty fines and jailed.

    This is a wake up call to all Malaysians to fight for justice and fairness irrespective of our backgrounds and deny the HP6 BN Government the 2/3 majority.

  31. #31 by Jeffrey on Friday, 1 February 2008 - 1:17 pm

    According to NST report today Director-General of Health Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said that “It’s not that we do not care for doctors or are unsympathetic to them and that I want the medical fraternity and public to know what exactly happened.”

    According to Dr Ismail Merican:-

    · “the Dr Basmullah Yusom was given chance, after his Al-Hilal Medical Centre Sdn Bhd was sealed on July 11, last year, to register” and procure license at cost of RM1,500 but he still didn’t.

    · Dr Basmullah also declined the Health Ministry’s offer to pay installments of fine of RM120,000 as option to stay out of jail, and again her didn’t take the offer of installment payments.

    · In respect of Medical community’s misgivings of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 (Act 586) into force on May 1, 2006, Dr Ismail Merican said “the ministry has so far approved the registration of 6,322 clinics, 1,439 dental clinics and 51 clinics which offer aesthetic procedures” and according to him, this spoke volumes of the support from the majority of doctors.

    This kind of registration does not speak volume of support. It simply means many who could afford RM1500 for the license register to avoid the hassle of what Basmullah Yusom has gone through so far.

    See: http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Friday/National/2147250/Article/index_html

  32. #32 by dranony on Friday, 1 February 2008 - 2:03 pm

    “Support from majority of doctors?!”
    Just because doctors had to comply out of fear did NOT meant that they “supported!”
    Did the Jewish Concentration Camp victims “support” the Holocaust simply because they _did not refuse_ to board the trains to Auschwitz?

    As Jeffrey had suggested, perhaps most of the other doctors _complied_ (NOT supported), simply because they were not in as poor financial standing as Dr Basmullah. He was already in debt, and had outstanding bills.

    Perhaps many non-doctors do not know this, but the PHFSAct 1998, came along with some new regulations, called “Regulations2006” which were signed into effect by Chua Soi Lek on 1st May 2006, totally WITHOUT discussion or consultation with private sector doctors.
    These Regulations2006 threatened clinics which had been operating without problem for the past ten or twenty years, such that the clinics were required to undergo renovations and modifications and additions as well as purchase emergency equipment of disputed efficacy, or otherwise run afoul of the law.
    I am not sure if Dr Basmullah may have thought that he would have to ensure that his clinic undergo renovations to comply with the disputed specifications, before he applied for the registration. The renovations, if done, would have cost much money, as well as interruption in income stream, due to work stoppage.
    Fortunately for some doctors, there are online discussion groups which were kept informed of ongoing discussions with Ministry officials, and that doctors were told that there was no need for the renovations “for the time being.” However, it is uncertain if Dr Basmullah had known of this, or had access to these forums.
    If he had NOT known, it might explain why he was hesitant to apply for registration.
    If an application is rejected, the applicant is required to submit another fresh application, after making required amendments, with ANOTHER application fee – costing ANOTHER RM500!

You must be logged in to post a comment.