‘Thank you to our frontliners for your dedications and sacrifices in the battle against Covid-19. You’re already part of history as Malaysian Heroes and Heroines”.
Such a statement appears in all types of media, television, newspapers, banners etc. Addressed not just by the general public, but also by both non-governmental and governmental bodies, and even by ministers and the prime minister.
But little does the public know that these young government doctors who are the key frontliners, are being treated by their employer similar to the PPE (personal protective equipment) that they wear. Come to a time when their service is considered by their user, not to be needed anymore, they shall be stripped off, disposed off, and be replaced with fresh ones.
The same applies to their associates, the young pharmacists and dentists. Ironically, such treatment does not apply to other disciplines in other ministries in the public service department. It apparently occurs to this group of young professionals.
This scenario is expounded by Ashswita Ravindran, 12 October, 2020, in her article: Sabah Pushed To The Brink In Covid-19 Fight.
Despite the acute shortage of doctors, long waiting times for a simple outpatient appointment, longer waiting times for non-emergency surgery, these young doctors are not guaranteed a permanent position in the public sector, something that our simple logic cannot comprehend but every rakyat who has waited hours to see a doctor truly understands.
Unlike their superiors, these young doctors are only awarded contract posts similar to that of foreign doctors.
If not because of Covid-19, these young doctors may not have their contract renewed.
Perhaps this will happen once the pandemic is over. They are at the mercy of their employers, the Public Service Department. In mental gymnastics, they proclaim supply exceeds demand, which again every rakyat waiting in line cannot accept.
This is the reward our sweating, exposed, tired young medics get. Indeed “Anda wira kami” sounds truly hollow in their situation. Such a great reward from those who overtly expressed gratitude for their sacrifices. And this shameful act shall one day backfire on us, because one day, when we acutely need them again, they will no longer be there to serve us. Not to mention the loss of talent and opportunity for skills and expertise.
I beg and I plea to all fellow Malaysians to come together and urge policymakers, especially the Public Services Department (JPA), to give due respect to this matter so that all these young doctors will get opportunity for a permanent employment that they deserve, and guaranteed opportunity for career development.
These are our young doctors who will tomorrow be our specialists and consultants to care for the sick and needy rakyat.
Dr Saadiah Sulaiman is a dermatologist at Klinik Pakar Kulit dan Alahan Annur, Bangi.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.