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It is that time of the year again, when application results for the local masters for medicine programme is announced. Places in these programmes are limited due to the resources required to run such a course in the local setting.

This is usually not the problem, as most are content with the fact that places are limited, and there is a competition for it. What's unbecoming is the time and again issues of candidates who are selected for this programme by some whim and fancy, or by being some VIP children.

What is the message being sent out here? Work hard for the government and do your best, but only don’t hope to progress as there are others who take the shortcut method into the system.

Eligibility of the masters entrance denotes that candidates should be in good standing, and has completed government medical service by the time of entry into the programme. Also, ones has to declare one’s interest in the many specialties of medicine, and taken steps towards it by publishing in the appropriate discipline, or attempting courses or exams which are related to the said course.

However, each year the university takes in candidates under the Slai/Slab scheme , which pinches the available places from going to truly deserving candidates who have served the country. These usually consists of JPA deserters, who refuse to come home and serve the 10-year bond, and apply the easy way out. These are the truly ungrateful lot. Why should they be given this opportunity, and deprive a genuine candidate?

If we go into the depth of the Slai/Slab debacle, we'll be here till the cows come home. No time for that. Let’s talk about the KKM candidature itself. Even here selection of candidate is not transparent. It has always been a grey area.

The health minister and the ministry’s DG lament day in and out about the shortage of doctors but to what effect? There is no remedial action. Good genuine doctors are lost from the KKM fold due to frustration of being slighted and treated unfairly in the masters application. What is your answer to that??

Doctor BS for example, is a candidate who has served the government for the last six years. He had applied for masters in surgery unsuccessfully. The year before last, he had not passed the entrance exams, which in itself was a smokescreen (previous undergraduates from the university which was organising that exam were informed before hand of the questions). This year however, he had passed his entrance exams and went ahead to the interview.

Dr BS has two years experience in general surgery, and another two years in sub-specialised surgery. Completed his Part 1 and Part 2 membership exams with the Royal College of Surgeons in UK. All his paperwork is in order (by no means an easy task going by the standards set by KKM and the staff who ' makan gaji buta' ), his SKTs (Sasaran Kerja Tahunan - a form of dubious assessment in government service) are well over the required 86% for three consecutive years. Yet he was denied entry into the masters program.

In his place the university has accepted far inferior candidates. So, people like Dr BS, are left with no option but to quit service, after being frustrated for years. Here is a candidate who is true to the name, a bona-fide postgraduate candidate and yet again, has been let to slip through the nets of dubious selection criteria.

Well done KKM and the universities. Shame on you.