Health Care Should Be Colour Blind: DAP MP

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii says the proposal to open UiTM’s cardiothoracic surgery postgrad to non-Bumi was meant to tackle a “severe” cardiothoracic surgeon shortage, not to challenge constitutional rights, adding health care shouldn’t be racialised.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 — Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii has defended a proposal to open admissions to Universiti Teknologi MARA’s (UiTM) cardiothoracic surgery postgraduate programme to non-Bumiputera students.

The DAP lawmaker said the proposal was intended to tackle a severe shortage of cardiothoracic surgeons in Malaysia, rather than to challenge the special position of Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak or their constitutional rights.

“First and foremost, I strongly believe that when it comes to health care and ensuring provision of adequate and quality care to patients, this should not be politicised nor looked at from a racial lens,” Dr Yii said in a statement yesterday.

“What is most important is to ensure that the issue at hand is properly diagnosed and treated for the good of the country.”

UiTM’s Student Representative Council (MPP) claimed success for its campaign for students to dress in black yesterday as a sign of protest against the proposal to open up the cardiothoracic surgery postgraduate programme by a collaboration between UiTM and the National Heart Institute (IJN) to non-Bumiputera.

Dr Yii said Malaysia needs one cardiothoracic surgeon to 500,000 people in 2025, and one to 450,000 in 2030. But based on the current rate, the country has less than 15 per cent of the total cardiothoracic surgeons needed by 2030.

“That is why the lack of cardiothoracic specialist doctors is now at a very worrying stage. This problem has affected the country’s health care system and quality of service to patients and may get more serious if not properly addressed,” said the National DAPSY chief.

“Many have to wait six months to a year to get heart surgery. Worse, some even died while awaiting treatment.”

He said the national discourse should instead focus on maximising the capacity of all local higher education institutions, as well as to incorporate parallel pathway programmes with overseas royal colleges, to produce specialist doctors.

Higher Education Minister Zambry Abdul Kadir reiterated in a statement last Wednesday that the Ministry of Higher Education and the Cabinet have never discussed opening UiTM to non-Bumiputera students.

UiTM vice chancellor Prof Shahrin Sahib similarly said the university senate and university executive meeting have never discussed opening UiTM admissions to non-Bumiputera, and that the current admission policy remains.

The proposal to open up the UiTM-IJN cardiothoracic surgery postgraduate programme to non-Bumiputera was made by Prof Dr Raja Amin Raja Mokhtar, a senior consultant cardiothoracic surgeon in UiTM’s Faculty of Medicine, in an interview with CodeBlue.

Although his proposal triggered opposition from UiTM’s student body and many Malay nationalist groups, there was also a surprising wave of support from both Malays and non-Malays, who believe that health care and medicine should not be subject to racial policy.

Others cited the injustice in UiTM admitting international students for postgraduate study while keeping the university closed to non-Bumiputera Malaysians.

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