Hundreds of medical officers go on strike, demand fair treatment

KUALA LUMPUR (July 26): Hundreds of contract doctors and medical officers from public hospitals nationwide today joined a strike to express their dissatisfaction with the government’s recent announcement of what it deemed as improved benefits and contracts, reported Malay Mail.

The group of hundreds, dressed in full black attire, began the march from Hospital Ampang today at 11am sharp amid heavy police presence to maintain order. Most of them were holding the placards writing #HartalDoktorKontrak in a demonstration to demand equal treatment.

“We are exhausted and tired of waiting. The reasons given by the prime minister do not resolve the issue but merely a continuation of our contracts,” said an anonymous spokesperson of the group.

The strike was dismissed 10 minutes later so as not to disrupt ongoing hospital operations.

Meanwhile, similar strikes happened in hospitals located in Johor Bahru, Ipoh and Sabah.

Last night (July 25), health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah made a plea to contract doctors not to join the strike by reminding them of their oath to “first do no harm or injustice to our patients”.

Earlier on, the government had announced an interim solution of two years' contract extension, during which changes to the law could be made, allowing for permanent appointments with contributions to the Employees Provident Fund. However, the Hartal Doktor Kontrak group saw the offer as a half-baked solution and decided to carry on the strike today.

An estimated 23,000 of the 52,000 doctors under the Ministry of Health are on contracts. While most of the contract doctors are Covid-19 frontliners, they do not receive job security, equal terms and career progression as their peers in permanent positions.

The contract system was introduced by former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for medical, dental and pharmacy graduates due to constraints on permanent positions.

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