EVERY year, the government spends hundreds of millions (if not billion) of ringgit of taxpayers’ money to sponsor students to pursue critical courses like medicine, dentistry and pharmacy at local as well as overseas universities through the Public Service Department, Mara (Majlis Amanah Rakyat) and other agencies. The government spends roughly between RM300,000 and over a million ringgit to cover the fees and living allowances for each student pursuing these courses.
Only top students with straight As in SPM, STPM, KPM matriculation or other pre-university qualifications are chosen to be sponsored by these government agencies. The intention is for these students to be bonded to serve the country for a number of years at government clinics or hospitals as doctors, dentists or pharmacists after completing their studies and training.
Currently, there is a shortage of such healthcare professionals in government hospitals and clinics throughout the country with the number of patients seeking treatments there increasing year after year.
However, upon graduating and completing their training, many of these healthcare professionals are given a contract to serve the country for one to three years (inclusive of their housemanship) after which their contract is subject to termination. In other words, they are not obligated to serve for the required number of years stipulated in their scholarship agreement.
They are free to work at private clinics or hospitals, open their own clinics or pursue their other interests. Their obligation to serve the rakyat at government clinics and hospitals are not met – not by their own choice but by the Health Ministry (MOH), Public Service Department (PSD) or other relevant departments for reasons best known to them.
How are the MOH, PSD or relevant departments accountable for the billions of ringgit of taxpayers’ money spent in the long years of training those healthcare professionals? Is this the work of Little Napoleons within the various departments or ministries? It is anybody’s guess.
Taxpayers should be given an answer as there is lack of transparency in the way those government-sponsored healthcare professionals are not being fully used in their respective fields.
Transparency is indeed needed in the government’s management of resources and talent pool.
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