Racial Biasness In Medical Sector Is Normal And Is Nothing New! Get Used To It? – Ask Doctors From Unrecognized Universities

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Jun 30 2021
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The latest request by the Persatuan Perubatan Kesihatan Awam Malaysia dan Pertubuhan Doktor-doktor Islam Malaysia to give permanent posts to Bumiputera doctors has opened up a new debate in the public square. It was basically asking that Non-Bumi doctors be left as contract doctors with a 2 year contract term while Bumi doctors are given permanent positions. Contract doctors do not have job security and are denied rights such as scholarships to become specialists, EPF or pension accounts, housing loans and, of course, career advancement opportunities.


The blow back has been fast and rightly so from the Malaysian Medical Association, opposition politicians and other civil groups till no one other than the Health Minister YB Dr Adham Baba has assured everyone that race does not play a role in giving permanent posts to doctors. However, this has not calmed the waters with many contract doctors now even thinking of going on a strike to show that the future of 20,000 of them can’t be taken lightly.


However, all this is not new. It has been the unwritten rule that race and religion is the underlying factor for doctor appointments. When we look at the treatment of doctors from unrecognized universities, the treatment they have faced all these years is proof to show that it is the dominant factor since the time Dr Mahathir first came to power.

Racism - Malaysia Hospital Doctors

He was instrumental in changing the laws in the early 90’s that stopped doctors from unrecognized universities from doing a compulsory probationary year before joining housemanship to a qualifying examination system. As usual, MIC and MCA played silent partners to this UMNO tyrant who always got his way in all matters.


Staying true to our Malaysia Boleh attitude, the qualifying exams which should be the sole prerogative of MMC were sub-conned to the local universities which were more than willing  to do their master’s bidding. This basically sealed the fate of doctors from unrecognized universities. Exams had a quota system of just 10% passing rate.


No matter if the role numbers were different from the local university students; questions answered in English language while the locals answered in BM; negative marking schemes for these foreign trained Malaysian doctors which was not implemented for the locals; no marks from course work given for these unrecognized doctors while local students had these marks; or local university lecturers and senate ready to pass their students to the detriment of the foreign trained doctors; every dirty game in the book was employed to make them represent the failure rate in the final exams of the local universities.

Malaysia Insufficient Doctors - Rural Area Borneo Sabah and Sarawak

All this was done as nearly 95% of those from unrecognized universities were Non-Bumi candidates. Everyone knew that this was the hidden policy. Why else didn’t MMC evaluate their universities earlier? MMC gave the reason that they didn’t have enough funds or manpower to do so as their numbers were not many in particular universities but it’s a known fact that only when Bumi students are sent there by JPA or other government bodies, will the universities be recognized overnight. Even when all documentation is given, MMC will just say that the university is now registered and the candidate can sit for the exams and deny the sought after recognition.


There is no reason MMC can’t just use the list of medical universities from WHO or the foreign governments to confirm a status of the university. They insist on going there personally in a process which is questionable and open to corrupt practices. The most hurtful thing is that the overseas foreign classmates of these unrecognized doctors who are not Malaysian citizens can come here to Malaysia and do their specialist courses in Malaysian local medical universities and are given a temporary license to practice while they are here. But our own Malaysians are treated like dirt and discarded. Why so racist to our own citizens?


MMC, which has 21 committee members appointed from the local Malaysian public universities and just roughly about 10 other members elected among Malaysian doctors has never bothered to solve this matter of doctors from unrecognized universities. Whenever there is public outcry on this matter, they will conduct another eye-wash 1-off training before exams under the guise of getting the unrecognized doctors acclimatised to the local system and then legitimize a sham exam run by the universities to keep to their biased quota system in play.

Malaysian Medical Council

Here in Malaysia, you have to pass the theory and practical parts of the exams in one go whereas all other professional exams allow repeats of the separate parts only. In one sitting one may pass the theory exam and in another sitting pass the practical part but this doesn’t matter as it’s still considered a failure. The exams cost nearly 10K ringgit to attempt making it too expensive for those who are mainly from the middle or lower income group.


