Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

It has been a hectic 2 months for me with too many holidays and personal matters to take care of. It has been 8 years since I started blogging and almost everything that I had said and predicted has become a reality. As I had predicted as well, in the end no one takes responsibility and blames each other. IN a typical Malaysia Boleh style, we chase after the numbers and forget about the quality. Many do medicine without being well-informed. Many do medicine without knowing where they are putting their foot into. I had written enough in this blog and even published 2 books to explain all these issues. Despite that, I still get young school leavers who keep asking the same question again and again. I wonder what they are actually learning in schools. Our education system has messed up the student’s brains well enough for most students not to know what the hell is going on in this world. Do you know that most SPM students do not even know who is Abraham Lincoln and why is he famous for? Do you know that they do not know anything about American and European history and history of the World Wars? Ask them who is Mahatma Gandhi! You will be surprised and shocked to the amount of knowledge these students have despite scoring strings of “A”s in their exams! Oh, BTW, according to TITAS textbook which is a compulsory subject for 1st year public university degree program, Mahatma Gandhi is “Tokoh Tamadun India” !! I give up!

With all the hoo-haa that has been going on in KKM regarding the HO issues, one thing for sure is the fact that almost 50% of graduates will not be offered a permanent civil service post after 4 years of compulsory service. Recently, MOH claim they will be introducing a “tagging” for those graduates who are waiting for posting. MOH claim that the waiting period should not be more than 6 months since the introduction of contract post which do not need an interview. However, I am not sure whether they had taken into consideration the increasing number of graduates since 2016 as few more medical schools have started to produce graduates and the final list of recognised medical schools will be out this year when the last few medical schools which started in 2012 becomes recognised by MMC. The number of graduates produced by these universities will subsequently increase over the next few years. Can MOH cope? The answer is obviously NO. One more interesting thing about the “pre housemanship tagging” as proposed by MOH is that it will be done in hospitals without housemen. These hospitals are technically district hospitals without specialist. So, who is going to guide who? Will it become a story of ” blind leading the blind……”? UM has also started a similar program for their own graduates as mentioned HERE but this is done in their hospital

Recently, there was a post in Facebook from a specialist asking a questions on why many doctors are discouraging their children from doing medicine. He claim that despite the increase in litigation, rules and regulation , it is still a noble profession. I do agree it is a noble profession BUT saying that medicine is the only noble profession is wrong. WE must move away from the notion that medicine is the only noble profession in the world. The world has changed. The day a doctor started to charge a fee for service, medicine as a noble profession has died. If you still believe medicine is a noble profession, than you should go back to government service and serve the people. Anyone in private sector cannot claim it is a noble profession as without money, you would not be able to treat a patient. It is a business and nobility takes a back seat or probably not existent. There are so many jobs out there which is also noble. I have an engineering friend of mine who is actively promoting greening of earth and promoting clean environment. Isn’t his job noble? Let’s take Mark Zuckerberg. He created Facebook without charging a single fee to anyone and connected the entire world! Long lost friend became close within seconds! Isn’t what he did noble? What about “Whatsapp” and many other social networking apps which is free? If you say charging a fee for service is noble than a mamak shop which charges a fee for food is also noble as he is providing food to everyone, without which people can die as well. Almost all philanthropist that I know are not doctors. Are they not being noble by donating to charity and foundation to help people? Are they not providing scholarship to needy students to pursue their education? What about teachers? WE should stop saying that we are the only noble profession in this world. A senior consultant friend of mine once told me that Tan Sri T J Danaraj, the founding dean of UM medical faculty once said ” The day  medical education is commercialised and medical practise is commercialised, that’s the day prostitution of medicine starts How true! At the end of the day it is all about money and survival.

Some will say that I will sacrifice my life for humanity and serve mankind till I die. For them, I have the story below:

A Dr graduated to be the best and finest surgeon in the world. At age 30, he got married.
The joy of marrying a surgeon attracted his wife to him.Few weeks after marriage leave he got back to work, thereafter he hardly spent some quality time with his wife.Their relationship began to go sour.

Not that he’s flirting around with other ladies. Not that he now had a bad company. But, at his work place, he was seen as TOO IMPORTANT.Every patient wanted him. The nurses loved him to handle all the surgeries at hand.

One day, he got home very early from work. The wife was glad that he was at least early today. Just as he was dropping his briefcase, his phone rang and the following conversation went on.

Nurse: Sir, we need you now at the hospital. We have an emergency.

He said : I’m on my way.

The wife was angry with him. As usual, he told her, “Sorry”.

This went on for so long.

But one unfortunate day, he had an accident. And….

He died! 

The other doctors and surgeons mourned him. They gave his wife cash to take care of herself.

But, can money replace love? Can some one ‘ replace a whole man?

You know the answer…

Not too long after, the wife went to that same hospital for some check up.

She was shocked to see someone in her husband’s former post. Not only that, she heard someone calling the new surgeon as the best in that town.

She wept bitterly…

Do you know you are replaceable?

Do you know you are NOT too important?

Do you know someone else can do better than what you are doing or what you can do?

Do you know you are cherished now just because you can still perform your right?

Do you know you are celebrated because you are available and useful?

