JPA, MARA Scholarships Don’t Guarantee Permanent Posts For Doctors, Dentists

About 71% of contract medical officers and about 63% of contract dental officers who received permanent posts in the public sector, as of July 31, 2020, were JPA and MARA scholars.

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14 — The government is only obliged under the law to provide medical and dental graduates placements in training and two-year compulsory service, said Dr Adham Baba.

At the Dewan Negara, the health minister cited these obligations under the Medical Act 1971 and the Dental Act 1971 to give medical and dental graduates job experience.

“Considerations for the permanent appointments of contract medical and dental officers are made separately after officers complete their graduate training and/ or compulsory service, subject to officers fulfilling conditions according to their service scheme, their ability to meet set criteria, and taking into account vacancies of permanent positions from time to time.

“Appointments are offered based on ranking in the list of permanent appointments,” said Dr Adham Baba in a written parliamentary reply on September 3 to Senator Rita Sarimah Anak Patrick Insol.

The PRS senator had asked the minister to state the number of contract medical and dental officers who received scholarships from the Public Service Department of Malaysia (JPA) and Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA), but did not receive permanent posts in the Ministry of Health (MOH), and why.

Dr Adham did not state being a recipient of JPA or MARA scholarships as a criterion for doctors or dentists to get permanent positions in MOH, although JPA scholarships tie scholars to 10 years’ service in the government.

He stated that the Public Service Commission of Malaysia (SPA) offered permanent posts to a total of 665 contract medical officers and 477 contract dental officers until July 31 this year.

Of them, 311 medical officers were JPA scholars and 164 received scholarships from MARA, totalling 475 people. A total of 199 dental officers received scholarships from JPA, while 99 were recipients of the MARA scholarship, totalling 298 people.

This indicates that 71.43 per cent of contract medical officers and 62.47 per cent of contract dental officers who received permanent posts, as of last July 31, were government scholars from either JPA or MARA.

Dr Adham, however, did not state how many JPA and MARA scholars working as contract doctors or dentists failed to get permanent appointments in the public sector.

Medical students’ group, Malaysian Medics International (MMI), and Alor Setar MP Chan Ming Kai have previously urged the government to release contract doctors on the JPA scholarship from its 10-year bond, with no monetary compensation for JPA, if the public sector does not extend medical officers’ contracts beyond their two-year compulsory service.

MOH also listed the reasons for not offering permanent positions to contract medical and dental officers, as below:

  • Limited vacancies of permanent positions;
  • Officers do not meet the set requirements and criteria;
  • Not placed in the top ranking of the list of permanent appointments; and
  • Officers in a particular cohort have not been offered permanent appointments as they are still undergoing graduate training or compulsory service.

Dr Adham told the Dewan Negara last September 8 that MOH conducts a transparent and objective evaluation of government doctors, dentists, and pharmacists for permanent appointment selections, claiming that only the “best talents”, based on ranking, are chosen. He did not reveal the criteria for these performance reviews that some doctors have slammed as opaque and biased.

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