I am a UD43, one of the many contract medical officers who were offered permanent posts recently. I am writing to you to share my experiences with KKM (Ministry of Health).
I am the only child in my family and also a Melaka Manipal Medical College (currently known as MUCM) graduate.
After spending almost more than half a million ringgit on my studies (fees, accommodation, flight tickets), which were entirely sponsored by my parents and five years, on and off. of being away from home, I finally graduated at the age of 24.
After a six-month wait (earliest at that time) post-graduation, my name was shortlisted under the two-year internship programme. For the recruitment training, we were asked to pick our preferred facility using the e-Houseman system.
At that point, I decided to stay close to home with my parents, so I chose to undergo my training at Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC).
After a year had passed by, I lost my father to a sudden heart attack. With much grief and struggle, I aimed to complete my housemanship training programme within the given time frame. I was grateful enough when everything went well during the second year.
Even though I took an extra five days’ leave for my father’s funeral and to take care of my mother, my then-OBG (obstetrics & gynaecology) head of department at UMMC strictly asked me to replace those days, as house officers are not eligible for cuti tanpa rekod (CTR).
Upon completion of my internship, my fiancé and I registered our civil marriage, and my offer letter to Sarawak arrived just as soon as this happy event happened.
It was during the pandemic season, wherein a bunch of almost 90 house officers from my batch in UMMC were sent to East Malaysia, scattered all over Sabah and Sarawak, for our medical officer training.
My name was listed under the Sarawak state health department (JKNS) in general, and I did not know where exactly I would be posted.
Despite much correspondence and multiple visits to the Human Resource Division (BSM) in KKM Putrajaya — using the reasons of my recently deceased father and taking care of my single mother — my mails were not answered, and no officer was willing to meet me in person.
Every time I went there, they gave me all sorts of excuses (pegawai ada meeting, pegawai cuti sakit, pegawai keluar pejabat, etc). Left with no choice, I had to leave for Sarawak with a heavy heart, leaving my widowed mother and new husband behind.
I had to report to JKNS, which was in Kuching, and then fly to wherever I was posted. I was offered a place at Klinik Kesihatan Bintulu (bear in mind that the change from a hospital setting to a clinic setting was random).
At the end of the same year, we conducted our wedding religious ceremony, and after a short holiday, I flew back to Sarawak for my duties. My husband and I were flying back and forth once every two or three months to visit each other.
A few months later, I became pregnant with our first child. I tried appealing when I was about five months’ pregnant (considering the fact that I had served in Sarawak for almost a year), but my appeal via HRMIS was rejected with the reason being two years of service is mandatory.
I did not give up this time. I met Tiong King Sing, the Member of Parliament for Bintulu, and submitted all the relevant documents and asked him to provide a support letter to KKM.
Within a month, my transfer was approved, and I was able to return to the peninsula for delivery and maternity leave. I was 35 weeks’ pregnant when I flew back from there.
Recently, I was offered a permanent post; this time, the selection was again via the e-Houseman system. Much to my chagrin, the choices around Kuala Lumpur and Selangor were generally limited; within two-and-a-half minutes of logging in, the system lagged, and when refreshed, KL and Selangor were out of the list.
Again, looking at the list of available health clinic facilities, most of the choices given were in Sabah and Sarawak. I had no choice but to secure one, afraid that I might be sent to an even more rural area.
Compared to the options listed at that time, I was left with klinik kesihatan in Sabah and Sarawak. Kapit felt like a fairer choice, given that the clinic is located a few minutes away from the airport.
But then again, we will only know the actual placement once we report for duty, so it doesn’t really mean that I’ll be getting the place I picked. It’s down to pure luck.
A week later, all those who wanted to request for a transfer appeal were given a Google Link to send all our information and preferred health care facility, but again nothing happened. Same old KKM tricks.
I have gone through so much with KKM that I’m feeling very frustrated with this giant institution that has no mercy for its employees and is so full of itself.Dr Anna Mae (pseudonym), UD43 medical officer
I know that I can re-appeal, but again, I would have to face the same situation – send multiple mails which will not be entertained by any of their officers or pay a visit to HR, but yet, no one is willing to listen to you.
Hey KKM, is this how you treat your doctors who have sacrificed so much?
Now, I’m in a dilemma whether or not I should accept this offer — the deadline given to us is 31st July (reporting date). If I accept, I’m not sure whether if I request for a transfer, will it be granted? If not, how many more years should I spend in Sarawak?
This is why I’m channelling all my frustrations and dissatisfaction through this letter.
I’m currently pregnant with my second child. My firstborn is still young and tender; he requires care and attention from me as a mother. I’m not willing to leave my family behind to put myself and my loved ones through more agony.
I’m suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum (severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy). Dealing with my firstborn and running house chores has made me restless and exhausted at the end of the day. My husband is also working, even on weekends, while my mother is getting old and frail.
The bottom line is, I have been to Sarawak – done and dusted.Dr Anna Mae (pseudonym), UD43 medical officer
I’m just six months into my current workplace, so why shouldn’t I continue to serve the community in this area? I’m quite settled with my new superiors, colleagues, and working environment, so why should I leave?
Why is the system so flawed that you cannot filter those who have or have not been to East Malaysia?
Why can’t your institution be transparent about the selection criteria or consider transfer requests, especially those who are in need?
Why were the choices of places offered in the system limited?
Is this one of your ways to make us quit for non-specific reasons? After spending so much money and time, and losing your loved ones, is it fair to end up as nothing in this field?
Do you know how many future specialists you will be missing out?
Please try to understand that most of us at this age are pretty much settled and have commitments in life. Kids, family, housing, loans, etc.
We are asking for a holistic approach to all the ruckus that the transfer exercise has been creating. Be a part of the solution.
Of course, this is just one of the many unjust aspects of KKM that I’m touching on.
Dr Anna Mae (pseudonym) is a medical officer at a public health clinic in Kuala Lumpur. CodeBlue is providing the author anonymity because civil servants are prohibited from writing to the press.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.