No one’s saying you should not help out. No one’s saying you should not be a celebrity. No one’s saying you should not help others. No one’s saying you should be not punctual


Take time to rest. Take time to relax. Spend time with yourself.

As bitter as those truths, many of you fail to accept that…

Tread softly… Go gently…

Your family Values YOU

Only they miss the presence of you not the rest of the world.


The above story is the reality out there. In the end, family comes first, unless you decide to live a single life till death. No one appreciate what you had done once you are gone. They will talk about you for one day and that’s the story.

Recently, there was another sad story in our neighbouring country(see below).  Dr Leslie Lam’s story is exactly what is happening out there. These are the side effects of “prostitution of medicine”. The day medicine was commercialised, that’s the day patients start seeing doctors as leeches who are out to suck their bloods/money. You could have saved hundreds of life but a single patient can bring you to hell! The number of complains in each hospital is increasing by leaps and bounds and almost always it is about money. They want their money back because their wound got infected! They want their money back because your surgery was not succesful and had complication etc. If you admit your mistake, they sue you to glory. If you don’t admit, they sue you anyway! BTW, I was informed that the patient who was responsible for Dr Leslie’s ordeal is a Malaysian.

The world has changed. Artificial intelligence and technology is taking over a lot of jobs. Medicine will not be spared. What you see in Star Trek and Star Wars is not far away. Skynet is not far away………….

Are these the jobs of the future(below) ?……… You can ponder upon…….

For those who are sitting for SPM 2017, Good Luck and choose wisely…………


Heart doctor Leslie Lam’s ordeal: Three decades to build a name… then ‘gone to bits’

Dr Leslie Lam has been completely cleared of all the allegations made by a patient who claimed the cardiologist performed an unnecessary procedure on him in 2011 for monetary gain.

Leslie Lam, cleared by Court of Three Judges, says his clinic never does things just for money

To this day, he still charges them the same rate of $25 for each consultation. At the same time, he counts among his patients Bruneian royalty who are willing to pay to have him close his Mount Elizabeth clinic for an entire day so that he can attend to them.

“I like to play a bit of Robin Hood,” said the 75-year-old grandfather of three, who has been doing volunteer work in countries such as Myanmar for more than 12 years.

That was why it came as a shock when he learnt in 2012 that a patient had gone to the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) to complain that Dr Lam had performed an unnecessary procedure on him in 2011 for monetary gain.

To Dr Lam, who was completely cleared of all the allegations last Friday, the accusations levelled at him were just “crazy”

After all, his first lesson to medical students doing their internships at his clinic has always been: “You don’t do anything for the patient unless the patient benefits from it.”


Today is one of the best days of my life, because suddenly I feel I’m completely free from this unnecessary complaint.

DR LESLIE LAM, in a phone interview after he was cleared.

Dr Lam, one of the pioneers of coronary angioplasty – a procedure in which a balloon is used to open up blocked heart arteries – said he cannot remember ever doing an unnecessary procedure.

He stressed that he often agreed to requests for discounts from less well-off Singaporean patients.

Registered nurse Siti Sundari, 61, who has been working with Dr Lam since 1988, described him as “kind”.

In 2015, after selling the premises that his clinic – The Cardiac Centre – occupies for $10 million, he distributed 5 per cent of the proceeds to his staff. He now rents the space.

He said the complaint weighed on him, resulting in many sleepless nights. His family said that he even became ill-tempered.

“It took me 30 years to build up a name like this, and (for it) to be just gone to bits over something so small, it’s crazy,” said Dr Lam, whose wife is a general practitioner. They have two daughters – one is a housewife and the other a branding consultancy owner.

Good friends advised him to appeal all the way, telling him that his name was worth everything.

Dr Lam, who has had 17,000 patients under his care, said he had had three full consultations with the patient from Malaysia.

In 2006, the patient had undergone a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) with three stents at Raffles Hospital. PCI is another name for coronary angioplasty.

Then in 2011, the patient consulted Dr Lam for the first time.

Dr Lam recalled that the patient had argued with him, insisting on doing a CT scan even though the specialist told him it was a waste of money because the scan would not capture the lumen, or the inside of the arteries.

Seven days after the CT scan results, the patient returned to Dr Lam and consented to a coronary angiogram – a type of X-ray used to examine blood vessels.

After the angiogram, Dr Lam advised the patient to undergo a PCI with stenting. During the procedure, the first stent slipped, requiring a second stent to be deployed.

Dr Lam said that in hindsight, perhaps he was too honest in telling the patient what had transpired. “If I had not mentioned it, if I had been dishonest, no one would ever see it.”

He revealed that after the procedure, the patient wanted his money back even though his condition improved. Dr Lam had charged the patient $1,500 for the angiogram and $7,500 for the angioplasty, which he said are considered low.

The SMC brought three charges against Dr Lam: leading the patient to believe he needed to undergo the procedure when there was insufficient basis; failing to perform the procedure with skill and care; and failing to obtain informed consent.

The first two major charges were thrown out by a disciplinary tribunal, which was satisfied that Dr Lam had carried out the correct course of action. Last Friday, the Court of Three Judges cleared him of the third charge.

