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Man convinced that racism killed his wife

Contributed by Anonymous on Wednesday, March 31 @ 11:18:07 CDT

International: Race, Class, Wed, Mar 31, 2010

AsiaOne HONG KONG - A British author who accused Hong Kong medical staff of racism after his Indian-Malaysian wife died said Wednesday the city's Hospital Authority had agreed to pay him a "substantial sum" to settle the case.

Martin Jacques, author of best-seller "When China Rules the World", said that staff at the Ruttonjee Hospital failed to give timely treatment to his wife, Harinder Veriah, because of her race. She died following an epileptic fit in 2000. Jacques launched a medical negligence lawsuit against the Hospital Authority in 2003. But he reached a settlement Wednesday, one day before the hearing was due to start in the High Court. "The settlement demonstrated that the Hospital Authority was neither willing nor able to defend their treatment of my wife. Hari's death was entirely unnecessary and utterly avoidable,'" he said. The author said he was bound by the settlement agreement to keep the terms confidential. Jacques said that his solicitor wife, then 33, complained to him that she was "at the bottom of the pile" because she was the only Indian in the hospital, while everyone else was Chinese. "I have always believed that if Hari had been white or Chinese she would be alive today." The authority said in a statement Wednesday there was no medical negligence in the treatment of Veriah. The hospital "has repeatedly and categorically denied that Ms Veriah was discriminated against," the statement said. "However, we believe that the settlement entered into is in the interest of all the parties." A Hong Kong inquest held in 2000 heard that Veriah was admitted to hospital in a stable condition. Her condition later deteriorated as her blood-oxygen level dropped. She died following a cardiac arrest. The coroner recorded a verdict of death by natural causes and cleared hospital staff of any negligence. Jacques' accusation of prejudice against his wife sparked a debate about racism in the former British colony. On his return to London in 2002, Jacques secured a second inquest in Britain. The British coroner concluded that serious questions had to be raised about the quality of care she received. At that time, Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office cited the case of Veriah as it called on the Hong Kong government to usher in a law against racial discrimination. The city introduced anti-racial discrimination laws in 2008, following years of campaigning by rights and minority groups. 



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