A story about one doctor’s battle with the authorities to become recognised and contribute to society: Unrecognised Doctors – Pakatan Harapan’s failure?

Do you share the same experience as this doctor? Do you agree with him? How could the issue be resolved? Or do you think he is wrong?

Unrecognised Doctors – Pakatan Harapan’s failure?

What has PH been up to?

It’s been 14 months since Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over. The jubilant and exuberant spirit has long gone. Nowadays when PH politicians speak, people start grumbling about promises not fulfilled. How are people to trust a government that doesn’t fulfill it’s manifesto’s promises? Do they think people are fools to be taken for a ride? This was the same feeling when many of us heard the Prime Minister say “We have promised to share the country’s wealth and we have introduced a new policy of shared prosperity… we will make sure that no one will be left behind.” – MalaysiaKini 30th June (https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/481759).

What has PH done for unrecognised doctors till now? Aren’t they still left behind? There is total silence from PH. Requests to meet ministers go unanswered.

After an initial meeting with the Health Minister in October where he asked each person to write in personally before he rushed off when the hour was up, nothing has happened.

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Just one meeting doesn’t mean the job is done. In fact most of us today feel that initial meeting was just done as an eye wash. We want substantive results on the ground! Right now there is nothing to show! Parliament is in sitting now. Is it too hard to change repressive discriminative laws and treat everyone equally? Isn’t that what the doctors from so called unrecognised universities are asking for? To be treated equally? To let them join housemanship like every other Malaysian and be judged then instead of being made to sit for unnecessary qualifying exams? Everyone thought PH would be a fair government but right now, many are disillusioned by them as we don’t see this happening in our lives. In fact many are saying that the Harapan is no more there. Only the Pakatan is still there!

Why can’t they contribute?

When Trump came to power, one of the first acts he did was to remove all unnecessary laws which were suffocating the economy. Under him the US saw a re-emergence of it’s coal and steel industries. He made it a point that for every law passed, there would be at least 2 unnecessary laws removed from the books. This has liberalised the American economy till they have one of the lowest unemployment rates seen for decades.

Maybe PH should take a leaf from his book. Instead of just criticising Trump and calling him erratic, Mahathir should pick up a few pointers from him especially on reviving the stagnant economy. One way of doing this is by letting the doctors from unrecognised universities start working so they can contribute and pay taxes. Is that so hard to figure out?

Why are these doctors cast aside?

Enough of playing racial games and wasting the talents of these doctors. What is so difficult to give them a chance to prove themselves? Mahathir himself has said that Matriculation is for weak students. But it is alleged that these students are sent abroad with marks from mainly course work and many come back as doctors. All because the government sent them to so called recognised universities due to the mutual agreements between governments. There the universities are allegedly forced to pass them. Do you know about the allegation that the cert from those government sponsored chaps to universities in UK are chopped at the back, “Not to be used in the UK”? How much does the government spend for each of these sponsored doctors in terms of scholarships and living expenses which are footed by the tax-payer? It’s in hundreds of thousands! But here the government can’t even appreciate the self funded unrecognised doctors. Isn’t that plain mean of the government? We all know that unrecognised doctors are allegedly mainly non Malays who are not given government scholarships due to the quota system. Facing all odds, they self educated themselves and instead of being appreciative of their spirit of determination, the government just ignores them and puts hurdles for them to cross.

Why are the laws not changed?

When laws for smoking could be so quickly passed by the Health Minister for the well being of the general public, why the apathy to change laws regarding doctors? Wasn’t equality promised by the PH government in all their speeches and roadshows before the elections? Why is it that even after 14 months, the Malaysian Medical Council still has 2/3rds of it’s members appointed? At the end of this month, nearly 50 doctors are fighting for about 10 seats on the council. Where is the democracy when 21 fellows just get to sit there as they are from the public universities? These chaps already have other portfolios. Will they be able to spend time on matters of the council? Isn’t it also a conflict of interest when they keep doctors from joining the medical services as their primary interest is towards their own students from government universities? Why is it so hard to change the Medical Act regarding this? We don’t need BN era laws in this era of PH, but why aren’t die hard PH politicians doing anything about this? You don’t even need a 2/3rds majority for that. A simple majority will do!

Are there enough doctors?

Even now we don’t have enough doctors. This was clearly said in the Malay Mail article of June 30 (https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/06/30/doctor-hospital-bed-ratio-in-johor-still-way-off-health-ministry-target-say/1766871).

Can’t these doctors be allowed to do some sort of probation for 6 months and be taken in instead of unnecessary exams? In fact nearly all of them have done probations more than once before exams in the past. Can’t that be taken on record and they be allowed to immediately join the service? It’s time to think outside the box! The previous 1Malaysia clinics were allegedly run by Hospital Assistants. This was a clear cut breach of the Medical Act. Even under PH they are still run by HAs but rebranded. Couldn’t these doctors be used instead as a form of training? Even a HA can treat patients but these doctors are said to be dangerous!

Why this discriminative law?