The ordeal has underscored the importance of documentation and keeping good notes, he said. The brochures in his clinic are now more detailed than before, listing all the possible risks and complications.

Dr Lam said he now goes through the list with patients, ticks off each one, signs and then gets the patient to countersign with the date stated.

During the interview after he was cleared, his phone rang non-stop with calls from colleagues and patients. “Today is one of the best days of my life, because suddenly I feel I’m completely free from this unnecessary complaint,” he said.

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Finally, over the last 1 week, a Malay local newspaper had published several articles regarding the issues concerning medical graduates. This is when the blame game starts. Each authority will blame the other and finally no one will take responsibility. Eventually, it will be blamed on the previous administration and probably we need a RCI to investigate this, 10 years down the line!



































Let me put it this way. For years, many in the medical profession had voiced out their concerns regarding medical school’s approval. I first talked about this in 2006 and wrote an article in MMA magazine. Many accused me of over exaggerating. Dato Dr Chua Soi Lek realised it and issued a moratorium in 2005 which was subsequently lifted in 2008 when the new government got elected. NO one did anything! Tons of new medical schools were approved between 2008 and 2011 till the new moratorium was announced in May 2011. By that time, it is too late. Too many schools were already approved which no one can order to be terminated without legal repercussions.

Who gives the approval? Everyone seems to be washing off their dirty hands. All licensing and the need for an educational program is under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Higher Education. This is governed by Private Higher Education Act 1996. MOHE treats medical education as any other educational program. MMC do not have any authority in approving/terminating any medical program.  The role of MMC is only in 2 matters: assisting MQA in accreditation process of a medical program and recognition of a medical degree. Under Medical Act (Amended 2012), MMC is the only authority who can recognise a degree which enables a graduate to be registered as a doctor. Accreditation comes under MQA Act 2007. Only MQA can issue certificate of accreditation. However, for professional programs, under section 51 and 52 of the act, MQA will work with the relevant professional body in recommendation of accreditation of a program. As far as medical program is concerned, MMC will work with MQA in the process of accreditation. A Joint Technical Committee(JTC) is formed under MQA act, consisting of 5 government bodies(headed by MMC Chairman) who will then undertake the accreditation process. The recommendation of the JTC will then be forwarded to MMC for approval at each stage of accreditation.

No where along this line, MMC can either revoke or terminate a program. If at all, they can only advise MQA or MOHE to terminate the program. This advise may or may not be entertained. For example, even the minimum entry requirement suggested by MMC have to be approved by MOHE. When MMC/MOH suggested the minimum entry requirement to be increased to 5As last year, MOHE did not agree and thus it was never implemented! The only other area where MMC is involved is in the allocation of total student intake of each batch. However, JTC allocates the intake based on accreditation guideline. As long as the college can prove the capability of having adequate lecturers(full + part-time + sessional) and facilities , JTC cannot deny the requested number of intake. On what basis can JTC/MMC allocate lower number of student intake? Legally they can’t do that unless during their accreditation process they find that the college is not ready to take the requested number of students. And if finally MMC refuse to recognise a degree, we will see the politicians and parents standing in front of MMC’s office demanding fairness!

This is not the first or the last time we will see such issues. It has happened in almost every field that we know. Unfortunately, no one in our government will take responsibility or commit hara-kiri. It is a culture of “tidak-apa” attitude. No one thinks long-term. It is always a knee jerk reaction. We can talk till the cows come home but no one listens. Their KPI is making the country an Educational Hub to generate income for the country. Who cares whether there are job opportunities or not? Who cares whether our graduate’s qualities are declining or not? As long as we can produce a graduate with a certificate , it is good enough! Numbers more important than quality.

We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg at the moment. When the first batch of contract housemen, which started in December 2016 finishes their 4 years contract in 2020, we will be seeing almost 2000-3000 doctors being released to private sector every year!. This will average out to about 200 doctors/month being jobless! This is assuming that 50% of the graduates will continue in civil service. However, we must also realise that the permanent MO post are also almost full! Can the government create 3000 MO post every year from 2020? Personally I don’t think so. Thus, the number of MOs getting into a permanent post will decline over the years as the number of post declines. So, the actual number of doctors being released into private sector will be much higher than expected. The GP field will be flooded……..If even now, clinics are closing, what more in next few years. The entire health care structure has to change to accommodate this tsunami.

One of my friend told me the other day that I probably had a crystal ball in my house. Another friend told me that it is scary to see whatever I predicted happening right in front of our eyes. Well, I did not have any crystal ball and I am no Nostradamus. It is just simple mathematics and statistics. Something that we learn in school. Unfortunately, some people never use their brains when they do something for this country. Once a mess is created, it is difficult to turn back. History teaches us that. But then, who learns the real world history anymore? Our school history books have become a political propaganda book rather that teaching the future generations what we can learn from world History!

God Bless this country…………







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It has been a while since I updated my blog. Too many events and personal issues to settle along the way. However, the medical field in Malaysia is undergoing some new changes since early this year. It started with the contract HO post and multiple complaints in the news regarding the delay in housemanship posting etc. In May 2017, MOH announced that ozone therapy is banned from July 2017! Beauty centres are also being monitored for providing unlicensed beauty treatments. Sadly, there are many doctors who are providing such services to beauty centres. Since beauticians can’t inject any substance into a person, they need doctors. Doctors/Paramedics are the only one licensed to inject substance into a person. Drugs under poison act can only be administered by a doctor. As I had always said, in the end it is all about money and survival. There are many GPs who are struggling to cope with rising cost of running a medical business and turn to aesthetic medicine. While there are guidelines issued by KKM in practising aesthetic medicine, the enforcement is rather weak. BUT always remember that whenever you go to a beauty centre to do a procedure, it is ILLEGAL if the centre is NOT registered under your APC as a place of practise. Furthermore, any centre that are using medical equipments and drugs MUST be registered under Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998. If not, you will end up like this doctor in court!

As of July 2017, as I had mentioned in one of my earlier post, MMC will be corporatised. The Medical Act(Amendment 2012) will come into force after almost 5 years being passed by Parliament. I have been waiting for this amendment to take place as it will put certain rules and regulations in place. The regulation can be read over HERE. 

The 2 most important new rules that will affect everyone will be the specialist registration and APC renewal. Firstly, APC renewal from 2020 will be limited to those who have at least 20 CPD points/year and an indemnity insurance. Indemnity insurance will become mandatory for APC renewal. I was informed that the CPD collection will start officially from July 2018 till June 2019, most likely under MMA and Academy of Medicine. MMA is working hard to standardised everything with a phone app being developed. Once you have the points, you can apply for APC 2020 after June 2019. For those budding doctors who do not know what APC is, it is your ANNUAL PRACTISING CERTIFICATE. Without APC, you can’t practise clinical medicine. I know many GPs who do not have indemnity insurance. With this new rule, every doctor must have an indemnity insurance in order to practise medicine. Please visit MMA website for further information regarding indemnity insurance.

Secondly, the specialist register had been made mandatory under the law. The National Specialist Register (NSR) was first introduced in 2006 by the Academy of Medicine. This was in anticipation of the amendment to medical act 1971 which suppose to be tabled in Parliament in 2008. Unfortunately, with election along the way, it was delayed till 2012. Thus, it was optional and voluntary till 1/07/2017. From 1st July 2017, all specialist must be registered with NSR which will be handled by MMC, from now onwards. If your name do not appear in NSR, you CAN’T call yourself a specialist. If you continue to call yourself as a specialist, disciplinary action will be taken against you by MMC which includes suspension and fine.  For those who have not registered, please do so by end of this year. From 1/01/2018, your name must appear in NSR in order to call yourself a specialist. NSR must be renewed every 5 years with a minimal CPD point of 100 in total. This applies for government specialist as well.

Another issue that is of concern are the fees that need to be paid. Since MMC will be corporatised, they have to generate their own revenue on top of MOH grant. Thus, as expected, fees will be increased. The APC renewal fee will be increased to RM 100/year from RM 50. This is not really a big increase as the RM 50 has been around since 197os. However, civil servants who were previously exempted from paying this fee will now need to pay themselves. The DG had issued a circular to all hospitals that all civil servants must pay the APC fee from 2018 onwards. This was followed by circulars by hospitals that all APC fee must be paid by the respective doctors directly to MMC and cannot be claimed(tidak boleh dituntut):






This also includes the Specialist registration fee of RM 1500 every 5 years. Please be informed that all specialist in MOH must also register with NSR by end of this year. If not, legally you can’t call yourself a specialist! Another issue you must understand is that gazettement by MOH is not the same as NSR registration. NSR has it’s on guideline on registration of specialist. For example, you can only get NSR registration after 1 year of post qualification working experience for internal medicine related field and 2 years for surgical related field:

Effective January 2017, applicants must have at least ONE (1) year post qualification working experience for medical related specialties/fields of practice and at least TWO (2) years for surgical related specialties/fields of practice.”

This basically means, for those who finish Master’s, you are NOT a specialist after 6 months of gazettement as far as NSR is concerned! I hope KKM and MMC can streamline these requirements so that no confusion arises. Another interesting figure in the new fee structure is the Certificate of Good Standing(CGS) and translated documents fee! It use to be FREE but it will cost you RM 500 for CGS and RM 200 for translated documents! As far as I know, each CGS is only valid for 3 months! You will need this if you intend to do training overseas or migrating!


There is another interesting development in terms of compulsory service.Till 2008, we had 4 years compulsory service, which included 1 year housemanship. In 2008 when housemanship was made into 2 years, the compulsory service was reduced from 3 years to 2 years post housemanship. The total was still 4 years. We all know that what I had predicted many years ago had come true. Job is no more guaranteed in civil service. Housemanship is given under contract for a maximum of 3 years after which you will be given contract just to finish your compulsory service. Only about 50% of those who are completing housemanship will be given permanent post. How this selection will be done is being ironed out. So, what happens to those who are returning from overseas after completing their housemanship overseas? Firstly, your housemanship must be recognised by MMC. NOT all housemanship outside Malaysia is recognised by MMC. Secondly, you may need to do certain postings which you did not do overseas before being given full MMC registration. The question now is , would you be able to get a job in MOH ?

