‘Nobody should experience this kind of loss’, says daughter of pufferfish poisoning couple
KLUANG, Johor – The family of the elderly couple in Johor who died after unknowingly consuming pufferfish has pleaded to the public to stop selling and buying the fish.
The couple’s daughter, Ms Ng Ai Lee, 51, said losing her mother and father – Madam Lim Siew Guan, 83, and Mr Ng Chuan Sing, 84 – this way was very painful for her family.
The family laid Mr Ng to rest at the Chamek Chinese Cemetery in the town of Kluang on Wednesday. Madam Lim was also buried there on March 29.
“I hope this tragedy stops with our family. Nobody should experience this kind of loss,” said Ms Ng.
“Fishmongers should also find it in their hearts to put aside their personal interest and stop selling pufferfish – my parents’ deaths were two lives too many lost.”
Ms Ng’s parents bought the fish, commonly known ikan buntal in Malay and drumstick fish among the Chinese community (due to its resemblance to a chicken drumstick), unknowingly from a trusted fishmonger on March 25.
Madan Lim then cleaned and fried the fish for lunch on the same day.
She began experiencing breathing difficulties and shivered after that, while her husband began showing similar symptoms about an hour later.
Madam Lim died later that evening, while Mr Ng subsequently died last Saturday, two days after he was transferred from the hospital’s intensive care unit to the normal ward.
Ms Ng also called on the government to take firm action against the irresponsible parties involved in her parents’ death, as well as fishmongers found selling the poisonous fish.
She said that Malaysia’s director-general of health, Tan Sri Noor Hisham Abdullah, in a statement on March 31, had said Section 13 of the Food Act 1983 prohibits the sale of any food that is poisonous and harmful.
“As such, those responsible for my parents’ death should be held accountable under the law and I hope the authorities will speed up investigations.,” added Ms Ng.
She said her family will submit a letter to Health Minister Zaliha Mustafa soon to highlight the matter as her family wanted the government to take firm action to prevent the loss of more lives in future.
“The public can also play a role in reporting the sale of pufferfish to the authorities to stop the sale of the poisonous items. I hope my family’s experience is enough to raise public awareness and educate consumers about the dangers of consuming the fish,” she added.
When contacted, Johor health and unity committee chairman Ling Tian Soon said he had brought up the couple’s death during a meeting with the Health Ministry and state executive councillors on Tuesday.
“I highlighted the state government’s major concern about the matter and urged the ministry to speed up its investigation.
“The state also hoped the ministry could work with the Fisheries Department to seek law reforms to better control the sale of pufferfish and prevent such incidents from occurring again in the future,” said Mr Ling. – THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK