KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 24 — Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman today protested against the government’s decision to eliminate the critical allowance of new doctors, pharmacists, and nurses entering the civil service.
The youth and sports minister said, for a start, he would cut short his annual leave and return his holiday allowance.
“I’ve already reduced 10 per cent of my salary and I’ll ensure that others will be reduced as well until this problem is resolved,” Syed Saddiq posted on Twitter.
“I disagree with the elimination of the critical allowance for our young doctors and nurses. We should instead review all the allowances given to politicians and ministers like me.
“We should not wrong our young doctors and nurses and those in critical services. They’re already heavily overworked and underpaid.”
CodeBlue broke the news earlier today about a December 20 Public Service Department (JPA) circular on the Pakatan Harapan administration’s decision to abolish the Critical Service Incentive Payment (BIPK) for government workers across 33 Critical Service schemes who are appointed from January 1, 2020.
Critical Service schemes, which were started in 1992, comprise jobs that are considered vital to Malaysia’s development.
Doctors, pharmacists, and dentists will no longer receive the monthly RM750 BIPK allowance when they enter the civil service next year, but the critical allowance is retained for existing government workers.
Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii also objected against the government’s decision to remove the critical allowance, noting that most doctors, pharmacists, dentists, and other critical service workers are underpaid, unappreciated, and overworked.
“Such a circular does not only demoralise the upcoming batch of new health care professionals, but also may affect productivity which as a result again may compromise the quality of care given to the patients,” Dr Yii, who’s a trained doctor, told CodeBlue in a statement.
“This should not be how we treat our future civil servants who need to work day in and day out, taking long shifts in the hospital, and also exposing themselves to diseases and infection.”Dr Kelvin Yii, Bandar Kuching Member of Parliament (DAP)
Like Syed Saddiq, the DAP lawmaker also said he would rather the government cut the allowances of politicians like himself than of young health care professionals or other civil servants in the critical sector.
“That is why I call on the Cabinet to review this decision, find other alternatives and also explain the whole situation better so a better understanding of the matter can be done and a better solution can be found,” said Dr Yii.
Austerity, he said, should start in other areas, even right from the top, without affecting those who need allowances to be retained in public service.
“We need more doctors in the public sector as we are looking at a further increase of patient load, especially in view of our aging society and even prevalent NCDs (non-communicable diseases). That means the workload of these doctors will definitely increase.
“That is why it is vital to find ways to incentivise more to stay, not under appreciating them and pushing them away from the public sector.”
According to Health Ministry records, the number of patient visits comprising both inpatient and outpatient visits to government hospitals and clinics has quadrupled in a decade, from 17 million visits in 2008 to 77 million visits last year.
For other new government workers joining the Critical Service schemes next year, the BIPK allowance which they’ll lose comprises 5 per cent of the monthly basic salary for the management and professional group, or 10 per cent of the monthly basic salary for the administrators’ group. Nurses’ BIPK allowance is 10 per cent of their monthly basic salary in the management and professional group, and 15 per cent in the administrators’ group.
Besides doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, and medical assistants, Critical Service schemes include other professionals like architects; engineers; pilots; air traffic controllers; airplane inspectors; researchers; sea officers; legal officers; vocational assistant officers; factory and machine inspectors; show producers; lecturers in medicine and dentistry; as well as university and specifically, UiTM, lecturers in various fields like engineering, law, nursing, architecture, and pharmacy.