PETALING JAYA: Some medical graduates are frustrated that they need to “go back to school” after being told that they must have Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia-level Bahasa Malaysia to be accepted into permanent government posts.
No more exemptions would be given and some graduates said they were told to register for six core SPM subjects in order to get the BM certificate if they want the posts.
A source said about 300 graduates were affected since the change came into effect on Jan 1. They were from private institutions and waiting for housemanship placements.
Previously, O-Level BM or Bahasa Kebangsaan A (BKA) qualifications were accepted for entry into public service but from this year, those with such qualifications were rejected, according to the affected students.
A graduate, who declined to be named, said he submitted his application for housemanship to the Public Service Commission (PSC) a month after he graduated last August, and after obtaining clearance from the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC), his application was accepted.
But in December, he was told by a PSC officer that he did not pass the screening process to be interviewed for housemanship acceptance because he did not possess “SPM-level Bahasa Melayu or its equivalent” as per the JPA 1/2016 circular.
“The PSC officer told me that the BKA paper I took for my foundation studies was previously accepted as an alternative to SPM BM for public service, but not from January onwards,” he said.
To ease the situation, he said the PSC later relaxed the requirement for medical graduates so that they did not need SPM-level BM for contract jobs – only for permanent posts.
However, when he tried to sign up for the BM examination at the Selangor Education Department, he was told he could not get a certificate for SPM-level BM unless he took six core subjects and passed BM and History.
The other subjects he has to take besides those two are Mathematics, English, Science and Moral studies.
The graduates feel it’s like asking them to go back to secondary school.
“This sudden change is very frustrating,” he said, adding that this was in addition to waiting nine long months for housemanship placement since he submitted his application in September.
Another medical graduate who graduated in July last year said MMC and PSC had considered her qualifications complete in August but in December, a friend told her that they would not be able to get an interview with PSC because they did not have SPM BM.
“I called PSC to check and it was true. I asked why they didn’t tell me earlier and they said they did not know things would change,” said the graduate, who declined to be named.
According to an e-mail reply from the Health Ministry, the rule for having SPM BM to enter public service as housemen was relaxed from 2003 and O-Level BM was accepted but the exemption was removed from 2017, she said.
“If there are too many graduates and they want to restrict the numbers, they should plan ahead. We were not given notice,” she added.
A final-year medical student with O-Level BM studying in a private university said that after hearing how some of her seniors could not enter public service without SPM BM or its equivalent, she decided to sit for SPM-level BM.
However, her mother – who went to help her register for the examination – was told by the Selangor Education Department counter staff that her daughter had to sign up for the six core subjects because she had not taken the SPM before.
“I have a lot to learn (as) I am in my final year of medical studies,” she said.
When contacted, the PSC said it was only observing the requirement set by the Public Service Department (PSD) which, in turn, said it was only implementing the decision made by the Health Ministry.
The PSD said in an e-mail reply that from Oct 1 last year, the appointment of UD41-grade housemen had been carried out on a contract basis. This was to enable graduates who meet housemanship requirements, but did not have an SPM-level BM pass, to serve in order to get a full registration certificate as medical officers.
However, SPM BM is required if the candidates want to apply for permanent posts, the PSD said.