PUTRAJAYA: Medical graduates must pass the SPM-level Bahasa Malaysia (BM) paper to be appointed as contract-based doctors in public hospitals.
However, these contract doctors will not be required to take the six core SPM subjects – Bahasa Malaysia, English, History, Mathematics, Science and Moral or Islam Studies – to be in the civil service.
Once they pass the examination, they can serve as housemen in government hospitals.
Contract-based doctors are those undergoing housemanship as well as those on compulsory service.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the matter had been clarified by the Education Minister at the weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday.
“The Cabinet was told that the Malaysian Examinations Syndicate allows for professionals to take a single paper. So these graduates can take their Bahasa paper in November and then apply for housemanship,” he said.
Last week, The Star reported that some 300 medical graduates with O-Levels qualifications would be required to take the SPM-level BM to be accepted into housemanship.
A medical graduate said that they were given a waiver for SPM BM from 2003 when the country did not have enough doctors but the waiver was suddenly removed this year without adequate notice.
Before the waiver was withdrawn, O-Levels BM or Bahasa Kebangsaan A was accepted.
Following their plight, the ministry asked the Public Service Department (PSD) to waive the SPM-level BM pass requirement for contract staff and in February, the PSD agreed to the request. But they still need the SPM-level BM for permanent posts.
However, some medical graduates in Selangor said they could not register for only the BM subject but had to register for all six core SPM subjects at the state Education Department, while those from some other states were required to take only BM and History.
On Sunday, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said on his website that a waiver was given on the SPM-level BM for contract-based doctors (two years of housemanship and two years of compulsory service) but not for permanent posts.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said the Cabinet decided that SPM-level pass for Bahasa Malaysia would remain a requirement for those who wanted to work with the civil service.
“We are committed to uphold what is stated in the Federal Constitution when it comes to the issue of the national language,” he told a press conference.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said that apart from the Health Ministry, no other ministry, department or agency had relaxed the ruling.
“But at one point, the Health Ministry needed doctors, so this exemption was made. Now, the Cabinet wants the requirement to be maintained,” he added.
He also pointed out that only 23 medical graduates were given the exemption and not “300 or 3,000 as reported”.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the requirement for contract medical officers, including contract-based doctors, to sit for the SPM-level BM paper was re-introduced last December because of the current flood of medical graduates.