SPM-level BM is now needed for contract-based doctors in Malaysian public hospitals

20170710090000, Brenda Lau
SPM-level BM is now needed for contract-based doctors in Malaysian public hospitals
Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam (centre) speaks during a press conference at the Ministry of Health in Putrajaya on 5 July 2017. Photo credit: Yusof Mat Isa
Previously, it was reported that the Ministry of Health (MOH) has waived the minimum pass-requirement in Bahasa Melayu (BM) at the SPM-level for contract-based doctors of Grade UD41, with many criticising the move as relaxing the requirements.

However, on 4 July, Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said that there has been misunderstanding over the issue.

He explained that the decision was an initiative by the MOH to in fact, uphold the national language, as the previous condition set by the Public Service Department (PSD) since 2003 did not require a pass in BM for the appointment of permanent medical officers in the civil service.

This raised further confusion and many called for clarification from the MOH and the Education Ministry.

On 5 July, the matter has finally been clarified ̶ medical graduates must pass the SPM-level BM paper to be appointed as contract-based doctors in public hospitals.

They however, do not need to take the six core SPM subjects ̶ BM, English, History, Mathematics, Science and Moral or Islam Studies ̶ to be in the civil service.

Upon passing the examination, they can serve as housemen in government hospitals. Those undergoing housemanship or on compulsory service are also considered contract-based doctors.

The issue stemmed from a medical graduate that said that they were given a waiver for SPM BM from 2003 when the country faced a shortage of doctors, but the waiver was removed this year without adequate notice.

Before the waiver was withdrawn, O-Levels BM or Bahasa Kebangsaan A was accepted. The MOH then addressed their plight and asked the PSD to waive the SPM-level BM pass requirement for contract staff. In February, the PSD agreed to the request but insisted that SPM-level BM for permanent posts is still needed.

Despite that, some medical graduates in Selangor said they could not register for only the BM subject at the state Education Department, while other states required only BM and History. 

Amendments will be made after further discussions


Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the matter had been clarified by the Education Minister at the weekly Cabinet meeting on 5 July. 

"The Cabinet also decided to amend the Medical Act 1971 to make it mandatory for medical officers to serve two years after their housemanship and insert the clause on the Bahasa Melayu pass requirement," he said.

When asked when the amendments will be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat, Ahmad Zahid said it would have to be discussed by the MOH and the Attorney-General's Chambers first.

"The Cabinet was told that the Malaysian Examinations Syndicate allows for professionals to take a single paper. So these graduates can take their Bahasa paper in November and then apply for housemanship,” he said.

According to him, there were only 23 doctors who were given the waiver, half of which are children of diplomats and went to medical schools abroad.

"I do not it to appear as though 300 or 3,000 people are affected," he said.

"The decision taken by the Cabinet today is final," he added.

The following day, Dr Subramaniam said the 23 doctors who do not have a pass in the SPM BM paper, must sit for the exam until they pass, citing the Cabinet's decision to apply the new amendment to all contract-based doctors. MIMS


Read more:
30% of housemen in Malaysia unable to complete training due to ineptitude
Conflicting views over solutions for longstanding problem of medical graduate glut
MOH Malaysia announces changes to Medical Act 2012 and Medical Regulations 2017

Sources:
http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2017/07/05/two-year-govt-contract-top-housemanship-medical-officers
http://english.astroawani.com/malaysia-news/no-waiver-allowed-bm-requirement-civil-service-jobs-dpm-148343
http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/bm-pass-issue-for-doctors-misunderstood-says-deputy-minister
http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/07/06/pass-spm-bahasa-and-be-in-civil-service-medical-grads-told/
http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/07/06/23-doctors-must-sit-for-bm-paper-until-they-pass/

Video

The Cabinet's decision on the SPM-level BM pass requirement. Video credit: The Star Online