KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 14 — Opposition leader Hamzah Zainudin has urged Prime Minister (PM) Anwar Ibrahim’s coalition government to find an immediate solution to address issues raised by Hartal Doktor Kontrak (HDK).
The Larut MP, in his debate on the motion of thanks on the royal address today, referred to an “ultimatum” by HDK to the coalition government, urging the current federal administration to “walk the talk” now that they are in power.
“Although the Covid-19 pandemic happened during the reign of Pagoh (Muhyiddin Yassin) and Bera (Ismail Sabri), due to their stewardship, our economy was able to successfully record a very positive growth.
“Now, we hear all sorts [of complaints]. I recently heard that Hartal Doctor Kontrak has already given an ultimatum to this coalition government. When in fact, before the 15th general elections (GE15), Pakatan Harapan (PH) tried to be a hero, but now that they are the government, nothing is done.
“The Minister for [Economy], Pandan, as an example. YB Pandan (Rafizi Ramli). He had all sorts of formulas before being in government. He said all sorts of things all over the country.
“Formula one, formula two, three.
“Today, on the chicken problem, his formula is simple: Don’t eat chicken.
“That is just one formula. Maybe, there will be many more formulas that will be tabled by YB Pandan.
“I want to tell you: Please walk the talk. Find a solution immediately. Don’t allow this issue to affect the system in our country and can cause the people to suffer,” Hamzah said.
It is unclear what “ultimatum” Hamzah is referring to.
HDK spokesperson Dr Mustapha Kamal told CodeBlue when contacted yesterday that the group is not planning a strike anytime soon despite rumours of an “unannounced” health care workers’ strike.
Dr Mustapha said should HDK organise one, it will be announced ahead of time as was done in July last year. Another HDK spokesperson, who requested anonymity, told CodeBlue that an early announcement will prevent “unnecessary issues” to the public health service.
HDK, which had organised a one-day strike in 2021, issued a fresh call two weeks ago for government doctors to join their movement although it did not specify if they are planning to organise another strike.
CodeBlue carried out a survey among 1,652 government doctors, pharmacists, dentists, nurses, and other allied health care workers earlier this month that showed more than half (867 people) are willing to go on strike if one is organised. Another 34 per cent were uncertain about participating in industrial action, while only 14 per cent opposed walkouts.
CodeBlue’s poll among predominantly MOH workers revealed widespread anger and frustration in the government health service, including among senior doctors and permanent staff, with 95 per cent agreeing that the public health care system is in crisis.
In the contract staff subset of CodeBlue’s poll for government health care workers, 63 per cent (540 people), mostly doctors, want to go on strike. Another 32 per cent are uncertain. Overall, 95 per cent of contract health care workers are willing or unsure about striking, with 83 per cent wanting to quit their jobs.
In a July 2021 TikTok video posted by Dr Zaliha Mustafa, before she was appointed health minister in PM Anwar Ibrahim’s administration last month, the PKR politician defended then-Pandan MP Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail when the latter raised the plight of contract doctors in Parliament after their one-day strike.
When asked if MPs should support a strike for health care workers, HDK’s Dr Mustapha said it was completely up to each parliamentarian.
“If they say they care so much about the people and the country, they must know that most health care workers [are at the] frontlines, leaving behind personal issues, loved ones and mental health while trying to keep everyone safe in the hospital or health care facility. But instead, we are treated like s**t after Covid [ends].”