Close To 300 Doctors Reveal Why Overseas Doctors Do Not Come Back – Can Dr Mahathir Fix It?

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Nov 16 2018
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Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, pledged to fix some problems which prevent or discourage Malaysians abroad from returning home during his visit to Singapore to attend the 33rd Asean Summit. As a medical doctor himself, the premier specifically mentioned complaints by well-qualified doctors who have faced various difficulties.


He reportedly said – “The government of Malaysia must also understand that they should welcome these people back. Unfortunately, sometimes, people who come back aren’t very welcomed. They find Malaysia not too welcoming for them. This will be corrected. I promise this will be corrected by the new government.”


Speaking at a high tea with Malaysians living in Singapore, PM Mahathir said his government is aware that some of those who have migrated do not feel very welcomed, and face several barriers such as stifling bureaucracy and requirements involving the Malay language. However, there are other problems that the 93-year-old premier may not realize.

Mahathir Mohamad - Honorary Doctor of Laws - NUS National University of Singapore

We at “Finance Twitter” received an email from a doctor who would like to share some problems related to the serious brain drains happening in the country. We have been requested to publish the letter, hoping PM Mahathir could fix it, without which it would affect close to 300 doctors. Below is the letter sent by the disillusioned Malaysian doctor:


It was truly heartening to read what our beloved Prime Minister said about welcoming returning professionals especially mentioning doctors in particular (Malay Mail 12 November, 2018 – Malaysia not welcoming returning professionals? We’ll fix that, PM pledges)


Many of these doctors do not come back because the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) refuses to recognise their basic medical degree. Thus, they have decided to settle in other countries which give them the opportunity to practice.

Malaysian Medical Council

Even here in Malaysia, due to the non-recognition of their medical degree, many are left on the sidelines. The MMC, which is an undemocratic statutory body made up of more than 20 appointed seats from the previous administration and having only 10 elected members; claims to speak for all doctors in Malaysia and uphold standards.


The reason many universities which are world famous are left out of the recognition list is due to the fact that the MMC themselves have claimed that they do not have sufficient funds to do the recognition process unless MARA or JPA students are sent to the respective universities.


Thus, universities who clamour for this recognition allow in government sponsored candidates; as then they can overnight double and even triple the capitation fees charged to private paying Malaysians the moment recognition is obtained from MMC. This just opens up the whole question of weather the process was indeed done professionally and meticulously other than being political in nature.

Australian Medical Council AMC

MMC refuses to accept other stringent qualifying exams such as the Australian Medical Council (AMC), PLAB from UK, USMLE from the US and the Canadian Medical Exams. Thus, many doctors who found the system unfavourable in Malaysia passed these exams and started working overseas.


No other reason is given by MMC other than that they only recognise university exams and not council exams. These are archaic rulings that should be dispensed with if indeed what the Prime Minister said is to become a reality.


Having these doctors whom many are now already specialists to sit for a qualifying test (QT) here is indeed not feasible as many have attempted it and found the exams biased with practices such as different role numbers for them compared to the local university students, they made to answer the questions in English while the local chaps answer in BM, no marks given from course work for them, and; negative marking practiced for them and not the local university chaps.

Doctor Housemanship - Pressure

Time and again the MMC under different Health Ministers has rolled out at their university sub-cons; their one-off training before the exams. Till today I count nearly 5 times this has been done. However, they are all engineered to keep the passing rate low in the QT to prove their biased quota system of just passing about 10 – 30% of the doctors.


The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) President Dr Mohd Namazie Ibrahim in his article titled “The reality about Medicine” in the Star newspaper dated 28th October, 2018 has stated that “house officers may have their training extended if their performance is unsatisfactory and those who fail to complete the training in 3 years will be asked to leave”.


If there is such a stringent training available, why are we wasting time making doctors from unrecognised universities sit for an exam? Everyone in this New Malaysia should be treated equally and allowed to serve as house officers and prove themselves.

Doctor Housemanship - Problems

In the past, doctors who had their universities retrospectively recognised were allowed to practice as house officers. They proved themselves during the housemanship and medical officer years and were registered. There were some of these doctors who had even failed the QT on all 3 attempts. Just because out of some stroke of the pen the date of recognition was predated, they could join the service.


This is not to mention that we had allowed foreign born doctors who were from unrecognised universities to come here and do their specialists course at our local medical universities. What was denied to our own Malaysians from unrecognised universities was allowed for their classmates who were foreigners!


We even employed specialists who were foreigners to work here while their own university mates who were Malaysian couldn’t even start treating patients here in a supervised environment due to their basic degree being unrecognised.

Doctor Housemanship - Malaysia - Problems

There is too much which can be written about this matter. Doctors from unrecognised universities are hard-working doctors whose parents couldn’t afford the high capitation fees but who still went on their own to pursue their dreams and not be affected by any local university quota.


They were not given anything on a silver platter to achieve their degrees which was usually in uncomfortable environments. They didn’t burden the country by taking loans which many refuse to even pay back nowadays. These are the doctors Malaysia should take pride in and welcome with open arms.


We do not have a problem of a surplus of doctors. We still have not met the ideal doctor-patient ratio set by WHO. We have a problem of there not being enough hospitals to train doctors. We now have to move forward and in this New Malaysia, have the situation changed especially by removing Article 12 of the Medical Act regarding unrecognised doctors so all Malaysians are treated equally and allowed to be trained as houseman under the Malaysian sun.

Malaysian Medical Doctor - Graduates

No doctor should be left behind. The mistakes of the past have to be corrected under this new administration. Doctors who are already specialists overseas should also be welcomed as specialists. Only then can the vision of our beloved Prime Minister become a reality.


Disillusioned Malaysian Doctor


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