Malaysiakini Letter

Unrecognised doctors – Harapan's failure?

Disillusioned Malaysian Doctor

LETTER | It's been 14 months since Pakatan Harapan took over. The jubilant and exuberant spirit has long gone. Nowadays when Harapan politicians speak, people start grumbling about promises not fulfilled.

What has Harapan done for doctors whose qualifications are not recognised by the government till now? Aren't they still left behind? There is total silence from Harapan. Requests to meet ministers go unanswered. After an initial meeting with the Health Minister in October when he asked each person to write in personally before he rushed off when the hour was up, nothing has happened. Most of us today feel that initial meeting was just done as an "eyewash". 

Is it too hard to change repressive discriminative laws and treat everyone equally? Isn't that what the doctors from the so-called "unrecognised" universities are asking for? To be treated equally? To let them have a housemanship instead of being made to sit for unnecessary qualifying exams? 

Dr Mahathir Mohamad himself has said that the matriculation programme is for weak students. But 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 the governments. There, the universities are forced to pass them. Do you know that the certificates from those government-sponsored chaps to universities in the UK are stamped, “Not to be used in the UK”? 

How much does the government spend on each of these sponsored doctors in terms of scholarships and living expenses which are footed by the taxpayer? 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 mainly non-bumiputera 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.

Even now we don't have enough doctors. Can't the "unrecognised" doctors be allowed to do some sort of probation for six months and be taken in instead of unnecessary exams? It's time to think outside the box. The previous 1Malaysia clinics were run by hospital assistants. This was a clear cut breach of the Medical Act. Couldn't these "unrecognised" doctors be used instead as a form of training? 

Why isn't Harapan breaking up the crony system? Universities which get recognition immediately double and even triple their capitation fees. By removing all this talk about recognition, there will hardly be any capitation fees charged and universities will jump over each other to draw students and try to give them the best deal. That is what competition is about.

By having this unfair advantage of being recognised, it just helps breed corruption to get recognised. You really think the process has been clean all this while under BN? Even officials have been caught being wined and dined to get certain universities recognised.  Are the "leftovers" from BN still playing this game now in Harapan?

Why have the qualifying exams? 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 "unrecognised" doctors 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 previously allowed those who failed in all three 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 four years of theory and only had to continue their two years of clinical at 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 made to take a theory exam then? Haven't their years studying theory been technically recognised now? Don't ever expect replies from the MMC. They think they are lords and all others have to only follow whatever verdict they dish out. Is Harapan condoning this behaviour by keeping in place this discrimination?

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? 

There are pre, mid and post-tests in each department during housemanship. Why the need for any exam 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.

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 Harapan won. Unlike taxi drivers and Felda settlers who are mainly BN supporters, these "unrecognised" doctors are made up of Harapan 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? 

Is it because we are mainly non-bumiputera? We have nothing against the government helping the bumiputera 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 Harapan can still shine bright.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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