Fretting over junior doctors’ fate, MMA petitions for return of critical allowance

The Malaysian Medical Association launched an online petition demanding the reinstatement of the RM750 critical allowance for new healthcare professionals joining the civil service beginning next year. — Screencap from Change.org
The Malaysian Medical Association launched an online petition demanding the reinstatement of the RM750 critical allowance for new healthcare professionals joining the civil service beginning next year. — Screencap from Change.org

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 25 — The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has launched an online petition demanding the reinstatement of the RM750 critical allowance for new healthcare professionals joining the civil service beginning next year.

Its vice-chairman on issues concerning house and medical officers Dr Vijay Ganasan questioned the decision made by the Public Service Department, asking why healthcare professionals seem to be specifically targeted when it comes to budget cuts.

“Why does the civil service seem to be targeting the healthcare workers? We are the only professional scheme with contract juniors. We are now faced with a sharp reduction in our incentives.

“There seems to be an ever-increasing burden being placed on our juniors, and this we from the associations feel to be unfair,” said Dr Vijay in the petition’s statement.

Although he said the MMA supports prudence and a leaner civil service, it should never come at the expense of critical areas of development for the country, namely health and education.

After 18 hours since the petition’s launch, it has received over 46,000 signatures, just 4,000 shy of its target.

Dr Vijay pointed out that many healthcare professionals are driven by the passion to serve and heal — regardless if they are nurses, pharmacists, dentists or doctors.

Furthermore, those in the profession have sacrificed a lot for the sake of others including their youth, family time and health in order to learn and be trained to heal patients under their care.

“For these sacrifices, healthcare professionals received a few incentives, one of them being the critical allowance as the profession was deemed an essential element to the growth of the country.

“With the introduction of the contract positions as well as the limited positions available, the job security which was enjoyed in the past for most healthcare professionals has been lost,” he said.

Dr Vijay further criticised JPA’s decision saying that newly employed junior healthcare staff are already facing bleak career prospects with little chance of permanent positions.

A further 15 per cent decrease in pay for the professionals is a significant one, he claimed. It will impact morale leading to reductions in productivity and overall job satisfaction.

At the same time, he added that money is not exactly the issue, but it is a form of recognition that the services provided are critical and appreciated.

On December 20, JPA announced that doctors, engineers, architects and various professionals once deemed vital to Malaysia’s development will no longer receive a “critical” allowance when they join the civil service starting January 1, 2020.

The ruling administration’s decision to cut out the Critical Service Incentive Payment will affect new workers across 33 critical service schemes.

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