To “overcome” this issue, DG has issued a new circular dated 6/07/2017 which is rather interesting. If you are a self sponsored student from overseas and have done at least 2 years of clinical practise post housemanship in a recognised country, you can be exempted from the 2 years compulsory service. If you are returning from overseas and are eligible for full registration from MMC without any need for additional training AND unable to get a job in MOH within 6 months, you are EXEMPTED from compulsory service! This is going to open another can of worms! This basically means you will be able to open a GP clinic immediately, under trained and flooding the market with GPs. This also means that if you do not get a job in MOH, you have practically no chance of specialising in any field except the Family medicine program under AFPM. So, if you are returning from overseas assuming to continue your post-graduate training in Malaysia, you may be in for a surprise! It is another way of saying, sayonara! We will be having almost 5-6000 graduates by next year waiting for housemanship alone! Imagine how many will be waiting for MOship locally alone!

Compulsory Service Exemption Request Form




(source: Deputy DG presentation at MMI conference)


For those who do not have minimum entry requirement, please be aware that you may not be considered for housemanship at all! It is in the pipeline. Well, if only they had listened to all those who voiced out their concerns almost 10 years ago, we will not be in this situation! We are very well-known for creating a problem and then trying to solve it, by creating more problems! No one plans for long-term. Everyone thinks with a knee jerk reaction!

Happy 60th Merdeka Day……..





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Just 6 days ago I wrote on the issue of SPM BM in regards to appointment into civil service. Just after the issue was publicised by the newspaper, it became a hot issue of discussion on TV. For at least 2 days following the news report, both RTM and TV3 were having a field day condemning the decision to exempt medical grads from SPM BM requirement. All the political heroes and defenders of the country suddenly appeared from nowhere. Well, election is coming……

In my last article, I wrote clearly the historical events over the last 20 years in regards to the need for SPM BM to join civil service. I also wrote on how the opening of enrolment into international schools had led to another big issue that we are facing now. However, the original intention of the news article reported by TheStar was actually in regards to the need to sit for 6 SPM papers and the inability to sit for a single SPM BM paper. Unfortunately, it was blown out of proportion by various quarters leading to a cabinet discussion of the matter.

Yesterday, the cabinet had decided that SPM BM is now needed even for contract post! This basically means, for those who had graduated but do not have SPM BM, you are now required to sit and pass SPM BM paper before even being eligible to apply for housemanship post. This will only further delay your posting. As it is, graduates are already waiting close to 8-12 months, those affected students would probably have to wait for 2 years now! So, for those who are currently still an undergraduate student, please sit for SPM BM as soon as possible. You just need a pass! The only good news is that you don’t need to sit for 6 papers anymore.

As I had always said, when the number of post becomes limited (admitted by DPM himself), the government can pick and choose. This is just the first step. For those who are doing medicine without the minimum entry requirement or NOC since 2012, please be prepared to be next in line. The government don’t give a damn whether you are a medical grad or not. No special privileges will be given.


Pass SPM Bahasa and be in civil service, medical grads told

PUTRAJAYA: Medical graduates must pass the SPM-level Bahasa Malaysia (BM) paper to be appointed as contract-based doctors in public hospitals.

However, these contract doctors will not be required to take the six core SPM subjects – Bahasa Malaysia, English, History, Mathematics, Science and Moral or Islam Studies – to be in the civil service.

Once they pass the examination, they can serve as housemen in government hospitals.

Contract-based doctors are those undergoing housemanship as well as those on compulsory service.

 Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the matter had been clarified by the Education Minister at the weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday.

“The Cabinet was told that the Malaysian Examinations Syndicate allows for professionals to take a single paper. So these graduates can take their Bahasa paper in November and then apply for housemanship,” he said.

Last week, The Star reported that some 300 medical graduates with O-Levels qualifications would be required to take the SPM-level BM to be accepted into housemanship.

Making it clear: Dr Ahmad Zahid explaining the ruling for contract doctors to the media at his office in Putrajaya.

Making it clear: Dr Ahmad Zahid explaining the ruling for contract doctors to the media at his office in Putrajaya.

A medical graduate said that they were given a waiver for SPM BM from 2003 when the country did not have enough doctors but the waiver was suddenly removed this year without adequate notice.

Before the waiver was withdrawn, O-Levels BM or Bahasa Kebangsaan A was accepted.

Following their plight, the ministry asked the Public Service Department (PSD) to waive the SPM-level BM pass requirement for contract staff and in February, the PSD agreed to the request. But they still need the SPM-level BM for permanent posts.

However, some medical graduates in Selangor said they could not register for only the BM subject but had to register for all six core SPM subjects at the state Education Department, while those from some other states were required to take only BM and History.

On Sunday, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said on his website that a waiver was given on the SPM-level BM for contract-based doctors (two years of housemanship and two years of compulsory service) but not for permanent posts.

Dr Ahmad Zahid said the Cabinet decided that SPM-level pass for Bahasa Malaysia would remain a requirement for those who wanted to work with the civil service.

“We are committed to uphold what is stated in the Federal Constitution when it comes to the issue of the national language,” he told a press conference.

Dr Ahmad Zahid said that apart from the Health Ministry, no other ministry, department or agency had relaxed the ruling.

