Thursday, October 21, 2004

Sultan Aminah Hospital - Fungi Infection



According to Samy Vellu, the fungus problem at the new $557.8 million Sultan Ismail Hospital in JB was caused by the failure of the hospital management to undertake routine maintenance but Health Minister thinks that the problem was due to structural defects.

The hospital was supposed to be completed on July 29, 2002, but 3-extensions were given due to various problems and was only completed on Nov 14, 2003 and handed over to the PWD on Feb 15, 2004. The Health Ministry took over from the PWD on March 2004 and appointed Pantai Medivest Sdn Bhd to oversee daily maintenance and monitoring of the building supervisory systems, reporting defects and damage to the main contractor. “There was no daily routine checks on the hospital due to lack of staff. The presence of the fungus on the 2nd and 3rd Level of the hospital was due to damage to the air-conditioner valve, which was not reported as there was no building supervisory system,” said Samy Vellu.

However, Dr. Chua said the fungus problem was due to structural defects and not due to delay in routine maintenance. In dismissing Samy Vellu’s report as “Defective” Dr Chua said the fungus was caused by the dampness in the hospital following leakage in its major roof and low human traffic.

“The roof was like a big retention pond,” said Dr Chua. “We (Health Ministry) received the hospital in good faith on March 15 this year but it was full of defects. Besides major leaking problems, there were also problems in the piping system which had affected gas flow and also problem in the sewerage. The problems were made known to the contractor, who had promised to rectify them but did not do so,” Dr Chua said yesterday.

So, who was right and who is wrong????

Actually, both Ministers are right!

Hospital management must make routine inspections and if the air-conditioning valve was damaged and unreported (as claimed by Samy), definitely, it will cause dampness and ultimately leads to fungi growth - SO, SAMY WAS RIGHT! Hurray Uncle Sam.... but.....

Well, at the same time, the roof was a retention pond, there were major leaking problems, piping problems, and sewerage system failures of which the promised restification was not done timely, as claimed by Chua Soi Lek - THEREFORE Dr Chua IS ALSO RIGHT! Yahooooo......but.......

THEN, who is WRONG? Who is the CULPRIT? Is it the CONTRACTOR (MH Project Sdn Bhd) or the HOSPITAL MANAGEMENT SERVICE PROVIDER (Pantai Medivest Sdn Bhd)?

Ironically, both Ministries would not look into the contractual aspects related to the problem. The question arises are:

1) If the health Ministry was not happy with the conditions of the facility of which it was alleged that the works are not conforming to the specifications and standards, then why did they willingly, take over the building? GOOoood FAITHhhhh? Now, it's bad BLOOooooD!

2) If the roof is like a retention pond, (as claimed by Dr Chua), and is leaking badly, it is amusing that PWD had issued a Certificate of Completion (CPC) to the contractor ....... that's professional negligence on the part of PWD engineers.

3) Since taking over the facility by the Health Ministry, how is it contractually managed with regard to Defects Management and the contractual communication related to the Defects Liability Period of the contractor? And how is it that the line of communication seemed to be that the Health Ministry was talking and liaising directly with the main contractor which is not what the contract stipulates - i.e, the contract requires the Superintendent Officer (S.O.) to issue instruction to the main contractor for defects rectification during the defects liability period and failure to respond timely by the contractor, the contract does provide the S.O. to engage others to carry out the work and the cost incurred shall be debited to the contractor. At such, the question that the contractor did not respond to the Health Ministry's Instruction did not arise as the contractor need not take instruction from the Ministry except from the S.O.

In conclusion, the allegation against the contractor is mala fide. The contractor may have done a bad job, but since the employer (i.e. JKR) had accepted the works and issued the CPC, the contractor's responsibility is presumed to have been fulfilled if they did not receive any instructions from the S.O. to make good any defects; and the contractor cannot be held responsible for the damages arising thereof. Morally and socially, the contractor maybe the cause or the contributor to the problem but contractually, he is absolved of the responsibility if the failure on the part of the S.O. to give the necessary instruction did not take place.

Since the Health Ministry had decided to be friendly, and .... have GOOoooD FAITHhhhhh, and had INFACT, contractually accepted to take over the facility, then, they had taken over the contractual responsibility to manage the building and it's associated services; and they must be held fully responsible - for their actions and their decisions. In that sense, when the service management contractor was appointed to manage the building, how could they claimed that it was not their fault that they did nothing except to wait for the main contractor to rectify the defects, which in reality, they should be taking proactive actions to ensure that the building and its services are functioning in accordance with the operation definition. Where is the "Duty of Care" & "Reasonableness" ?????

A Contract is a Contract; Nothing More, Nothing Less!

Every party to the contract must know their role and responsibilities as laid down in the terms and conditions of contract. Every party to a contract must understand their "Rights" and their "Obligations". Each party must also know of the associated risks they will face and the consequences of their decisions and actions that lead to the risk that had happen. Even among the Ministries, there is an unwritten contract of "Duty of Care" and a "Duty to the Rakyat" for spending $558 million on a facility that is malfunctioning and would not serve it's objectives.

The same goes to the Highway problems (MRR2), East-coast Karak Highway shambles, The Langkawi "White Elephants" Schools, and the Matrade Building Debacle. Infact, there are many more systemic failures in Government projects ... computer lab fiascos, PUAS fiascos, Simpang Pulai - Kampung Raja Sloppy slope design (awaiting failures), Gemas Army Barrack project & payment fiascos, Gua Musang- Lojing Highway Slope failing (awaiting failure), Broga landfill project fiascos, et al.

More of these bad news will surface soon and probably, Pak-Lah who had directed the Sports Ministry to form a Cabinet Committee for sports revitalization may also have to form another Cabinet Committee and Advisory Panel to manage the Government Project Management System. The Sports Committee headed by Azalina engaged Hallam Pereira to tell her what our sports officials had already told her predecessors; and so, the Government Project Management committee may also need a foreign consultant to tell them what we local professionals had already known and widely spoken and discussed within the project management community. Is that the Government's way of SOLUTION MANAGEMENT - i.e engage Foreign Consultant, pay through your nose and get a "BLUEPRINT" of our known problems and known solutions and then ARCHIVED the file. IMPLEMENTATION? NAY, NAY, NAY .....oh NO NO NOooooo!!!!!