BEING a doctor is an incredibly demanding job, but that has not stopped most doctors-cum-politicians in the state from balancing both jobs after getting elected into office.
Newly elected Kampar MP and heart surgeon Dr Ko Chung Sen said he had to be more careful when arranging patient appointments now.
“Now, my clinic at KPJ Ipoh Specialist Hospital requires patients to make appointments before they come for consultation.
“I could accept a few walk-in patients before the elections but it is almost impossible now,” he said.
Dr Ko said the situation was inevitable as his MP responsibilities required him to travel to Kampar three to four times a week.
“Kampar is quite a large area to cover compared to Ipoh, which is divided into a few parliamentary seats.
“Besides attending functions, I have been checking on crime cases in the area, performing walkabouts and coordinating with the state assemblymen,” he said.
Dr Ko expects his schedule to loosen up a little when he gets his service centre up and running sometime in June.
“I have already rented a shop in Kampar old town, hired three full-time workers and am waiting to get a quotation on the necessary renovations.
“I hope the renovations can be completed in time so I can serve my constituents in a more organised manner,” he said.
As a first-time MP, Dr Ko admitted he needed time to grasp his role but thankfully has his family and comrades to support him.
“Fellow doctor and Gopeng MP Dr Lee Boon Chye and a few other political veterans have been very helpful in giving me advice on the ins and outs of the job.
“I am also grateful to my family who have been very supportive even as they learn to cope with my absence while performing my MP duties,” he said.
Despite the difficult task lying ahead of him, Dr Ko said he would gladly take up the mantle to fight for people’s rights.
“I became a doctor because I enjoy helping people and I became a politician for the same reason.
“The job is very challenging but it is something I’m willing to face,” he said.
Nine medical doctors had contested in both parliamentary and state seats in Perak during the 13th general elections that were held recently.
Of the nine, four won their contested parliamentary seats and one won a state seat.
They are DAP’s Dr Ko (Kampar), PKR’s Dr Lee (Gopeng), Umno’s Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali (Bagan Serai), PSM’s Dr Michael Jeyakumar (Sungai Siput) and MCA’s Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon (Chenderiang).
Dr Lee, who also runs a clinic at KPJ Ipoh Specialist Hospital, is notably more used to the hectic lifestyle of an MP since it is his second term.
“When I was first elected in 2008, I had to cut down on my clinic hours and readjust my schedule to accommodate my MP responsibilities.
“However, the burden is not as great now, since my service centre has a few full-time workers and has been running for a few years,” he said.
“It also helps that I am a specialist, so most of my patients meet me through appointments, as compared to general practitioners who have a lot of walk-in patients,” he said.
Dr Lee said to a small extent, his medical expertise also helped him service his constituents better.
“When I am faced with medical cases from my constituents, I can help them get referrals to the proper specialists and give advise accordingly,” he said.
The fact that the whole of Gopeng is now under Pakatan Rakyat has also helped Dr Lee in being able to reach out to more constituents.
“Since all three state seats under Gopeng are held by Pakatan leaders with the same goals, we are able to work very closely and pool our resources.
“This has definitely helped us to better serve the people and push for positive changes in the country’s institutions,” he said.
Like the other doctors Dr Jeyakumar has had to cut down on his clinic hours too but does not regret taking up his MP post.
“I have stopped admitting patients at my Kinta Medical Centre clinic and only open my clinic doors once a week, as compared to five days a week before I became MP.
“I feel bad for my regular patients, but this is what I have to do as a people’s representative,” said Dr Jeyakumar, who is a physician specialising in internal medicine.