We find these criticisms levelled against us as very unfair, as the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has been actively addressing the issue of bullying among health care workers for many years.
It is clear that both the Hartal Doktor Kontrak group and the Penang Deputy Chief Minister (II) had not read MMA’s full press statement issued yesterday, nor did they witness our press conference held yesterday.
The comments they made seem to be based on a few media reports they read, and not our full press statement.
The MMA reiterates its stand that it does not condone any form of bullying. Period.
What we are saying is that it is time that bullying be properly defined, so as to be able to identify genuine cases of bullying to allow appropriate action to be taken on the perpetrators.
All cases of bullying needs to be reported for action to be taken. Though there have been much that has been mentioned on social media, only a handful has actually been reported.
This does not mean that there are only a few cases. It may only be the tip of the iceberg, and is indeed cause for worry and concern. Those affected by bullying must also not remain silent.
Understanding that there is a reluctance to report through the normal channels, MMA set up its own helpline called HelpDoc in 2016. So it is unfair to label MMA as not being aware of the current situation. In fact, MMA had the foresight to initiate appropriate action on this.
MMA has never played down the issue of bullying, hence the call was made to end the culture of fear within the Ministry of Health.
However, we wish to once again state that medical practice is a high-stress profession involving patients who may be in life-and-death situations.
The stressors at work involve everyone on the team, both from the consultants down to the house officers. Teamwork is essential in the provision of health care.
Dr Koh Kar Chai is president of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
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