What a weekend!
On Saturday we were shocked by the news that Malaysian scientists have found a new virus, carried by bats that can give you respiratory problems; and because they found the virus in Melaka, the scientists decided to call it the Melaka Virus.
On Sunday, the name of the virus became the irk of Datuk Seri Rustam, the Chief Minister of Melaka. He believed that naming the virus after the state was an insult!
“Malacca is a good state, beautiful and peaceful, not the birthplace of diseases,” the Star quoted him saying.
And by Sunday evening Dr Chua Soi Lek, the Health Minister, conceded to the Chief Minister and will try to come with a new name so as to "not tarnish the good name of the state".
As I write this an Indian Medical News Portal has already chronicled the weekend's event.
So why the fuss over the name?
The Baltimore Sun attempted to try to shed some light to this, in an article trying to explain how the SARS virus was difficult to name.
They mentioned that usually the official name for a disease could come from a place, a doctor, the appearance of a virus or various other sources.
They cited an example of a name of a virus that could have gone wrong:
"L Adrew Ball, a professor of microbiology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, discovered a virus last year and admits he would have liked to call it the "Andy Ball virus." But he knew better than to try."The good professor continued:
"There's an unwritten rule that the person who first describes a virus has the right to name it. But sometimes there are disagreements over who was first."but,
"the practice lends itself to self-aggrandizement"But Professor Ball did point out that while virus taxonomy is fun, "naming a virus can be a politically and socially sensitive issue if it's a real killer."
He's daaamn right about it being politically sensitive!
Dr Chua said earlier that the virus will be named after where the patient infected with the virus is from.
Anyway, Datuk Seri Rustam maybe irked again if he finds out that the name of his state in greek is so not happening at all.
Malakas in greek means wanker.
Now maybe the Chief Minister might want to press for a change in the state's name for the sake of saving state tourism since the bad word is out.
Err... maybe not!
Don't know what the word wanker means?
Let me show you...
Still don't know?
In Malay it's called pelancap ;)
Have a great week ahead!