Since the majority of MMC committee members are from a certain race, what is to say that race and religion don’t factor in to their decisions? The MMC chairman is also the DG of Health Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah. Let’s not forget that the DG was the person responsible for removing the quarantine laws after the Sabah elections which caused the covid-19 wave that is ongoing till today with a lockdown which has no end in sight. When health professionals are bound to the whims of politicians, do not expect any surprises from our Malay first government now.


In 2002 the Health Minister, YB Chua Jui Meng announced that doctors from unrecognized universities will be absorbed as housemen after a cabinet decision which was chaired by the acting PM YB Datuk Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. The PM Dr Mahathir was overseas in Egypt and the moment he arrived on Malaysian soil, MMC officials met him in the first class lounge of the airport to stop this from happening.

Mahathir Mohamad - Solemn Sad Facial Expression

MMC came out with a survey which showed that more than 70% of the doctors from unrecognized universities hadn’t attempted the exams and thus used this to force all the chaps from unrecognized universities to do a 6 month course and fail them in exams. Mahathir was totally supportive of this and Datuk Samy Vellu forced all the chaps to go for the course saying Mahathir had stopped the cabinet decision when he returned. As usual MIC just obeys their UMNO masters who only do things with one motive in mind – race and religion. When a MIC vice-President Datuk S. Sothinathan tried to speak up for these doctors, he got a suspension from parliament!


Local students get their results within the week the exam is conducted but MMC takes 2 months to announce results for unrecognized doctors. Why? Many other 1-off trainings and exams have been conducted when their numbers increase and to cull the herd but the unrecognized doctors are still stuck. Aren’t the 1-off trainings enough for them to know the workings of our hospitals here? During these trainings, many a time remarks were made about the race of these doctors.


Many decided that they had enough of the racist climate here and decided to leave the country for good. Maybe that was the plan in the long run to have a brain drain of Non-bumi doctors. In 2004, 30 doctors took a case to court. However, even with all the facts in hand and without bringing in race or religion into the equation, the doctors lost the case in the appeal court in 2010. Having no money to continue to higher courts they abandoned the case. They couldn’t help but feel that the system was rigged against them.

Australian Medical Council AMC

Some doctors who are unrecognized here have passed exams such as the AMC (Australian Medical Council), PLAB (UK), USMLE (US) and Canadian exams. But MMC refuses to accept these results from these esteemed institutions insisting that they only accept university recognition. When a doctor joins housemanship, there are pre, mid and post tests in every department. So why do we need a qualifying examination? Isn’t this just a well planned scheme to keep these doctors out? What comes back as the single underlying factor in all this? Race and religion or course!


When Pakatan Harapan took over, these doctors met with the Health Minister YB Dr Dzulkefly but with Mahathir back as the PM, nothing much could take place. It was the same racist underlying factor in play. When PH fell and PN took over, the doctors from unrecognized universities have been constantly literally begging the present Health Minister YB Adham Baba to allow them in especially seeing other doctors undergoing burnout treating Covid cases. There was even a public appeal by YB Jeffrey Kitingan to take them in by the press but nothing came out of it.


Wouldn’t having these doctors serving Malaysians no matter the race and religion of these doctors be the utmost importance at this crucial time? Their parents too sacrificed much for their children although they didn’t have enough for the high capitation or building fees asked by recognized universities. Instead the Health Minister and MMC plan on making final year medical students and retired doctors as the much needed manpower and forego doctors from unrecognized universities.

Doctor Housemanship - Malaysia - Problems

So, coming back to the initial story of the contract doctors, don’t expect anything much to happen. On their lips the authorities will say there is no race and religion in this matter but the actions of those in power in especially how they treated doctors from unrecognized universities shows how much race and religion has permeated into the professional life of doctors. Start by absorbing all these doctors from unrecognized universities to serve the Malaysian public as a much needed Malaysian resource at this crucial time. This will work towards proving everyone wrong that Malaysia is a racist country. Use the emergency powers given now to take them in immediately.


Disillusioned Malaysian Doctor

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