Under fire Health Ministry tries to walk back Adham’s Bumi comments

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The Health Ministry has tried to pour cold water on a row over whether Bumiputera medical graduates will be prioritised for permanent posting by the government, which the ministry puts down to a “misunderstanding”.

Ministry chief secretary Mohd Shafiq Abdullah said an excerpt in a previous statement issued on June 23 by Health Minister Dr Adham Baba was in reference to comments made the Malaysian Public Health Physicians’ Association (PPPKAM) and Malaysian Muslim Doctors Organisation (Perdim) and does not represent the ministry’s position.

“The Ministry of Health would like to clear the confusion and misinterpretation in relation to the first paragraph in the previous statement,” said Shafiq.

In the first paragraph of the statement, Adham had said that the government will take into consideration the views of the two associations to review the process of offering permanent positions to junior doctors who are appointed on a contract basis.

Bernama

The associations proposed that a review of the appointment process is necessary to ensure that medical graduates, especially those in the Bumiputera community, are able to serve the government and reduce unemployment in the medical field.

The statement prompted swift rebukes from DAP and the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) whereby the MMA slammed the proposal for the government to prioritise Bumiputera medical graduates in permanent postings with the ministry.

MMA president Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said racial or religious prejudices should not influence the selection of medical officers or whether they would serve in permanent appointments.

Subramaniam said the country needed the best and brightest individuals to serve the people.

He noted that talent did not distinguish between ethnicity, religion, creed, or gender.

The statement in the first paragraph is a citation of the news article quoting PPPKAM and Perdim, and did not refer to the ministry’s position on the matter, Shafiq said.

He said the ministry had given its explanation on the matter raised by the two associations in the second paragraph onwards.

“It is hoped that this explanation will clear confusion and misinterpretation on the integrity and transparency of the Health Ministry in the appointment of permanent medical officers, which have all along been based on merit during their housemanship,” he said.

Adham said in the June 23 statement that the ministry has never stopped the intake of permanent medical officers.

He said permanent posts in the service are offered based on availability of slots and the doctors must also meet the criteria set by the government.

Between December 2016 and May 31, 2021, a total of 23,077 UD41 medical officers were appointed on a contract basis to undergo graduate training and compulsory service. – TMI