But at one point, the Health Ministry needed doctors, so this exemption was made. Now, the Cabinet wants the requirement to be maintained,” he added.

He also pointed out that only 23 medical graduates were given the exemption and not “300 or 3,000 as reported”.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the requirement for contract medical officers, including contract-based doctors, to sit for the SPM-level BM paper was re-introduced last December because of the current flood of medical graduates.

Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/07/06/pass-spm-bahasa-and-be-in-civil-service-medical-grads-told/#sEXLrVQ65GovGxtz.99



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So, finally the issue of BM is out in the open. Today, TheStar published several articles regarding this. Over the years, I have been constantly informing everyone who was intending to do medicine that they need to make sure that they have sat and got at least a credit in SPM BM paper. 30 years ago, this was never an issue because almost all went through the same education system. SPM BM is a mandatory requirement to be appointed into civil service. Housemanship can only be done in civil service.

In the 80s and 90s, even up to early 2000s, other than some who studied in Singapore, almost everyone completed their secondary education till SPM before leaving the country, doing PreU or entering university. Thus, almost everyone had done SPM BM. I know some friends who studied in Singapore and did not have SPM BM but were given contract civil service post. During this contract post, they are required to sit and pass SPM BM paper(usually July paper). Only after passing SPM BM paper, the post is confirmed and converted to permanent post. This new dilemma that we are in currently, started in mid 2000.

Up to 2004, International schools are only limited to foreigners/expats or to families where at least 1 parent is a foreigner. This is the same in almost all countries including Singapore. IN 2004, the then new PM Tun Abdullah Badawi announced 30% quota of international school enrolments to locals. This quota was immediately taken up and the demand increased. Just 2 years later, the government allowed 100% enrollment of international schools to locals. This caused mushrooming of International schools in Malaysia. Rich parents were sending their children to these schools in droves, to the extend some had to enrol at least 3 years earlier for a place to be confirmed. When I came to JB in 1999, there were only 2 international schools catering to Japanese and Korean expats. Now, I lost count of the number of international schools in JB, all in just 10 years!

These international schools have now created a new issue. The students do not sit for SPM or SPM BM paper. These very same students are also rich enough to enrol themselves into private medical schools. SPM BM is not a requirement to enrol into private universities. These naive students or even their parents do not understand how complex the field of medicine is.

IN 2004, our Minister of Health Dato Dr Chua Soi Lek manage to convince the government to exempt medical graduates from SPM BM requirement for permanent civil service post. They were absorbed directly into permanent civil service with a special communication BM paper being conducted by MOH itself. Once they clear this paper, they will be confirmed in service. Unfortunately, the situation has changed. At that time there were abundant number of post which were vacant. The government changed the rule to encourage Malaysian doctors to return home from overseas. However, we now have more bodies than post. Being employed in civil service is a privilege. The government is NOT obliged to provide job to everyone. Thus by end of 2014, SPA reintroduced the need for SPM BM for civil service appointment.

Early this year, I was informed by 2 parent that MOE had introduced yet another new rule. You can’t sit for SPM BM alone but need to sit for the entire SPM papers which include at least 6 subjects. Only then, a certificate will be issued. However, I could not find a circular regarding this issue. I did make some comments regarding this when some students made some queries. But now it is out in the open with the news today.

Since Housemanship is being given under contract from December 2016, technically SPM BM is NOT necessary as mentioned by MOH today. However, be informed that in order for you to be eligible for a permanent post after your contract compulsory service ends, you will need SPM BM!! So whatever it is, SPM BM is still mandatory unless you intend to open a clinic after your 4 years compulsory service. In my last post, I did mention that ONLY 50% of contract officers will be absorbed into permanent post and continued in civil service. So, if you do not have SPM BM, you might as well forget about continuing in government service. Be also informed that specialist training can only be done in government service.

Many people argue about the basis of this requirement. We must understand that we are in Malaysia. Our national language is BM. Thus, to be eligible for civil service, SPM BM is made mandatory. What they need is just a credit or at least a pass. It is the same in any other countries as well. In almost all English-speaking countries, IELTS is mandatory for even registration or work permit application. In Australia, you need a minimum of 7 in all parts of IELTS to be eligible for Medical Board registration. At least in Malaysia, you only need SPM BM for civil service appointment. Imagine if that was the case for even MMC registration!! IN some non-english speaking countries, you also need to sit and pass their national language test to even enroll into their universities.

I know some students from international schools who can’t even speak a sentence in Malay. How are they going to clerk a patient or even understand what the patient is saying? O level BM paper is way inferior to SPM BM, I was told. That’s probably the reason why JPA do not want to recognise it as equivalent anymore. To make everything equal (as what people always want) , only SPM BM is acceptable now.

I feel all this started due to poor planning. Nothing new, as far as our government policies are concerned. The class division of education system, mushrooming of medical schools and lack of post, contributed to all these mess. The mandatory need for SPM BM should have been told to ALL aspiring medical students before they even enter our private medical colleges. NO medical schools will inform you that, as they need students!

