Don’t turn your Hippocratic oath into a hypocritical oath, human rights group tells Health Ministry

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Call for transparency on the appointments of permanent medical officers.

NST

Pusat KOMAS is appalled by the recent press statement issued by Malaysia’s Minister of Health, Dato’ Sri Dr. Adham Baba on 23 June 2021 responding to a news article titled “Teliti Semula Urusan Pengambilan Pegawai Perubatan”. We echo the calls by the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) that racial and religious prejudices should not be used to influence the selection of certain contract officers for appointment to permanent service.

Race, religion, ethnicity and gender should not be a criterion to influence any forms of employment opportunities. Instead, the talents and capabilities of the person should be the determinant of such appointments. Therefore, the recent statement1 released by Dato’ Sri Adham Baba taking note of a suggestion by the president of Malaysian Public Health Physicians’ Association (PPPKAM), Dr Zainal Ariffin and Malaysian Muslim Doctors Organisation (PERDIM) to allow more medical graduates “especially among the bumiputera” was totally uncalled for. As the Minister of Health, Dato’ Sri Adham Baba should lead the way to unite all Malaysians by denouncing the call to hire new medical officers along the racial lines and not support them.

Even though the secretary-general of the Ministry of Health, Datuk Mohd Shafiq Abdullah has issued a statement to clarify that the appointment of medical officers on a permanent basis all this while has been based on merit and performance during their housemanship, it is now time for the Ministry of Health to make transparent the details of the evaluation criteria to ensure that there is no more suspicion of such discriminatory practices. For far too long we have heard the government’s promises to adopt a merit-based approach in its employment processes; however, there is no proof available to substantiate the claim.

We would also like to remind Dato’ Sri Adham Baba, PPPKAM and PERDIM that the medical profession is bound by the Declaration of Geneva which was one of the World Medical Association’s (WMA) oldest policies, built on the principles of the Hippocratic Oath. Any forms of “considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene” between the physician’s duty and their patient are not permitted. Similarly, the selection of medical professions should not be based on their race, religion, ethnicities and gender. There is no place for such discriminatory practices in Malaysia.

Don’t turn your Hippocratic oath into a hypocritical oath. Stop all forms of racial and religious discrimination in Malaysia. The country needs better leadership to serve all Malaysians.

Press statement by Pusat Komas dated 28 June 2021.