KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 19 — A Sarawakian doctor declined a job offer from the United Kingdom after getting her paediatric degree there because she wanted to serve her home country.
But Dr Bong Ing Hui, a 29-year-old UD41 grade contract medical officer (MO) working at Sibu General Hospital’s paediatric department, did not get a permanent position or her contract renewed last November after she served her mandatory two-year service with the government since 2017. She had even received lower pay than her permanent counterparts on a higher UD44 grade.
“I was offered a seven-year job in the UK but let it go as I wanted to serve my country,” Dr Bong was quoted telling a press conference in Sibu yesterday organised by SUPP, according to The Star.
“It was a shock because they did not give us any indication that our contracts will be terminated. There was even no grace period given to us. They just sent us a letter saying that our contracts had been terminated,” she added.
A 28-year-old Sarawakian female doctor — Dr Wong Woan Hui, a contract MO working at Sibu General Hospital’s obstetrics & gynaecology (O&G) department — also did not get her contract renewed last November after completing her compulsory two-year government service since 2017.
Although both Dr Wong and Dr Bong 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, they can’t complete their training to become specialists unless they have worked in a government hospital for at least four years. They have applied for locum work at private medical centres pending their appeal to the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said MOH told him that both Dr Wong and Dr Bong did their housemanship overseas and returned home as medical officers, who were then offered a two-year contract for their compulsory government service.
“So this contract and their compulsory service has finished,” Dr Yii wrote yesterday.
“This issue has been going on before and NOT a case of discrimination to ‘Sarawakians’ as some quarters seem to be playing up. The other two affected are from Semenanjung Malaysia.”
Dr Yii, a doctor by training, urged MOH to explain the selection process and criteria for medical officers’ permanent positions in the public sector.
“That will give clarity and transparency so that young doctors know what to work for such permanent post.
“I do also urge Ministry to give priority for the doctors that are willing to serve in places in lack, district hospitals, clinics especially those in the rural areas,” the DAP lawmaker said.
SUPP’s education bureau alleged yesterday that only 25 per cent of medical and dental officers would get permanent posts in the civil service.
Meradong assemblyman Ding Kuong Hiing also claimed that the government was prioritising West Malaysia in granting permanent posts to medical and dental officers.
Besides the two Sarawakian doctors, two contract MOs from Hospital Sultanah Nora Ismail in Batu Pahat, Johor, and Hospital Tengku Ampuan Afzan in Kuantan, Pahang, also did not get their contracts renewed after their 2017 appointments, according to a November 6, 2019, letter from MOH’s Human Resources DIvision.
Late last year, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad told doctors to seek employment in the private sector, like in pharmaceutical companies or medical labs, if they fail to obtain permanent positions in the civil service due to a lack of vacancies. However, these young people will likely struggle in finding jobs as doctors because private hospitals mostly employ specialists.