Sarawak Covid Claims Unpaid Since May — Sibu Hospital Medical Officer

By CodeBlue | 26 August 2020

When we asked the accounts department, Pengarah, and we even wrote to the state, everyone’s reply was “belum dapat duit”.

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I am a medical officer in one of the general hospitals in Sarawak. 

Over the past four months, the medical officers in all the hospitals in Sarawak have not been receiving our state Covid claims. The state actually promised us RM300 per month for the Covid claim, with an additional RM600 Covid allowance from the federal government.

The federal government’s Covid allowance has been paid in due time. However, we have not received four months’ worth of state claims. From the month of March, all Sarawak medical staff involved in Covid-19 were supposed to receive: RM600 Covid allowance from the federal government and RM300 Covid incentive from the state government.

For the federal Covid allowance, we are asked to fill up forms and send to the accounts department. However, for the state government incentive, we only need to fill in a name list and send that name list to Jabatan Kesihatan Negeri Sarawak (JKNS), who forwards it to the state to bank in our claims.

From March till April, we received our RM300 as planned without any issues. From May onwards, however, they set deadlines when the name list has to be sent to the state, but the money has not been banked in. I have personally checked with a few colleagues from various hospitals in Sarawak, and we have all not received our state claims.

I am writing because the team involved in Covid are the emergency department staff, medical staff and anaesthesiology staff. At this point, not receiving the claims, which totals up to RM1,200 per individual, is a problem as most of the medical officers who were part of the team are contract medical officers.

Since they all got their penempatan recently, when we asked the accounts department, Pengarah, and we even wrote to the state, everyone’s reply was “belum dapat duit”.

I know it feels like just mere hundreds, but when you total it up, it’s RM1,200 per person. At this point, we have a group of medical officers relocated from Sarawak to Semenanjung. Literally just shipping the car across is already RM2,500. How can the government expect these people to fork out money just to settle our relocation? Even worse, the government says we are allowed to claim back all allowances with the clause “atas peruntukan yang diberi”. 

So if at that point, the government has no peruntukan, the whole relocation fee would be borne by the individual. Even worse, since these medical officers are contract medical officers, the accounts department would say, “Doktor contract sahaja, ini semua hanya untuk permanent”.

So when these contract medical officers go to the accounts department and put in their claims, the accounts department would say that…there is really no specific reference. They always say — claims akan dibayar berdasarkan peruntukan. So if no peruntukan, then they can’t pay or it will just take sometimes a year before the relocation claims are settled.

Or they will say — “Doktor contract sahaja, ini semua untuk permanent MO”. Again no reference, but basically to say just because we are contract medical officers, we are not entitled to these relocation claims unlike the permanent medical officers.

All of the above are normal things almost every hospital says to contract medical officers when they relocate. It’s fine that the relocation claims are going to take six months to come in. We all went through that, but there is no reason why the Covid claims, which are supposed to come in monthly, should have any delay. That’s my point actually.  

All I am saying is, if we can’t pay these contract medical officers the claims they are supposed to get, how do we expect them to have sorted out their transfers? Bear in mind the claims put in would take another six months to process before they even see the possibility of the money coming back to them. And in these six months, their pay is lower than during their housemanship because they lose the flexi allowance.

Let’s be frank, the government is already underpaying doctors on the on-call claims with RM8-15/ hour, depending if we were asked to do passive or active calls. This little bit extra of allowance does definitely help us feel the gratitude of the government.

My concern is with the transfer this group of medical officers has to go through, they will need the money to help accommodate their transfer. And if the state can’t pay, the state should have never promised us such.

Overall, I am just saying I understand the government can’t pay them everything one-off. But they should be given what was due to them. The Covid claims are on backlog, and for some of them, even their on-call claims. And this should be settled immediately by the state government of Sarawak.

Note: CodeBlue is publishing this letter anonymously on the writer’s request because civil servants are not allowed to speak to the press without approval from their superiors.

  • This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.
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