Of HDK: Letter To Contract Doctors And The Government — Dr Timothy Cheng

There must be equal rights for all doctors, regardless of whether they are on contract or permanent status.

HDK has been taken to mean Hartal Doktor Kontrak, but to me it means “Hak Doktor Kontrak”. Allow me to elaborate.

The issue is simple yet complex. The underlying cause for the contract doctor issue is unequal rights.

A simple cause, yet a seemingly complex and slow solution, giving rise to the past few months (and years) of heartache and frustration for many.

What are these rights? The right to equal salary and benefits, the right to postgraduate training, the right to a secure and certain future, and the right to equal treatment by the administration and colleagues.

If the government can solve this issue, the contract system can, and will be beneficial. If the issues are not solved, even increasing the number of permanent posts will not help the situation.

Imagine if half the contract doctors get permanent positions, and the other half remain as contract doctors with the current unequal benefits. How does that benefit us?

Here’s some advice for the current contract doctors:

1. Equip yourself — While we all have our methods of protesting and fighting for these rights, make sure you are not left behind in the journey of self-improvement, and ultimately, specialisation.

The government has stated clearly that postgraduate training will be available to all doctors. The details are still not clear, and the process is indeed slow-moving and messy, but unfortunately, this is the reality of government service, and will need a major revamp (and years perhaps) to change. Take the professional papers. Attend interviews. Read books. Prepare your CV so as to stand out from the rest.

2. Exit the Ministry of Health (MOH) if you wish to. but please return. The system may have failed you, but after completing training in other countries, do come back to change the situation. Many of you who have left are more than capable of replacing the leaders who have failed you. Don’t give up on Malaysia

To the Malaysian government:

Kudos to the new health minister, Khairy Jamaluddin, for being proactive in handling issues surrounding contract doctors (and other health care system problems). We urge you to look into the inequalities among doctors.

Being paid differently, having less benefits, uncertain postgraduate training, and many other aspects of contract employment have resulted in this split among doctors.

Some states even have official name tags that bear the word “contract” after “Pegawai Perubatan Siswazah”.

We wish to see “hak sama rata” for all doctors, regardless of whether they are on contract or permanent status. Let us solve this issue together for the betterment of the country we love and serve.

Dr Timothy Cheng is a junior orthopaedic surgeon who believes in equal rights for all, and thinks that we need to work together to fix the system.

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

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