Mogok Doktor Malaysia told to be mindful of consequences over threat to strike

PETALING JAYA: Mogok Doktor Malaysia should be mindful of the consequences of its calls for a nationwide strike among government contract doctors from April 3 to April 5.

A contract doctor who worked at a hospital in Kuala Lumpur said he heard about the strike but felt it was uncalled for as engagements are underway between healthcare groups and the government.

"I would rather wait and see what the outcome is. This government is new, we need to give them a chance.

"As we know this is a legacy issue. It is unfair to cast the blame entirely on the current health minister.

"They say 8,000 will participate and 3,000 might resign. I am not sure of the numbers though, it seems a bit too high," said the doctor who declined to be identified.

Another contract doctor who works in Penang said doctors being absent from work by taking emergency leave and medical leave may put patient care under jeopardy.

"I heard of the strike on social media and the talks among doctors. However, I don’t think I want to participate because it seems quite hush hush and lacks transparency," she said.

"As it is we are short-handed, just imagine 8,000 are absent, what would happen to the patients?," she added.

She acknowledged doctors were unhappy with the situation, especially the low on-call rate of RM9 per hour, but she says the strike is not a solution.

"Think about the patients. Give the government a chance to work on this," she said.

Another doctor, in Johor, meanwhile said he hoped that the protest would not turn out to be an "April’s Fools" prank.

"I hope they are serious and this is not an April’s Fools joke. It is a serious threat to make and they must be responsible for their actions," he said.

The doctors were speaking on condition of anonymity as they were unauthorised to make public statements.

The group took to social media to call on contract doctors to take emergency leave or medical leave from April 3 to April 5 as a sign of protest.

Apart from that, it also called those who wanted to resign to do so en masse from April 1. Mogok Doktor Malaysia says it expected some 3,000 resignations within April.

Meanwhile, a representative from Hartal Doktor Kontrak (HDK), another group which represented contract doctors, reiterated that it is not associated with the strike, nor is it aware of the people behind it.

Two years ago, in July 2021 HDK led a nationwide walkout by contract doctors as a sign of protest against the contract system.

"People can pluck out any random numbers from the air and personally I don't think that many people will join," said Dr Muhammad, a HDK representative.

"We did approach them (Mogok Doktor Malaysia) but to no avail. In fact many of Hartal admins had been blocked by the instagram page," he added.

However, he acknowledged that it is the right of Mogok Doktor Malaysia to express its dissatisfaction.

"It is their right in expressing their feelings and dissatisfaction over an unresolved issue," he said.

"However they should be aware of the risk of their actions since the movement has no proper legal team,” he added.

Mogok Doktor Malaysia however was confident that it would hit the target of 8,000 contract doctors.

"The majority of contract doctors prefer to strike in this way because we can't be penalized by law as we are not organising any demonstration or walkout which pose dangerous to us," its spokesperson said.

In a statement on March 30, Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai urged the group to call off its plans to go on strike and refrain from any move that might cause worry and anxiety among the public.

"We refer to the social media posts by the #MOGOKDOKTORKONTRAK group telling Malaysians not to go to public health care facilities from April 3 to April 5 because of a planned strike by this group of contract doctors," he said.

"A strike will cause major inconveniences for the sick, injured and the elderly who may be relying on public health care.

"We wish to remind the doctors group of the oath they took to 'first do no harm' when they were sworn in as doctors,” he added.

He also urged the group to immediately stop motivating mass resignations as it can have serious consequences by causing a crisis in the system and compromising healthcare delivery which may even result in loss of lives.

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