No disciplinary action to be taken against contract doctors over protest, says Health Minister

KUALA LUMPUR: Disciplinary action will not be taken against the contract doctors who participated in the nationwide walkout yesterday (July 26), said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.

"In regards to the contract doctors' protest, there will be no action taken against them for demonstrating," he said when winding up his briefing on the nation's measures to address the Covid-19 pandemic in Parliament today (July 27).

Despite Dr Adham's announcement, Opposition MPs argued the issue plaguing contract doctors was their bleak future when it came to their specialisations.

Dr Adham said the government's offer to allow contract medical officers to extend their term for another two-years was to allow for more time for the Health Ministry to table the relevant amendments on the Pension Act.

"All contract doctors in the Health Ministry system can be absorbed into permanent positions and we can help them.

"But we need MPs' support to amend the Pensions Act and the Public Service Act.

"We hope all MPs will support this amendment in future so contract doctors can be absorbed into permanent positions," he said.

However, Opposition leaders remained dissatisfied, with Khalid Abdul Samad (PH-Shah Alam) saying more should be done for contract doctors as other leaders stood up in a shouting match.

Charles Santiago (PH-Klang) also stood up and asked for disciplinary action to be withdrawn against contract doctors for protesting on Monday (July 26), but he was swiftly told off by Deputy Speaker Datuk Rashid Hasnon for not paying attention to proceedings.

"Dr Adham has already explained. Weren't you listening? That's why I told all of you to sit and let the minister explain."

Dr Adham subsequently reiterated that disciplinary action would not be taken against contract medical officers, given that they have democratic rights as well.

Dr Kelvin Yii (PH-Bandar Kuching) and Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad then stood up and said they would pledge full support to the Health Ministry if it managed to table the proposed amendments in Parliament.

"You have to give them eight years (extension) and we will support you. Not two years, it isn't enough for post-graduate studies," said Dr Dzulkefly.

The "Hartal Doktor Kontrak" movement involved medical officers on contract and included pharmaceutical officers and dental officers who were asking for permanent positions in the public service under the Health Ministry.

Many states had contract doctors walking out from 11am on Monday (July 26) and they returned back to their respective duties after an hour.

Prior to Dr Adham's briefing, Opposition MPs also called on the government to drop disciplinary actions.

Dr Dzulkefly said contract doctors must not be treated like disposable personal protective equipment as they were merely practising their democratic rights.

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