Turnabout on BM waiver could stall new grads’ placement by years, says doctors group

Requiring medical graduates to have the SPM-level Bahasa Malaysia qualification could force them to wait two years before they may be employed, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said. — Reuters file pic
Requiring medical graduates to have the SPM-level Bahasa Malaysia qualification could force them to wait two years before they may be employed, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said. — Reuters file pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 6 — Putrajaya’s renewed insistence that contract housemen have SPM-level Bahasa Malaysia qualification could force some affected graduates to wait two years before they may be employed, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said today.

MMA president Dr Ravindran Naidu said some medical graduates who do not have the necessary BM qualification have already been waiting for placement since last year.

“Some of them have been waiting since July, August last year, which means it is already one year,” he told Malay Mail Online.

“If they have to sit for a test now, they can only do so in November, because that’s when people can sit for the paper, and the results will only come out in March. By the time they get a placement after that, it will be two years since they graduated,” he added.

Putrajaya started hiring housemen doctors on a contractual basis last year, after acknowledging a problem with the oversupply of medical graduates in the country that resulted in some waiting for more than a year to be placed in the local healthcare system.

Dr Ravindran, who was resigned to the reversal, said Putrajaya’s rescission of the waiver did not take into account its full implications on some medical graduates.

He said that applying the decision to future graduates rather than retrospectively would have limited the repercussions, as affected students could either take the remedial test after or even before their graduation.

“This way, they would not have to waste precious time,” he added.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam yesterday announced that all contract medical officers must have passed the BM subject in SPM, while Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said this requirement was applicable to all civil service positions.

Dr Subramaniam said the ruling will mainly affect more than 20 medical graduates who do not have the BM qualifications as they are children of diplomats who have spent most of their time overseas.

The Public Service Department relaxed the ruling and issued waivers when there was a shortage of doctors in the civil service in 2003, but the Health Ministry had the rule re-enforced in 2015.

However, the rule was relaxed again last year for several medical graduates to allow them to be absorbed into the civil service.

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