Bipartisan Group Demands Permanent Posts For Junior Doctors

Doctors in Sarawak and Sabah continue to be unfairly treated in the allocation of permanent posts, says the Malaysian Junior Doctors 2020.

KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — Sarawak’s SUPP has formed an apolitical group to advocate permanent posts for junior government doctors, after 79 medical officers received six-month contract renewals this year.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, 222 MPs, and the Health director-general, the Malaysian Junior Doctors 2020 (MJD2020) group claimed the non-implementation of “Borneonization”, as per the Malaysia Agreement 1963, in the area of health care, as doctors in Sabah and Sarawak allegedly continue to be unfairly treated in the the allocation of permanent posts in their respective states.

“To the best of our knowledge, many Sarawakian MOs (medical officers) are not offered permanent posts three times in 2020, when as early as January 2020, there were 100 permanent posts given to Sarawak hospitals, but less than 10 per cent were MOs who are Sarawakians.

“Of the 100 permanent posts, 28 rejected and two resigned. The 30 permanent posts were quickly given to other MOs from other states. MOs from West Malaysia will not serve Sarawak for long because Sarawak is not their home,” MJD2020 protem chairman Ding Kuong Hiing and protem secretary Wong Ching Yong said in their open letter.

Ding is also Meradong assemblyman in Sarawak.

MJD2020 comprises Sarawak Local Government and Housing Minister Dr Sim Kui Hian and former Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye from PKR among its medical advisors. The group’s legal advisors include prominent human rights lawyer Ambiga Sreenevasan and Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen.

Ding and Wong further emphasised that priority must be given to Sabah and Sarawak MOs for permanent posts in Sabah and Sarawak, as “the unfair treatment of MOs from Sabah and Sarawak is against the Borneonisation as promised in Malaysia Agreement 1963,” urging Sabah and Sarawak MPs to voice this unfairness in Parliament sittings.

Ding and Wong also highlighted a particular policy from MOH’s Bahagian Perkembangan Prubatan (BPP) as “unfair, illogical, and weird”.

“Permanent posts are offered to MOs who have not completed their MO training on the ground that they did their housemanship locally.

“You are the 79 MOs (at least four are MOs from Sarawak) who did your housemanship overseas ie UK or Australia, and have completed the two-year MO contracts in Malaysia. BPP has to explain why you are not being offered contracts just because you did not do your housemanship locally.

“MOH must explain other reasons, if any, as to why the 79 MOs are not given permanent posts. The new Pengarah Dato’ Dr Norhizan bin Ismail should revisit this unfair, illogical and weird policy,” Ding and Wong stressed.

In addition to that, a short clause is included in the six-month contract that prohibits MOs from seeking help, as pointed out in their open letter:

“An officer shall not bring or attempt to bring any form of outside influence or pressure to support or advance a claim relating to public service, whether it is his own claim or the claim of other members of the public service.”

Back in mid-April, the government had extended by six months the contracts of government doctors, pharmacists, and dentists whose service ended late last year or is due for termination this year.

Sarawak’s SUPP had also previously urged the government to renew the contracts of three Sarawakian senior MOs from Sibu Hospital, after they completed their two-year compulsory servie last November and this April.

Ding and Wong, in their open letter, wrote that the Sarawak SUPP strongly supports MOs’ rights to be given permanent posts in government hospitals because they believe that the government owes them the obligation to complete their specialty practice, not to mention that there is already a shortage of specialists in Malaysia.

“Doctors who have partially passed their postgraduate specialist examination must be given the priority for the consideration of permanent posts. The government owes them the obligation.

“If not, these doctors could never become specialists. Almost all of you take up postgraduate courses on your own without any financial assistance from the government,” they explained, pointing out that there are still insufficient specialists in Malaysia, which only numbered to about 7,000 in all.

In addition, an offer of a six-month contract is “not only inappropriate but unkind and insulting as well” in the Sarawak SUPP’s point of view.

“With the outbreak of Covid-19, working in hospitals now is a high risk job. You are risking your young lives to save the lives of others. But very likely, you will be abandoned by the government after the expiration of the six-month contract. This is very cruel.

“There is no bright professional future for you in this country if SPA (Public Service Commission)/ MOH (Ministry of Health) cannot offer permanent posts or contracts of at least 10 years to you,” they wrote, adding that the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has been recommending 10-year contracts, but its recommendation has “fallen onto deaf ears.”

“Adding salt to the wound is that you are earning UD41 as MOs, which is lower than your fellow MOs on permanent posts. Same work, different pay, no career future, it is utterly unfair and cruel of the government for treating you like dirt,” Ding and Wong wrote.

They further pointed out that at least four MOs from Sarawak were denied permanent posts without a reason, even though they have all passed part of postgraduate specialist examinations.

In the event that one wishes to become a general practitioner (GP), which is the first point of contact with patients, working in a government hospital for about five years is considered “inexperienced and raw”.

“(The MOs) will have a difficult time to survive in the market because the patients have no confidence in (them),” they wrote.

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