SINGAPORE: A 24-year-old Singaporean man has died from injuries after he was hit by a car in Johor Baru last Friday (Aug 25).
The victim, Justinian Tan, had been with five other friends in JB for supper that day. They had been heading back to their car along Jalan Dato Abdullah Tahir in Taman Abad at about 3am when the accident happened.
Another member of the group, 24-year-old Brandon Yeo, was struck by the Malaysian-registered car as well. He suffered a broken femur, but has since been discharged from hospital.
Their friend, Ernest Lee, who witnessed the accident, said authorities were slow to respond to the emergency.
"We got passers-by to help us, calling for an ambulance and all. However, it took about 20 minutes to half an hour for them to come. We were terribly frustrated and angered because they just took their time,” he claimed.
In a statement on Friday, Malaysia's Ministry of Health refuted Mr Lee's account, saying that emergency services had made a "very timely response" and that the ambulance had not taken as long to arrive as claimed.
The two men were taken to Sultanah Aminah Hospital in JB, where family and friends learnt that Mr Tan needed to be operated on immediately.
However the hospital was not equipped to perform the surgery, Mr Lee said, adding that staff withheld preliminary medical scans until the family offered to pay cash up-front.
In its statement, Malaysia's Ministry of Health refuted this as well, adding that emergency treatment had been given to Mr Tan "without asking for any deposit since this (was) an emergency case".
It was only when family members arrived that they were asked to pay for the scans, the ministry added.
It noted that Mr Tan's family members chose to have him discharged at their own risk, a process known as AOR discharge.
Both men were sent back to Singapore around 11am that same day. Mr Tan was treated at Singapore General Hospital while Mr Yeo was admitted to Gleneagles Hospital.
Mr Tan, who lost consciousness upon impact, was declared brain dead on Monday. He died on Wednesday morning after being in a coma for five days.
Witnesses say the driver sped off after the accident, but later turned himself in to authorities. Malaysian authorities are currently investigating the incident.
Friends and family Channel NewsAsia spoke with said Mr Tan was a "selfless man" who always put his family first. He was also the second youngest of four children.
Mr Tan's sister Jaslene said her brother initially declined to go to Malaysia with his friends as he wanted to accompany his aunt to a doctor’s appointment the next day. He eventually went ahead after sorting out his schedule.
Said Ms Tan: “Before he went to Johor Baru, my brother asked my mum if he could go with his friends, and my mum was very worried because it was late.
“My brother, being a very happy, positive person, said: 'Mum what are you afraid of? Nothing to be scared of.'"
Following his death, Ms Tan wrote a note to her brother on Facebook, saying hundreds came to bid him farewell: "Through them, I have learnt about the greatness of your humility, your sincerity, your willingness to help others unconditionally, your cheerfulness (and so much more)."
Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said it was saddened by the death of Mr Tan.
"We are saddened by the unfortunate passing of Justinian Tan. The Singapore Consulate-General in Johor Bahru had rendered consular assistance to the Singaporeans involved, including assisting with the arrangements to transfer the injured Singaporeans back to Singapore," MFA said.
"NO DELAY OR DEMAND FOR PAYMENT": MALAYSIA MINISTRY OF HEALTH
In its Friday statement, Malaysia's Ministry of Health gave a detailed account of the events since the accident.
"From the ambulance service records, it was noted that the emergency call was made at 2.57am on the (sic) 25th August 2017," the ministry said. It added that the ambulance left Sultanah Aminah Hospital at 2.59am, arrived at the accident site at 3.10am and departed from the scene with the patient at 3.15am.
"Kudos to the ambulance call services for a very timely response, with despatch time of two minutes and response time of 13 minutes."
Once at the hospital, emergency treatment was immediately given to Mr Tan, the ministry said, adding that the hospital's emergency department team started necessary treatment - including imaging such as X-rays and CT scan - and referrals "in a very timely and professional manner, without asking for any deposit since this is an emergency case".
An "urgent decompressive craniectomy plus removal of clot and intracranial pressure monitoring was planned without demand for deposit", the statement went on to say.
"Subsequent to this, the family members arrived, and only then they were asked to proceed with payment of the imaging amounting RM2,575 (S$818)," it added.
"However the family members opted for discharge at own risk (AOR discharge) and arranged for admission to a hospital in Singapore after understanding the risk involved of further delaying the surgery."
Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect clarifications made by Malaysia's Ministry of Health in response to points made by Mr Ernest Lee.