'20 threats on a Sunday - if only hospital directors were as committed in helping us'
Hartal Doktor Kontrak, which is organising a one-day strike tomorrow, said more than 20 threats have been issued in the span of six hours against government contract doctors who are planning to participate in the event.
A representative of the movement, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid government reprisal, said he was mystified by the effectiveness of hospital directors working on a Sunday to thwart the strike which is lobbying for better treatment of contract doctors.
"Within six hours, we got more than 20 threats from almost every director of hospitals and state health departments.
"When we asked for their support for our plight, they all kept silent. But suddenly on a Sunday evening, all of them could activate and work (to stop the strike)," he told Malaysiakini.
This evening, the Health Ministry also shared a guideline on its Facebook page stressing that civil servants are not allowed to participate in "illegal gatherings".
It said this included leaving during office hours to observe or join a gathering.
The representative shared with Malaysiakini showing the same guideline being circulated to contract doctors on Whatsapp to warn them against joining the strike.
He also shared Whatsapp conversations showing hospital directors summoning contract doctors that they suspect will be joining the strike.
This news portal also sighted a notice by the management of Ampang Hospital warning that action will be taken against any staff who joined the strike.
'Strikers may be left out of concessions'
It gave three reasons not to join the strike, namely: (1) gatherings are not allowed during the lockdown, (2) civil servants are not allowed to join illegal gatherings and (3) they will be left out should the government decide to make any concession.
The hospital also instructed all heads of departments to monitor any contract doctors who decide to participate in the strike and to document them.
It also asked to ensure that there are replacements in their absence.
Dr Rafidah Abdullah, a nephrologist at Putrajaya Hospital, threw her support behind the contract doctors even though she is not one.
"Services won't be affected. They won't leave their clinical duties without a replacement. They are professionals but they are not robots. Have a heart and feelings.
"I will be among those who will take over their work," she said on Twitter.
Rafidah also noted that the contract doctors are now being intimidated over the strike.
"In the UK, doctors' strikes are supported by their superiors and the institution. But in Malaysia, they are oppressed and threatened.
"To members of the public, don't worry. Let us support them tomorrow. Those who have to be at the hospital, we wear black yea?" she said.
Perkhidmatan TIDAK akan terjejas. Mereka tidak akan tinggalkan kerja-kerja klinikal tanpa pengganti. Mereka professional; tapi mereka bukan robot. Punya hati dan perasaan.
Saya sendiri akan buat kerja-kerja mereka. Bukankah lebih baik pakar perunding mengambil alih seketika?— Dr. Rafidah Abdullah (@rafidah72) July 25, 2021
The contract doctors are planning a mass walkout at 11am tomorrow but they are to ensure a substitute while they are away and those in critical services will return to their post if the need arises.
Seeking job security
The contract doctors are lobbying for better job security and career prospects.
Government junior contract doctors face the risk of losing their job after the end of their five-year training at government hospitals.
There is a lack of permanent positions at public hospitals due to the government's budgetary constraints.
As a result, many of them have to move to the private sector or continue their specialist training abroad.
On Friday (July 23), the government offered to extend their contracts for up to six years but stopped short of offering permanent positions.
However, it promised to ensure similar perks with permanent doctors.
Hartal Doktor Kontrak described it as "half-cooked", stressing that offering contract extension was not the solution.