Independent Audit Of MMC’s Administration Needed

Dr Milton Lum wants an independent audit of MMC’s administration; MMC hasn’t addressed a claim that some MMC members didn’t have an APC. “When even one MMC member has no APC, it raises the question of whether MMC was properly constituted under the Act.”

The Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) is a corporate body established under the Medical Act 1971 (Amended 2012) with two functions i.e. to register medical practitioners and to regulate the practice of Medicine.

The Medical Register comprises three sections, i.e. Provisional, Full, and Specialist. The regulation of the practice of Medicine involves regulation of the professional conduct and ethics of registered medical practitioners (RMP).

The MMC exercises its disciplinary jurisdiction under the Medical Act when there is proven contravention of the MMC’s Code of Professional Conduct, its guidelines, and directives.

The MMC has been mired in controversy in the past few months. This raises serious fundamental questions about the MMC’s administration.

MMC Membership

All MMC members have to be Malaysians and to hold a current practising certificate which is issued annually (“APC”). This is stated clearly in Section 3A(2) of the Act i.e. “No person shall be appointed to be a member under paragraph (1)(b), (c) or (d) or elected as a member under paragraph (1)(e), (f) or (g) unless the person is a citizen of Malaysia and holds a current and valid practising certificate.” (emphasis added)

An allegation was made in a news portal, on June 20, 2024, that some MMC members did not have an APC, following a search of the MMC’s Medical Register Information and Technical System (MeRITS).

It was pointed out on June 21, 2024 that the MMC had updated the APCs of its members with one exception.

There has been, to date (July 1, 2024), no response from the MMC to the substance of the allegation made.

It could be inferred from the MMC’s deafening silence that there were possible grains of truth to the serious allegation that some of its members had no APCs at that time.

Corporate practice requires every decision maker to have locus standi.

When even one MMC member has no APC, it raises the question of whether the MMC was properly constituted under the Act. This raises the question of the validity of MMC’s decisions made when someone present had no APC.

Other fundamental questions that have to be addressed include:

  • When did the contravention of Section 3A(2) occur?
  • Has the contravention been rectified and, if so, when?
  • What is the legal status of the RMPs involved vis-a-vis their membership of MMC?
  • What decisions were made by MMC when some of its “members” had no APC?
  • What steps have been taken to rectify the mess?

It is the individual responsibility of a RMP to apply for an APC. However, the question arises as to whether the MMC administration informed the MMC of the APC status of its members, as it is only the administration that has access to the MeRITS.

Who is responsible for this fiasco? The MMC, its administration, or both?

Specialist Registration: Two Pathways Reduced to One

Until July 2022, there were two pathways for applications to the MMC’s National Specialist Register (NSR):

  • Specialists with qualifications in the MMC’s NSR list.
  • Those whose qualifications were not in the MMC NSR list were considered on an individual basis.

The MMC updated its NSR Registration Procedures and Guidelines, on November 21, 2023, in which the pathway for doctors whose qualifications were not in the MMC’s NSR list was removed.

The MMC did not notify the medical profession of these changes to its NSR Registration Procedures and Guidelines. This was contrary to previous MMC practice.

It was previous MMC practice to ensure that any changes were prospective and not retrospective; and that the implementation date of any changes was announced way in advance. This was to ensure that no doctor got penalised for any changes that were not of their making.

The MMC has still not addressed the question of whether all applications to the NSR were considered by its Specialist Sub Committees (“SSCs”), Evaluation Committee and MMC, in accordance with MMC’s publicly stated processes; and if not, what were the reasons for non-consideration and rejection at each stage of the process. What were the number of applications that were not considered or rejected?

The statement by the Health Minister, in reply to a parliamentary question, that there were more than 100 applications to the NSR from doctors who have completed their specialist training that have yet to be decided on speaks for itself.

The MMC’s failure, in this respect. has contributed to junior doctors’ anxiety, disappointment, confusion, exasperation and burnout, which would have definite impact on patient safety and quality of care.

Chief Executive Officer

A chief executive officer (CEO) of any organisation is responsible for its efficiency and effectiveness to ensure the achievement of outcomes related to the organization’s mission.

The MMC’s CEO is appointed by the president after consulting the MMC. The duties and responsibilities of the CEO are spelt out in Section 4C of the Act. The MMC has to comply with the Public Services Department (PSD) guidelines for staff appointments in statutory bodies, including that of CEO.

The MMC has held at least two interviews for CEO in 2023. What happened? Were the applicants unsuitable? What factors were considered by the interview panel? Did they include qualifications, experience, gender, or were there other factors?

The MMC has been without a CEO for more than a year. The current acting CEO was only fully registered with MMC in August 2014.

Why has the MMC still not got a CEO? Who is responsible for this situation: MMC, its president, or both?

Independent Audit Of MMC’s Administration Needed

The medical profession has a legitimate expectation that MMC will adhere to best practices i.e. integrity, collaboration, fairness, transparency, and consistency in decision-making and administration.

After all, the MMC’s motto is “Safeguarding patients and guiding doctors”. Its mission is “The principal aim of the MMC is to ensure the highest standards of medical ethics, education and practice, in the interest of patients, public and the profession through the fair and effective administration of the Medical Act”.

The MMC, as a regulator, has a duty to follow the rules be they the Act; its Regulations; its guidelines; guidelines of the Public Services Department and the Finance Ministry for statutory bodies; and good corporate practice.

When a regulator does not follow the rules, both written and unwritten, it loses its credibility and finally, its authority.

An uncomplimentary question about the MMC has been raised, i.e. whether it has gone rogue. Is the MMC’s current quagmire due to weak administration? Or the MMC itself?

Irrespective of what it is, an independent audit of the MMC’s administration is necessary to ensure its credibility does not deteriorate further.

Dr Milton Lum was an elected member of the MMC from August 1995 to July 2022. He is a Past President of the Federation of Private Medical Associations, Malaysia and the Malaysian Medical Association. The views expressed do not represent that of any organisation the writer is or was associated with. No responsibility is assumed by the writer for any injury and/or damage to persons or property in respect of anything or the consequences of anything done or omitted to be done by any such person in reliance, whether wholly or partial, upon the whole or any part of the contents of this article. If legal advice is required, the services of a legal counsel versed in law should be sought.

  • This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.

You may also like