This law made in 1992 has only brought misery to them. Get rid of this Article 12A which discriminates against them! After all it was the MMC which allegedly didn’t have funds to go and recognise their universities. When MMC was sued by 30 doctors, that was what their lawyers allegedly replied saying it’s an exhaustive and costly affair to go and do the recognition. Not because the universities were not up-to standard. It is alleged that when Mara or JPA sends students, the university will immediately be recognised. Did they get better overnight? In fact many are in this quandary because their universities didn’t give places to government sponsored students. If their universities had accommodated them, miraculously they would have been recognised.

Why have this exam?

The exams are not cheap. It’s nearly RM7,000 now. That’s not including housing, transportation and food. If added up, it would be more than RM10,000 minimum.

The MMC allegedly sub-cons this exam to the government universities. The allegation is that universities use this opportunity to make the unrecognised doctors sit for their remedial exam towards the end of the year to pass off the government’s weakest students who failed in the main exams earlier. So after paying this huge amount, these doctors are just used as the failure rate of the universities! No doctor who has undergone this will ever trust this exam system ever again. What more when the are not allowed to pass part by part. They may have passed the theory or clinical exams but if just one part is failed, the whole exam is considered a fail. No other professional exam is run as such.

These exams are redundant as MMC allegedly previously allowed those who failed in all 3 attempts to join when the date of their Russian university’s recognition was pre-dated. Also, those in private universities in Indonesia were allowed to do a credit transfer after their 4 years of theory and only had to continue their 2 years of clinical in a recognised government university there. This happened when they paid huge amounts to agents who found loopholes for these Malaysians when even the Indonesians couldn’t do such a transfer. Corruption breeds where there are restrictions. Why are other unrecognised doctors from Indonesia allegedly made to take a theory exam then? Haven’t their theory years been technically recognised now? Don’t ever expect replies from MMC. They think they are Lords and all others have to only follow whatever verdicts they dish out! Instead of sympathising with the predicament of these doctors, those in power use them as laughing stock only. Is PH condoning this behaviour by keeping in place this discrimination?

Why is it unfair?

There is no student senate to fight for these doctors even if their marks are borderline. Lecturers who have never seen these students will definitely scrutinise them more compared to students they are familiar with especially in clinical exams. But then, these doctors still prove themselves in clinical exams as more than 95% clear it. It’s in the theory exams that they are allegedly penalised. No marks from course work is given to them unlike the government students. Roll numbers have been found to be different. Unrecognised doctors previously have to answer in English as they are considered international students and the locals answer the same sections in Malay. And we know there is allegedly negative marking practiced for them but not the government students as the objective papers are computer marked. What is stopping them from not keying in negative marking for unrecognised doctors only? And the MMC claims these exams are fair! What do you expect when it is alleged that 2/3rds of MMC members are appointed from the government universities. Now do you see the conflict of interest?

Are we too exclusive?

Why is it doctors who have passed the Australian Medical Council Exams, the UK PLAB exams, the US USMLE and Canadian Council Exams not allowed to be taken in? Do you mean to say these exams are rubbish? Then why is it the government sponsored doctors to these countries are allowed to practice? Aren’t they also passing exit exams which are of the same standard as these exams? What a mess we create when we try to be exclusive! Why can’t everyone be treated equally? There are pre, mid and post tests in each department during housemanship. Why the need for any exams just to join housemanship? In other countries, if you pass the entrance exams, you can be a medical officer. Only here do we have to take an entrance exam to be a houseman! You really want chaps who are specialists overseas to take a discriminative exam here just to be a houseman? So much for trying to stem the brain drain!

Why cast aside PH supporters?

I’ve given point by point rebuttals in my first 2 letters regarding the discrimination unrecognised doctors face. I have patiently waited nearly 5 months after my second letter for a proper response mainly from the Health Minister but there has been none.

Does PH really want to win the hearts and minds of the people? Don’t they know that they are alienating their core supporters only? Or are they waiting to make promises when their term is nearly over hoping that people will be fooled to vote for them again? Let’s stop these games! We have had enough of it during the BN era.

The unrecognised doctors were the main ones who went to the ground ensuring PH won. Unlike taxi drivers and Felda settlers who are mainly BN supporters, these unrecognised doctors are made up of PH chaps. Why do you think they haven’t made a show of holding placards to humiliate the government? Why is it the Prime Minister has time to meet taxi drivers and Felda settlers to woo them but not the unrecognised doctors and solve their matter? Do these doctors also have to start taking to the streets with placards?

Why aren’t we considered Malaysians?

Or is it because we are mainly Non-Malays? I avoided race in my first 2 letters but it looks like this card is being played to the hilt by certain parties in PH now to fish for votes only. By doing so, PH is just loosing those who were staunchly their supporters. We have nothing against the government helping the Malays but why can’t we all grow together? Don’t just cast us aside just because we don’t fit your racial narrative. There are unrecognised doctors who are also Malays and Chinese although the majority are mainly Indians. Treat us all equally and do away with these racial lenses in Malaysia Baru. Let no Malaysian be left behind especially those doctors from unrecognised universities. Now is the time for Mahathir to redeem himself. He was the architect of this previously. He has been given the trust and mandate again and should rectify the whole matter and truly make sure no Malaysian is left behind so the Harapan still shines bright.

Signed,
Disillusioned Malaysian Doctor

(The views expressed are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Rebuilding Malaysia.
Name and location withheld.)
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