KUALA LUMPUR, June 28 — The Malaysian Public Health Physicians’ Association (PPPKAM) today denied proposing to the government to ensure permanent posts for Bumiputera medical graduates.
The medical group said that it is fully aware of the challenges faced by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in offering permanent jobs to medical officers due to limited vacancies in public health care facilities.
“PPPKAM did not propose any suggestions or official paperwork regarding the intake of medical officers to MOH or any other parties, for that matter,” PPPKAM president Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said in a statement today.
Utusan Malaysia quoted Dr Zainal in its paper last June 14 as urging the government to provide permanent postings to contract medical officers to reduce the unemployment rate among the professional workforce, citing Sabah as an example with a lack of doctors in the interiors.
The article, however, did not attribute any specific Bumiputera remarks to him, although Utusan reported the Malaysian Muslim Doctors Organisation (PERDIM) as saying that 60 per cent, or 3,600, of medical graduates are Bumiputera, not all of whom receive permanent posts in service.
Utusan wrote that a review of the recruitment of medical officers at the Ministry of Health (MOH) would enable medical graduates, “especially among the Bumiputera”, to serve permanently and reduce the unemployment rate of professionals, without attributing this remark to either PPPKAM or PERDIM.
Last week, Health Minister Dr Adham Baba warned that opening up permanent positions for government doctors in the MOH exceeding available vacancies could risk audit censure.
Dr Adham Baba’s statement was issued in response to the Utusan Malaysia report quoting PPPKAM and PERDIM. However, the minister’s statement stirred anger among the public and some medical groups, who misinterpreted Dr Adham as supporting pro-Bumiputera policy in medicine, when a sentence in his statement merely explained the purported proposal by PPPKAM and PERDIM.
“The statement in the first paragraph is not the position of MOH, but is an excerpt of the essence and comments made by PPPKAM and PERDIM based on the article that was published,” MOH chief secretary Mohd Shafiq Abdullah said in a subsequent statement, appending the Utusan article headlined: “Teliti semula urusan pengambilan pegawai perubatan” (Review the recruitment of medical officers).
The Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia (MPCAM) said that although MOH’s statement has been misinterpreted, the ministry shouldn’t have considered the proposal purportedly given by the medical groups.
“It is disheartening when we are fighting for all doctors, there are some who are fighting for sections of doctors and not the profession in toto. This is an unhealthy precedent in the Health sector,” MPCAM president Dr Raj Kumar Maharajah mentioned in a statement.
MOH’s response to PPPKAM and PERDIM stated that the ministry was looking into their suggestion, using the term “meneliti”, caused further confusion on the ministry’s stand on racial hiring policies in health care.
On June 26, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) released a statement titled “Health care is colour blind”, rejecting the idea of prioritising medical graduates for permanent posting based on race or religious aspects.
“All doctors are trained to treat every patient equally, no matter their race, religion, creed, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and as such, we expect MOH to do so in the treatment of its staff as well,” MMA president Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said.