Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia – A True Story, A Blood Story
Not too long ago, I was the escorting doctor for a blood donation drive. It was held on a Saturday, and was organized by the Kota Kinabalu Branch of Gerakan. Now I didn’t know that initially of course, but even if I did, I would still have gone along. I’m no political fanatic who’ll refuse to participate in something noble organized by a party I oppose and detest much.
Starting at 8.00 am, it was mostly an uneventful day.
The time was nearing 4.15 pm. The blood drive was due to end by 5 pm. The organizing committee was getting restless, so was I. They were restless because Gerakan had yet to fulfill their aim of 50 donors. I was restless because the afternoon was warm and humid. I was on call the night before, barely slept an hour and by 5 pm that day, I would have been awake for almost 36 hours. At 4.30 pm, one of the organizing committee members brought 10 of his Filipino construction workers to the event. Sabahans were not as generous with their blood as they had expected. He had decided the only way to meet their promised target of 50 donors was by getting his labourers to part with 500cc of blood. He was cheered and commended by his other Gerakan accomplices.
I was less than impressed or amused.
Firstly, it was unethical to use one’s position of authority to coerce subordinates into an activity like blood donation. Nothing in medicine is without risk. Blood donation is no exception, both to the donor and the future recipient. Donating blood requires informed consent. His workers, uneducated as they are, may be informed about the adverse effects of blood donation, but were they truly consenting out of free will, or was it out of fear of employer backlash?
My blood was boiling.
I had known better not to judge a book by its cover, but these Filipinos ruggards just didn’t appear to be safe blood donors. They had tattoos all over. They were young, single and testosterone-charged men living among other men. They work half the day away, toiling at construction sites. When night falls, young, single, testosterone-charged men will invite other men for some extracurricular activities. Sex trade is rampant in Kota Kinabalu and Sabah in general. Young uneducated Filipino/Indonesians girls are literally cheap, well within the expenditure of most hardcore labourers.
Energetized men with rushing libido coupled with unschooled girls whose bodies are for hire – a perfect recipe for transmission of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B,C, syphilis and any STDs.
I put up a straight face, despite the fact I was exhausted deep within.
I interrogated the ten men aged between 15 – 45 years. They were not informed for what purpose they were there for. The fifteen-year-old was automatically rejected – he was in no position to make an informed consent, though he just might be smarter than most UiTM graduates. Some of the others confessed to multiple visits to brothels, hardly any surprises there. All had tattoos performed under unsterile methods by non-professionals, which was probably why their tattoos were so downright horrible. The remaining few, after seeing their friends grilled on their sex life by a young doctor, denied any sexual promiscuity despite my strict persistence.
I had no choice.
Like VK Lingam, one’s testimony has to be accepted when one refuses to confess even in the midst of strong circumstances suggesting otherwise. Four of the ten were subsequently cleared for transfusion. The Gerakan guy was applauded by his friends. I am not informed of the further tests on their donated blood prior to transfusion. I can only hope they were clean and properly tested before transfusion. Granted, all donated blood are tested twice prior to transfusion, but there is always a window period where the infection is present, but not detectable. Minimizing the adverse effects of blood transfusions starts at the lowest level – selecting the right donors which was not practiced in this Gerakan effort.
This is the story of a political party that placed more emphasis on saving face rather than the safety of the community they live in. This is the tale of a Gerakan lapdog who will attempt so score political points even if that meant forcing individuals to do something potentially risky against one’s freewill. This is my account of a one-day working experience with Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. I have no idea how many blood donation drives BN component parties organize each year. I dread to think that these same people will be behind the scenes of future events, or the commanding voices in the corridors of power.
This is my Gerakan story. This is a blood story. Above all else, this is a true story.