A veteran dentist from Puchong questions several provisions in the Dental Bill 2012 to be tabled at the next parliamentary sitting.
A veteran surgeon from Puchong, who wished to remain anonymous, said the punishment stated is for a first-time offender.
Under the existing Dental Act, an unregistered dentist who practises as surgeon stands to be fined an amount not exceeding RM10,000. Jail sentence only comes in for a repeat offender.
“We hope the government would consider doing away with imprisonment for dentists as per international standards. Fine them or even suspend them but please no jail time,” he said.
Under the new Bill, the dentist also said that the fee for the annual practising certificate (APC) would be doubled from the existing RM50 to RM100 per certificate.
“Even now many are complaining on the requirement for dental surgeons to apply for APC for every clinic they practise at instead of having only one.
“Instead of addresssing the matter, the government plans to increase the price for the APC instead,” he said.
In July, several dentists criticised the Malaysian Dental Council (MDC) for requiring dental surgeons to apply for APCs at every clinic they work.
One even likened the APC to applying a driver’s licence for every type of car being driven.
Under the proposed legislation, the dental surgeon said that dental nurses, also known as dental therapists, would be grouped on an equal footing with the dental surgeon.
In addition, he said, the Bill would allow dental therapists to conduct non-invasise procedures, such as tooth extractions and fillings, on patients below the age of 18.
“What if anything happens? At the end of the day, the clinic is registered under the dental surgeon and we will have to take responsibility if dental therapists make mistakes.
“Besides, if you go to a clinic, who do you want to see? A doctor or a nurse to cure your ailment?” he asked.
If the government wanted to regulate dental therapists, the dental surgeon said, it would be best if the government established a separate legislation for them.
“While medical doctors and medical nurses have different sets of laws governing them, why would the government group dentists and our nurses in the same legislation?”
Medical doctors in Malaysia are regulated under Medical Act 1971 while medical nurses are governed by the Nurses Act 1950.
The surgeon also questioned the government’s rationale in empowering the MDC to issue temporary licences to foreign dental surgeons to open private practice in Malaysia.
He added that Malaysia is set to have a surplus of dentists in years to come.
“We have about 10,000 dentists and the number is growing. Even now, I’ve heard cases of some qualified dental surgeons, unable to get a job, working as dental therapists.
“So if you allow foreigners to open private practice in this situation, what will happen to our local dentists?” he asked.
The new Bill is set to be tabled in the coming parliamentary sitting, to replace the existing Dental Act 1971.