Health Ministry warns against participation in illegal gatherings a day before planned strike

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry (MOH) has sent out a warning to all employees that they could face disciplinary action if they participate in illegal gatherings.

The warning, issued by its integrity unit on its Facebook page, came a day before a nationwide strike on Monday (July 26) by a group of contract doctors called "Hartal Doktor Kontrak".

The MOH said "illegal gatherings" include leaving the office to participate in any gathering during working hours as well as active involvement beyond working hours.

The warning, in the form of a graphic, also prohibited using government facilities such as printers or photocopiers to print material related to illegal gatherings.

According to the group, a major walkout involving contract doctors will take place beginning 11am on Monday (July 26), with claims it will involve contract doctors from major hospitals nationwide, especially in Selangor.

"We will pass over (shifts) to our permanent colleagues and we will go home en masse. We will show that our numbers are huge," Dr Umar Baraka, one of the group's organisers, said in a recent press conference.

Dr Umar also said survey by the group estimated between 4,000 and 5,000 contract medical officers from hospitals across the country would go on strike on Monday.

In recent weeks, the situation of the contract system of healthcare personnel in the country has been in the spotlight.

On Friday (July 23), Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the government had agreed to provide contract medical officers, dentists and pharmacists career opportunities on par with permanent medical officers.

Muhyiddin also announced that the Cabinet had decided to give contract officers other benefits such as fully-paid study leave, but did not address the group's demand for permanent positions.

The government, in response to the group's demands, offered to extend their contracts to a maximum of four years.

However, Dr Umar described Muhyiddin's announcement as nothing new, pointing out that they were promised the same by the previous government five years ago.

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