First Contract Doctor Terminations Hit Sarawak

SUPP claims the government is prioritising West Malaysia in permanent positions for medical and dental officers.

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) did not renew the contracts of four medical officers (MOs) in Sarawak, marking Malaysia’s first terminations of young doctors in the public sector.

SUPP’s education bureau said two Sibu General Hospital doctors — Dr Wong Woan Hui, an MO with the obstetrics & gynaecology (O&G) department, and Dr Bong Ing Hui, an MO with the paediatric department — received a letter from MOH last November 19 that their contracts would not be renewed, after working for two years as contract MOs on a UD41 civil service grade. Dr Wong and Dr Bong are 28 and 29 years old respectively.

The Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) coalition party did not name the other two doctors whose contracts were allegedly not renewed. No reason was given in their letters of termination.

“There are four doctors whose contracts are terminated. They are now left in a limbo,” Meradong assemblyman Ding Kuong Hiing said in a statement today.

He noted that the four doctors have passed their Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (MRCOG) part 1 and Membership of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom (MRCP) (Paediatric) part 1 papers respectively. But without working in an approved hospital for at least four years, they can’t sit for their final papers to become specialists.

Ding alleged that SUPP education bureau was informed that only 25 per cent of medical and dental officers would get permanent posts in the civil service.

He also claimed that the government was prioritising West Malaysia in granting permanent posts to medical and dental officers, noting that 73 MOs in Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Klang were given permanent positions.

Ding noted that Dr Wong and Dr Bong made up to almost RM8,000 a year less than their permanent counterparts on a higher UD44 grade, excluding the yearly increment. MOs also do not get an RM600 monthly flexi allowance granted to their junior house officers.

“All medical officers who wish to become specialists have legitimate expectations that the Ministry of Health would allow them to work in government hospitals for a period of say, seven years, like in the UK so that they can have the requisite trainings.

“The decision of the government not to renew contracts for medical officers who are doing post graduate studies is a travesty of justice,” Ding said.

The SUPP assemblyman also pointed out that Sibu General Hospital had written to MOH last November 22 that the O&G and paediatric departments were understaffed.

“We demand that the Ministry of Health publicly disclose the criteria of giving permanent posts to those medical and dental officers.”

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad told Parliament last November that the government would give permanent positions to the “best talents”.

He also said doctors who don’t make the cut after serving their mandatory two-year service with the government can seek employment in the private sector, like in pharmaceutical companies or medical labs, as vacancies in the public sector are limited amid a glut of medical graduates.

Private hospitals mostly employ specialists.

Update at 6.45pm

A purported November 6, 2019, letter from MOH’s Human Resources Division sighted by CodeBlue listed two other contract MOs, besides Dr Wong and Dr Bong, whose contracts were not renewed after their appointments in 2017 — a 30-year-old doctor from Hospital Sultanah Nora Ismail in Batu Pahat, Johor, and a 32-year-old doctor from Hospital Tengku Ampuan Afzan in Kuantan, Pahang.

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