Court Delays USM Medical Genetics Pathology Graduates’ Hearing Pending Medical Act Amendments

The High Court today delayed the hearing of six USM medical genetics pathology graduates’ lawsuit against MMC for refusing their NSR registration applications, agreeing with MMC’s request for postponement pending tabling of a Medical Act amendment bill.

KUALA LUMPUR, June 20 – The High Court today postponed a hearing for Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) medical genetics pathology graduates who are suing the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) for rejecting their applications to be registered as specialists under the National Specialist Register (NSR), pending the tabling of an amendment to the Medical Act.

Today’s scheduled hearing was converted into a case management session after the MMC requested an adjournment.

“Last week, the Ministry of Health (MOH) held a stakeholder consultation on proposed amendments to the Medical Act. One issue in this case, professional recognition of qualifications, may be resolved by these amendments,” MMC legal counsel Jessica Ram Binwani from Kanesh Sundrum & Co. told CodeBlue.

“My instructions were to hold off on the hearing until we see the amendments and their potential impact. If the amendment resolves these issues, it would be futile for the court to rule on the matter,” she added.

Jessica said she has not seen the draft bill but noted, “The intention is to resolve outstanding issues, so we’ll have to wait and see.”

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s Cabinet has yet to announce approval of the draft Medical Act amendment bill. A Cabinet meeting is scheduled today. 

In Malaysian lawmaking, the general public has no access to the text of any draft bill until it is tabled formally in the Dewan Rakyat for first reading. Bills are usually passed very quickly in a matter of days after first reading. 

Unlike bills under other ministries when ministers normally give an outline of proposed provisions, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad has yet to specify the proposed amendments to the Medical Act and how these are meant to “regularise” medical specialty training, whether the parallel pathway or local universities’ postgraduate programmes.

The Dewan Rakyat is scheduled to meet from June 24 to July 18, with the Senate to follow from July 22 to August 1.

During today’s session, Justice Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid questioned the absence of the draft bill. “The blue bill should already be out two weeks before the sitting. The ministry should at least have the draft bill,” he said.

Jessica said the process is rushed, and the bill is likely embargoed until Parliament convenes.

Lambert Rasa-Ratnam, lead counsel for the applicants from Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill (LHAG), said based on what the MMC has conveyed, there are moves afoot to amend the Medical Act, potentially resolving the issue. 

“The operative word is ‘may’ because neither Jessica nor we have seen the bill. Once the bill is presented in Parliament, it will become clearer where we stand,” Lambert told CodeBlue.

The High Court has set August 19 for case management and January 20, 2025, for the next hearing.

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