New Law Unnecessary, MMC Must Retain Independence: Johor DAP Committee Member

Johor DAP state committee member Dr Boo Cheng Hau dismisses the need for a new law to recognise the parallel pathway, saying MOHE/ MQA cannot interfere with the MMC’s independence under the Medical Act in recognising specialist qualifications in medicine.

KUALA LUMPUR, June 6 — Johor DAP state committee member Dr Boo Cheng Hau today dismissed the need for new legislation to resolve the non-recognition of the parallel pathway for medical specialty training.

Dr Boo, a medical doctor, said the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) and the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) should not interfere with the independence of any professional body, including the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC), the regulator of the country’s medical profession.

“Like other professional bodies such as the Bar Council, Malaysian Institute of Accountants and Malaysian Institute of Architects, the MMC is well empowered to recognise any medical degrees and specialist training programmes under the present law, that is, the Medical Act,” Dr Boo said in a statement.

“The principle of professional independence and self-governance should not be compromised and tampered with by any other non-professional bodies with underlying  political agenda. 

“Any tampering of professional self-governance by the MMC would not only make the standard of our health service go backward, but also make Malaysia less inspiring and appealing for future socio-economic investments and advancements.”

He said that it is not within MQA’s jurisdiction to get involved in the licensing process of medical professionals that is under the jurisdiction of the MMC, “an independent professional body having more expertise than the MQA itself to assess the qualification of any trained doctors and the specialists.”

Dr Boo, who was formerly Johor DAP chief, said that MMC’s jurisdiction, powers, and professional capacity instead are to decide on both local and foreign universities’ basic and specialist medical training programmes’ qualifications and licence to practise.

“The MOHE and MQA do not have the powers to do so and neither should they interfere with it. In addition, both MOHE and MQA should never be empowered to do so as this would jeopardise the independence of any professional bodies’ powers for self-governance.”

Dr Boo said that while the MQA is empowered to lay out the criteria for accrediting the higher education courses in local universities, local universities’ basic medical graduates or specialists’ qualifications for licence to practise are subject to recognition by MMC or any professional bodies created by the law. 

“Like any other professions in the country, including architects, engineers, accountants, and lawyers, they are licensed to practise only after the potential professionals satisfy their respective professional bodies’ specified practical training and assessment examinations, and so should be the same for the medical profession in the future.”

He suggested that MMC set up a Malaysian Medical Graduate Licensure Examination for all basic medical graduates from both local public and private universities and foreign universities to be assessed equally before they can be qualified as medical doctors with the licence to practise and for further postgraduate training.

“The MMC should not cede or even share its professional powers with any other non-medical professional body, including MQA,” Dr Boo said. 

“Nonetheless, within its powers, it could consult or appoint the Academy of Medicine of Malaysia (AMM) and respective specialists’ associations to advise on the recognition of their respective specialists and subspecialists. 

“Rightfully, it is for the MQA to consult MMC on the recognition of respective universities’ basic medical degrees and specialists education training programmes. And there is no necessity for any new law for this aspect.”

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad announced yesterday plans to table a Medical Act amendment bill in the upcoming Parliament meeting to recognise the parallel pathway for registration of graduates as specialist doctors on the National Specialist Register (NSR).

Unlike clinical Master’s programmes by local universities that are already regulated by the MQA – like all other undergraduate or postgraduate programmes beyond medicine – the parallel pathway for medical specialty training was instituted through memorandums of understanding (MoU) between the Ministry of Health (MOH), medical societies under the AMM registered under the Registrar of Societies (RoS), and royal colleges in the United Kingdom.

Government spokesman Fahmi Fadzil told reporters yesterday that the main issue in the parallel pathway was conflicting jurisdictions between the MQA and MMC.

Section 14B of the Medical Act’s 2012 amendment, which came into effect in 2017, states specialised training in a “recognised training institution” as one of the criteria for a person to be entitled to specialist registration under the Act. Another criterion is holding a “recognised specialist qualification”.

Senior lawyer New Sin Yew previously told The Great Parallel Pathway Debate that a “recognised training institution” refers to a higher education provider, as defined under Section 2 of the MQA Act.

The Group of Professors of Health and Medicine has called for comprehensive stakeholder engagements before the tabling of the Medical Act amendment bill in Parliament, accusing the Cabinet of allowing foreign education institutions to conduct activities that threaten national sovereignty.

You may also like