PETALING JAYA: Several doctors have voiced concern over a threat to deregister contract medical officers who take part in the #HartalDoktorKontrak strike on July 26.
They say doing so will jeopardise public health during a time of crisis.
On Tuesday, the Malaysian Medical Association and Schomos (MMA’s section concerning house officers, medical officers and specialists) said they were informed by health minister Dr Adham Baba that the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) might strike off medical practitioners who went on strike from its register because their action would be illegal.
Dr V, a contract doctor in Seremban who plans to take part in the strike, said deregistration would be unfair as their demands were reasonable.
“We feel we should be treated fairly and there should not be such a discrepancy between permanent and contract doctors,” he said.
“We are striking for basic reasons like equal leave, equal pay and career progression to become specialists.
“Also, if you take away all the people on strike, who are going to be your contract doctors? It seems as though the majority of contract doctors are in favour of the movement. If you take them all away, I don’t think the health system can sustain itself, the way things are now.”
A government specialist said it was unfair to threaten to deregister doctors who wanted to go on strike.
“I may not agree with the strike itself, but the movement has certainly done contract doctors a big favour because it has made the people in charge sit up and take notice, which is the point of any strike.”
He said the threat showed that the Medical Act 1971 needed to be amended so that membership issues and registration and deregistration would not be so heavily influenced by the government through the director-general’s role as MMC president.
Referring to the Code Black movement initiated by MMA, the doctor said: “As far as I know, wearing black (on July 12 as a display of solidarity) is fine. I was told this was raised with the minister, and while he did not support it, he also didn’t oppose it.”
A representative for MMA Schomos reaffirmed the group’s opposition to the strike as it would place untold pressure on an already stretched healthcare system, with doctors who remained at work forced to bear the load.
While he declined to comment on deregistration laws specifically, he said the authorities should allow contract doctors to voice their opinions on these matters and not deny them their freedom of speech.