KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 23 — All government medical officers in Sarawak who lost their jobs when their contracts ended have received contract extensions after the DAP intervened.
Chong Chieng Jen, Sarawak DAP chairman and Pakatan Harapan (PH) Sarawak chairman, announced today that he had raised the matter with party secretary-general and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, who subsequently had a discussion with Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad.
“The Ministry of Health today made the decision to extend the contracts of all the affected medical officers,” Chong said in a statement.
When contacted for clarification, Chong told CodeBlue that it wasn’t just the two Sibu Hospital senior doctors — Dr Wong Woan Hui and Dr Bong Ing Hui — who received contract extensions, but “all those affected”.
The Stampin MP said he wasn’t sure how many government doctors received contract renewals, or how long the new contracts were, as he referred CodeBlue to the Ministry of Health (MOH) for details.
“All the affected ones resolved. We give them peace of mind for Chinese New Year,” Chong told CodeBlue.
Chong, who is also the domestic trade and consumer affairs deputy minister, slammed Sarawak state minister Dr Sim Kui Hian in his press statement.
“Had the state minister overseeing the Ministry of Health Dr Sim Kui Hian been more vigilant on his job at hand, the medical officers would have had their contracts extended before the expiry thereof and not be put through all the anxiety and uncertainty.
“The Pakatan Harapan government takes the issues of the people seriously and will do our level best to resolve issues concerning the people as promptly as possible,” said Chong.
The federal government is under PH, while Sarawak is governed by Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS). Health, however, is under federal jurisdiction, including human resource matters under MOH.
Sibu Hospital medical officers Dr Wong and Dr Bong previously said they scored 89 per cent and 88 per cent in their SKT (Sasaran Kerja Tahunan) performance evaluation systems respectively.
Both young women had also passed part of their postgraduate courses in obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G) and paediatrics respectively, but are unable to continue their specialist training without working in a public hospital for another two years.
GPS coalition party SUPP highlighted their plight over the weekend when they — along with two other contract medical officers from Johor and Pahang — were informed by MOH last November that their contracts would not be renewed, after completing their two-year compulsory service with the government since 2017.
When Dr Wong was asked if MOH has called her about her contract extension, she told CodeBlue: “I wasn’t informed about this.”
Update at 9.30pm:
Dudong SUPP branch chairman Wong Ching Yong said in an immediate response that one possible solution moving forward was to abolish permanent posts for medical officers and put all junior doctors on contract, like in UK and Australia.
He suggested four-year rotation posts for medical officers who pass part of their postgraduate course, such as two years as a paediatric medical officer in Sarikei and two years in Sibu.
“Has the Director General of Health briefed the Minister fully on the seriousness of the hundreds and thousands of MOs (medical officers) who will be unemployed if their contracts are not renewed?
“Have the civil servants in the Ministry of Health withheld any pertinent information from the Minister? Some heads in the Ministry of Health must roll!” Ching Yong said in a statement.
He also called for Sarawak to regain autonomy in health policies, noting that the state lacks doctors in rural areas as West Malaysians are not willing to serve in such places.
“YB Chong must fulfill his election promises that the autonomy of the Sarawak health administration be given back to Sarawak.”