By Juana Jaafar
I was at Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus a week ago for the World
Universities Peace Invitational Debate (WUPID).
The four day event was
proudly hosted by Taylor’s University which opened its doors to debate
teams from Malaysia and abroad. Sadly, the organisers and participants
witnessed a most unfortunate incident during our lunch break on the very
first day of the event (Saturday, 1 December 2012).
I was dining with other debate adjudicators at around 2:15pm when,
from the corner of my eye, I noticed a woman sitting alone at a nearby
table. She looked quite ill. I quickly walked over to check on her and
found that she was very weak and salivating from one side of her mouth. I
immediately thought she must have had a stroke.
She was a worker at the
campus food court, Recezz, and her uniform was drenched in sweat and
Her colleague soon came along and said the woman had collapsed in the
wash room. She was carried out to the food court to rest.
adjudicators and I asked how long she had been in that state, and if
anyone had called for an ambulance, we were told the poor woman had been
sitting there since about 10:00am. We were also told that her employer
promised to take her to the hospital, at some point. My colleagues and I
Apparently it was the third time the woman collapsed on the
job, and this time the right side of her body was completely paralyzed.
One of the adjudicators telephoned for an ambulance while a couple of us
sought after the employer.
He was on site and aware we were tending to
his worker. Not once did he check on on her, rather he watched from afar
while the rest of us tried to help her.
When approached, he merely
stirred his drink and nonchalantly told us he would take her to the
hospital when he was not busy. He certainly was not busy at the time we
confronted him and seemed quite disinterested in the commotion.
The other workers told us they had urged their employer to take the
woman to hospital quickly, but he refused. With help from other
sympathetic workers we tried to keep her as comfortable as possible
while waiting for the ambulance. She was in fact in pain from the fall
in the wash room.
Her colleague helped gather her things and prepared her
documentation—she is an Indonesian citizen. What happened to her was
really tragic, and I hate to think she was not given immediate help
because she was a foreign worker.
The ambulance came about half an hour later. It was terribly
embarrassing having to tell our Australian colleague it was common for
an ambulance to take that much time to arrive. It was even more
embarrassing that he, and other guests from abroad, found out that the
woman had been sitting there in the food court for more than four hours without help from a single soul.
Is this who we are as Malaysians?
Are we so oblivious to the suffering of those around us? Or are we
just cruel? I direct these questions particularly to the students and
staff who were at the food court during the four hours the woman was
sitting there. What exactly is being taught at Taylor’s University?
The management of the University has a lot to account for. What
happened to that woman is a clear sign of negligence by the University;
one that boasts state-of-the-art facilities but with abysmal
The incident suggests that someone could very well drop
dead on campus without anyone noticing.
The seriousness of the case
above could in fact have led to death.
The woman could have died in the
wash room or at the food court, in full view of everyone there.
This also raises questions about the University’s health and safety
training for campus workers.
There are signages indicating a Health
Service Centre that operates from 8am to 6pm but not one worker on that
day thought of getting help from the Centre, or the security services.
Do they not know these services exist on campus? Why were the workers so
disempowered to take action in an emergency situation? Were they not
given basic training?
I note again that it was the organisers and volunteers of WUPID, an
external organisation, who called and waited for the ambulance at the
campus entrance; not any of the security personnel or the woman’s direct
Her employer did not even escort her to the hospital.
I urge Taylor’s University to look into this case. The woman is a
victim of negligence and the University must be held accountable.
only should the University be responsible for her medical care and
expenses at the University Malaya Medical Centre where she was taken, it
must see that her employer’s contract at the food court is terminated.
He is certainly not fit to be an employer nor a member of the Taylor’s
Or is he?
Juana Jaafar is a Taylor’s College alumnus (American Degree Programme). She was a member of the WUPID adjudicating core.