Fahmy Malak Accepts Guam Job
But his failure to disclose controversy puts post on hold.
BY MAX BRANTLEY
Malak has been offered, and returned a signed contract accepting, the job as Guam's chief medical examiner, subject to ratification by the Board of Licensure on Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific.
But the retiring Guam medical examiner, Dr. Hee-Yong Park, has raised questions about Malak's credibility because of a misstatement of credentials on his resume. And, since then, the controversy has grown with disclosures in Pacific Daily News about the controversies surrounding Malak in Arkansas.
Malak never told members of the commission seeking to fill the position of his troubled tenure in Arkansas, Guam Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson has said. Anderson chairs the Postmortem Examination Commission, which is in charge of finding a new medical examiner.
Malak applied for the job in December 1991 and was interviewed by Guam officials later. "We even had a personal interview in June of last year and he mentioned nothing," Barrett-Anderson said.
Malak's hiring has been put on hold, at least until Monday, Aug. 17, so that he may have an opportunity to respond to press accounts of his Arkansas tenure and to explain the discrepancy Park found in Malak's resume.
Malak was unavailable for comment to the Arkansas Times. His secretary at the state Health Department, where Malak has worked as a $70,000-a-year consultant since resigning as medical examiner under fire Sept. 10, said he was away from the office for two weeks.
Malak resigned after nearly 12 years as medical examiner amid a growing controversy over his rulings. An ad hoc group, VOMIT, (Victims of Malak's Incredible Testimony) also has protested Malak's continued employment in a state job. Malak's job performance also has been an issue in the presidential race. Gov. Bill Clinton has had to defend the state's longtime employment of Malak amid ongoing controversy. Questions also have been raised by the Los Angeles Times and NBC, among others, about Malak's findings in the case of an assault victim who died during a surgery in which Clinton's mother was the nurse anesthetist. (The case occurred while Clinton was out of office and independent pathologists have concurred with Malak's findings in the case.)
Malak's initial problems on Guam stemmed from Park's questioning of why Malak had held throughout his 12-year tenure in Arkansas an associate professor's post at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Park Suggested that Malak should have been promoted over such a long period.
But when Park asked Malak about the matter, Malak told him his resume was incorrect; he actually was a lower-ranked assistant professor. When Park checked further in Arkansas, he found that Malak was only an unpaid clinical assistant professor. As it happens, Malak's misrepresentation of credentials was one of the issues in a series of reports by the Arkansas Gazette several years ago.
Officials in Guam learned of Malak's controversial tenure in Arkansas through a quirk. A visiting law enforcement official from the U.S. happened to be visiting while the hiring of Malak was being discussed and mentioned that he had recently seen a televised news segment, related to the Clinton campaign, about Malak.
That set off a round of further checks and a series of articles detailed Malak's autopsy findings as well as defense of Malak from Jim Clark, director of the state Crime Laboratory, and from Dr. Michael Graham, A St. Louis medical examiner who has been reviewing 13 of Malak's disputed cases. Graham said he would have disagreed with Malak in only two of the cases and in relatively minor ways.
Guam officials have been checking Malak's references in Arkansas in recent weeks. Clark has emphasized Malak's workload. The state of Arkansas now employs three pathologists to do the work that Malak, at times, did alone.
Given the workload, and the inherently emotional nature of the work, Clark said Malak's record was solid. "Thirteen questionable cases out of 7,000-percentagewise, that's not very many," Clark said.