The Health Ministry has recently waived the minimum pass-requirement in Bahasa Melayu (BM) at the SPM-level for contract-based doctors of Grade UD41. This was done to facilitate those who have yet to sit for the examination for numerous reasons.

Health Director-General, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah stated that this included medical graduates who had studied overseas, graduates who underwent the O-Level examination at an international school and those who took the BM subject at university.

Graduates can apply to sit for BM subject alone

The Health Ministry said in February, the Public Service Department had agreed to waive the SPM-level BM pass requirement for contract appointments. Noor Hisham elaborated that it was still mandatory for graduates who are applying for permanent positions as medical officers (MO) in the ministry to pass the BM subject.

“There are other service schemes that set a higher requirement, BM credit, for appointment,” he added.

Private candidates who wish to sit for the SPM examination for the first time could seek permission from the Examinations Board director to take BM as a single subject, said Noor Hisham. This comes after some medical graduates voiced concerns as they were told that they needed to sit for multiple SPM subjects to obtain an SPM certificate.

“The Health Ministry will have further discussions with the Education Ministry and Examinations Board to facilitate the process for the private candidates,” he added.

Decision sparks criticism

Umno Youth’s executive council member, Shahril Hamdan has criticised the move to relax the BM requirement for medical graduates – as he believed it would make the national language seem sidelined.

He complained that there was no justification for the decision. Shahril also claimed that this would worsen matters in the case of the oversupply of medical graduates in Malaysia.

“BM is not merely a must-pass subject in schools, but is the core of unity and national integrity,” said Shahril, who is also the wing’s Young Professionals Bureau chief.

Besides that, he cast doubt on the effectiveness of a future doctor to appropriately manage his patients without possessing a good grasp of the Malay language.

Pahang Umno Youth chief Shahar Abdullah also commented on this decision and warned that it would potentially trigger a demand to abolish BM as a respected language in Malaysia.

In response to this, Noor Hisham said, “This flexibility is not a new thing, even foreign medical officers or physicians appointed do not require a pass in BM at the SPM-level.”

He continued, “If a medical graduate is not able to undergo graduate training and compulsory service, the medical graduate will not be allowed to practise as a Medical Doctor in Malaysia. The ministry is concerned that this will undoubtedly, affect their future after working hard to get a medical degree.”

According to the Article 152 of the Federal Constitution and the National Language Acts 1963/67 (Act 32), Bahasa Melayu is the national language and the official language of the Federation. Hence, the appointment into public service still necessitates a pass in BM at SPM-level or equivalent, explained Noor Hisham. MIMS

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