March 29, 2023
KUALA LUMPUR – A group who identified themselves as contract doctors currently serving with the Health Ministry have threatened mass resignations and a nationwide ‘strike’ next month that could involve some 8,000 contract doctors.
An account known as “Mogok Doktor Malaysia”(Malaysian Doctors on Strike) has since emerged on social media.
Unlike a traditional strike, the organisers have asked those on strike to take emergency or medical leave from April 3 to April 5 as a sign of protest, adding that it does not encourage demonstrations and flashmobs. It also threatened mass resignations on April 1.
A spokesman for the group who declined to be named told The Star that the group had decided to proceed with the job strike peacefully by taking emergency leave or MC from April 3 to April 5 “ because demonstrations or walkouts will cause harm”.
“Now we have confirmed that an estimated 8,000 contract medical officers out of some 20,000 contract MOs will participate in this mass job strike and mass resignation event,” the spokesman said when contacted.
“(Some) 3,000 contract MOs will resign on April 1, while the rest will not be present to work from April 3 to April 5,” the spokesman added.
The group’s demands include the absorption of all contract MOs into permanent positions without any conditions or interviews; increment of basic salary and on-call rate; and resolution for the shortage of specialists, MO and house officers.
They also want the compulsory service term for medical officers to be reduced automatically to three years without application; reduce on-call and work hours for MOs and house officers; and on-call hours should not exceed six times a month and work hours not more than 60 hours a week.
In response, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the ministry is only aware of the alleged strike via social media, adding that the ministry did not have more information about it.
“Generally, when a strike is organised, it is meant to send a specific message to the relevant parties.
“However, this has to be carefully thought of, because the health services are a critical service, as it involves the lives and wellbeing of the people,” he said in a statement.
He said that the unplanned strike is not the best solution to resolve the problems in the medical profession.
The Health DG said the government has from time to time responded and acted on the issues raised and the requests of healthcare workers.
“Among them is the permanent posting, specialist training sponsorship or further training,
time-based promotions, opportunities for promotion to special grade and establishing the UD56 grade for specialists and others.
“Other health schemes were also taken into account and improved.
“I believe, the government from time to time, will ensure that all problems and requests are looked into in line with the current issues and are given the right solution based on the country’s economic capabilities,” Dr Noor Hisham added.
He said the government will continue to prioritise health services as indicated in Budget 2023, reiterating that a strike is not the right solution and the problems that arose have to be addressed properly.