Govt may extend compulsory public service for doctors

Instead of forcing doctors to work for you, why not make government service so attractive, they will all want to work for you? Why insist on using the stick, when a carrot would be far more effective? Why??? 

By Dr. Adrian Wong

Just when you think you have seen the absolute DEPTHS of our government’s stupidity and selfishness, they surprise us yet again. There is apparently a bottomless abyss when it comes to the intelligence of our “esteemed” ministers.

For decades now, the government has been forcing doctors in this country to serve three years of compulsory service before they are given the licence to practice privately. This is on top of the housemanship training which used to be one year long, but was extended to two years in 2008. That means doctors now have to work in government service for a minimum of 5 years.

The housemanship was extended on the pretext of giving the new doctors more time to be learn the ropes, but we all know better. Doctors who complete housemanship do not leave, but have to continue working and training in government hospitals for another 3 years, so the extension of the housemanship is merely a poorly disguised extension of compulsory government service.

That’s apparently not enough. The government is now considering extending the 3 year compulsory service to 5 years or 10 years. Take a look at this news report :


The Government proposes to extend the compulsory public service for doctors to five or 10 years from the current three to overcome the annual shortage of doctors in its hospitals, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator Datuk T. Murugiah said Wednesday.

Last year alone, the country faced a shortage of 5,000 doctors, he added.

“Every year, we face a shortage of doctors because they serve with the Government for only five years — two years on housemanship and three years on compulsory service.

“This system has been in use since 1971 and, as such, we should have a new mechanism to resolve the problem,” he told reporters after a working visit to the Public Service Commission (PSC), here.

Murugiah said the Government’s adoption of the proposal would mean that the doctors would be able to garner more experience before they moved on to the private sector or set up their own practice.

“Doctors should not only think about profit. They also have to think about the country’s interests — your contribution to the country,” he said.

Murugiah said similar measures could also be applied in other disciplines where there was a shortage of personnel such as dentists and pharmacists.

However, he said, this was up to the Health Ministry, Economic Planning Unit (EPU) and the Public Service Department (PSD) to discuss and decide.

He also said that last year, the Government appointed 50,756 civil servants, including candidates for paramedical training, which exceeded the target of 50,000 appointments set by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

A total of 7,785,262 applications were received and 358,366 people were called for interview but only 199,660 turned up for the interviews, he said. — Bernama

If the government extends the compulsory service to just 5 years, then all doctors will be forced to work for the government for at least 7 years before they are allowed to practice privately. If they extend it to 10 years, then they will be forced to work for 12 years.

Put yourself in their shoes. Would you want to be a doctor if you know that you will be FORCED to work for the government for at least 7-12 years? During that time, you will have to be content with a much lower salary, and endure transfers to any place that the government wants you to go.

For non-Bumiputra doctors, you also have to put up with officially-sanctioned discriminatory policies, and lower prospects for promotions. In particular, you will have to live with the fact that you are not allowed to apply for local specialization courses until you have completed your compulsory service.

If the government persists with their plan, it will result in new doctors migrating to other countries where there is no such thing as compulsory service. It will also discourage students from taking up medicine as a career choice.

Unless they intend to pick government service as their career path, there is little incentive for doctors to practice here. They will have to weigh the benefits of practicing here (friends and family roots) against the costs (7-12 years of servitude). I believe the costs will be too prohibitive for many doctors, especially if they are not Bumiputras.

Read more at: