GEORGE TOWN, May 4 —  The Penang Health Department confirmed this afternoon the death of a houseman assigned to the state general hospital, after news reports of the incident raised questions over the work conditions for junior doctors.

State health director Dr Ma’arof Sudin said the trainee doctor was placed at the Penang Hospital on April 4 and fell to his death on April 17 from the latter's building of residence.

“This case is now under investigation by the police who have ordered for a post-mortem to be conducted,” he said in a statement.

He was responding to a news report by The Vibes on the recent death of the houseman.

Dr Ma’arof said Penang Hospital's forensic department conducted the autopsy.

“We are still waiting for other laboratory test results to complete a full report,” he said.

He added that the final report will be submitted to the police to assist in its investigations.

“Since this case is still under police investigation, and in respect of the deceased’s family and friends, we appeal for the cooperation of all parties not to speculate further and spread unverified information on this case,” he said, adding that the state health department will provide updates on the case accordingly.

Dr Ma’arof extended his condolences to the deceased’s family and friends.

Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P. Ramasamy and state executive councillor for health Norlela Ariffin had both highlighted the houseman's death earlier this morning and called on the authorities to delve deeper into the incident.

Norlela claimed junior doctors at government hospitals in Malaysia were subject to “inhumane working conditions” that often left them exhausted and vulnerable to "accidents".

Ramasamy claimed the latest houseman fatality to be the result of bullying and harassment, adding that it was the second incident in two years.

In a separate statement Penang Consumers Protection Association president Datuk K. Koris Atan proposed that the Health Ministry conduct a “major overhaul” of the housemanship procedures in government hospitals.

“It is not fair to ask young doctors to work 16 hours a day and still perform a meaningful job,” he said.

Koris echoed Ramasamy, saying the latest incident if the second to affect housemen from the same hospital in two years.

“Something must be done to protect our young doctors,” he said.