As far as I am concerned, you can’t run away from the need for SPM BM to be appointed into civil service. That will not change since they have the liberty to pick and choose now. For those who are from International schools, please sit for the exam while you are in medical school. However, asking the students to sit for minimum 6 subjects is atrocious. They should allow the student to sit for individual papers.

 Medical grads told to sit for six core SPM subjects and pass BM to get cert

PETALING JAYA: Some medical graduates are frustrated that they need to “go back to school” after being told that they must have Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia-level Bahasa Malaysia to be accepted into permanent government posts.

No more exemptions would be given and some graduates said they were told to register for six core SPM subjects in order to get the BM certificate if they want the posts.

A source said about 300 graduates were affected since the change came into effect on Jan 1. They were from private institutions and waiting for housemanship placements.

Previously, O-Level BM or Bahasa Kebangsaan A (BKA) qualifications were accepted for entry into public service but from this year, those with such qualifications were rejected, according to the affected students.

 A graduate, who declined to be named, said he submitted his application for housemanship to the Public Service Commission (PSC) a month after he graduated last August, and after obtaining clearance from the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC), his application was accepted.

But in December, he was told by a PSC officer that he did not pass the screening process to be interviewed for housemanship acceptance because he did not possess “SPM-level Bahasa Melayu or its equivalent” as per the JPA 1/2016 circular.

“The PSC officer told me that the BKA paper I took for my foundation studies was previously accepted as an alternative to SPM BM for public service, but not from January onwards,” he said.

To ease the situation, he said the PSC later relaxed the requirement for medical graduates so that they did not need SPM-level BM for contract jobs – only for permanent posts.

However, when he tried to sign up for the BM examination at the Selangor Education Department, he was told he could not get a certificate for SPM-level BM unless he took six core subjects and passed BM and History.

The other subjects he has to take besides those two are Mathe­matics, English, Science and Moral studies.

The graduates feel it’s like asking them to go back to secondary school.

“This sudden change is very frustrating,” he said, adding that this was in addition to waiting nine long months for housemanship placement since he submitted his application in September.

Another medical graduate who graduated in July last year said MMC and PSC had considered her qualifications complete in August but in December, a friend told her that they would not be able to get an interview with PSC because they did not have SPM BM.

“I called PSC to check and it was true. I asked why they didn’t tell me earlier and they said they did not know things would change,” said the graduate, who declined to be named.

According to an e-mail reply from the Health Ministry, the rule for having SPM BM to enter public service as housemen was relaxed from 2003 and O-Level BM was accepted but the exemption was removed from 2017, she said.

“If there are too many graduates and they want to restrict the numbers, they should plan ahead. We were not given notice,” she added.

A final-year medical student with O-Level BM studying in a private university said that after hearing how some of her seniors could not enter public service without SPM BM or its equivalent, she decided to sit for SPM-level BM.

However, her mother – who went to help her register for the examination – was told by the Selangor Education Department counter staff that her daughter had to sign up for the six core subjects because she had not taken the SPM before.

“I have a lot to learn (as) I am in my final year of medical studies,” she said.

When contacted, the PSC said it was only observing the requirement set by the Public Service Department (PSD) which, in turn, said it was only implementing the decision made by the Health Ministry.

The PSD said in an e-mail reply that from Oct 1 last year, the appointment of UD41-grade housemen had been carried out on a contract basis. This was to enable graduates who meet housemanship requirements, but did not have an SPM-level BM pass, to serve in order to get a full registration certificate as medical officers.

However, SPM BM is required if the candidates want to apply for permanent posts, the PSD said.

Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/07/01/upset-over-back-to-school-policy-medical-grads-told-to-sit-for-six-core-spm-subjects-and-pass-bm-to/#QPVX0U8Y6L3SqF5g.99


Health Ministry confirms it has waived SPM-level BM requirement

PETALING JAYA: The SPM-level Bahasa Malaysia requirement for medical graduates to be appointed for contract-based housemanship as well as compulsory service has been waived, the Health Ministry said.

According to the ministry, the Malaysian Examinations Syndicate also said that the graduates could sit for the SPM BM paper alone through special approval from the director of the syndicate.

This, however, was not what the affected graduates were told when they went to register for the paper, as some were told that they had to sit for six SPM core subjects: BM, History, Science, Maths, English and Moral studies.

The ministry said it had asked the Public Service Department (PSD) to waive the SPM-level BM pass requirement for the contract staff and in February, the PSD had agreed to the request.

 “However, the requirement (for an SPM-level BM certificate) must be fulfilled prior to their permanent appointments in the public service,” it said on the issue of O-Level medical graduates who claimed that they could no longer get permanent public posts with the Malaysian Qualifica­tions Agency’s Bahasa Kebangsaan A qualification.

One of the entry requirements for medical graduates to be appointed to public service is an SPM or equivalent pass in BM. Article 152 of the Federal Constitution and National Language Acts 1963/67 also required that Bahasa Melayu, as the national language, be used for all official purposes, the ministry said.

“Currently, Bahasa Melayu at ‘O’ or ‘A’ level or any other similar examinations are not considered equivalent to SPM by PSD.

“However, due to complaints from medical graduates regarding the changes in government policy (the appointment of new medical officers from a permanent to a contractual basis), discussions were held to resolve this issue,” the ministry said.

Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/07/01/health-ministry-confirms-it-has-waived-spmlevel-bm-requirement/#FSgLGbGXgg1pj8Ch.99

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A year ago, I wrote an article about unscrupulous agents recruiting students to universities in Russia, Indonesia, Egypt etc. It is a guaranteed seat with just 6 month’s foundation program. SPM results DO NOT matter! You can even FAIL SPM but you are guaranteed a seat! I wrote the article after it was widely discussed in The Star. How low has medicine gone! Everyone is trying to make money at society’s obsession and ignorance. Do you think the agents had stopped doing this? The answer is NO. Every now and then I am still hearing unqualified students being recruited by these agents to overseas universities. They even tell these students that as long as you have a recognised degree, your job is guaranteed!

Few weeks ago, I received the following comment in my blog:

Dear Dr, I wanted to ask that my bro has failed his SPM (None of the science subjects got B4) and STPM (Pointer 1.67) but he still wanted to do medicine. He was then met the agency XXXXX and was told by the doctors from that agency that he could do medicine with that result by going through a 4 months foundation programme at XXX college to modify his pre-U result to be eligible for application in Russia medical uni. I read through the minimal requirement at MMC website that the candidates must at least got B4 for Maths, Add Math, Biology, Physics and Chemistry in order to be qualified to study medicine, but the agent convinced my friend that they could help him get his NOC even though he didn’t retake SPM. Is that true? He already studying his 1st year at Russia without any obstacles. He didn’t have B4 for his science subjects and only with that “fake?” pre-U result“.

So, it looks like the agents are still active and actively recruiting students who do not meet the minimum entry requirement. The Minimum entry requirement was introduced in May 2011. Prior to that, as long as you complete a recognised medical degree, MMC is legally bound to give you Provisional Registration and SPA/MOH is bound to provide you with a job. Furthermore, up to about 3-4 years ago, there were enough post for all graduates. Unfortunately, the situation has changed. Everyone should be aware now that the waiting time for housemanship is almost 8 months. Even graduates from June 2016 are yet to receive their appointment letter. Also not to forget that it is on contract basis since October 2016.

Since last year, MMC only provides you with a provisional registration once your job is confirmed. SPM results were also made mandatory when you apply for Provisional Registration and SPA application. The job of filtering the candidates has been given to SPA. Minister of Health did mention last year that those who do medicine without minimum requirement may not be considered for a job. Since the minimum entry requirement was only released in May 2011, we should be seeing unqualified graduates starting from this year onwards. So, SPA has every right not to entertain job application from those who do not qualify to do medicine. When you have more bodies than posts, job becomes a privilege and the government can pick and choose.

Few days ago, I received the following email:

I am xxxx, 27 years old and a 4th year medical student of a medical university in Russia. I’ve been reading through your blog since couple of years, and I love reading all your current update regarding future doctors and what about it..
At the end of my SPM in 2007, I didn’t get good grades. My science subjects were D in biology and physics. I didn’t even get the chance to study in matriculation due to my ridiculous spm results. I did try appeal to the ministry for a seat in matriculation by sending letters for several times and got rejected as well..
and yes, my ambition is to become a doctor. Of course not because of the salary but because I love doing it. It’s always been my passion. I came to a private university to study foundation in science but in the end my results were not good which is 2.7cgpa.. Then i decided to took bachelor of medical science which i was not finish because in 2013 I found an agent which can help to study medicine in Russia (country which i am currently studying at now) with few others student..
Years had passed.. I’ve heard so many updates regarding on the future of medical career.. Some says that you can’t get NOC (a certificate which certify our degree for working place in Malaysia) if you get even C in your SPM.. thus they won’t let you work as a HO.. some waited for years long to get a seat into HO.. However, what I am concern is because of my ridiculous result. I am now hanging on my thoughts, in a very sad way whether or not to stay.. or leave and do other course..? I’ve beginning to felt burden on my back, while broken hearted from inside. This is a very crucial time for me, as time won’t wait for human…”

Again, another unqualified students being duped by unscrupulous agents into medicine. When will this stop? The problem is what the agents are doing is not an offence under any law! They only promise you a seat and never said that it is legal and job is guaranteed! Malaysian law /requirement is not valid outside Malaysia. Once they get you a sit, it is no more their problem. You have to shoulder the burden of whatever comes after. I would rather blame it on the ignorant and uninformed society that we have. The society still believe that by hook or crook, they must make their children a doctor because it is a guaranteed job, good money and good life. NO one talks about what the job is all about! You are dealing with lives! NO matter what people say, to do medicine you need certain level of intelligence and competency. In most developed countries, you need to be the top 2-5 % of students in Pre-university. Remember what I wrote in February 2014? That’s why MOE introduced NOC about 10 years ago when they noticed unqualified students doing medicine overseas. Unfortunately, it is also not legally binding. However, with limited number of post now, NOC will become a requirement in job application. So, for those who are currently doing medicine since 2011 and do not have the minimum entry requirement, please be prepared for the worst. Furthermore, NOC should be applied and received before you start your medical education and NOT after you graduate! At one point there we even reports that agents are faking SPM results to get the NOC! I would suggest to those students who are being recruited by these agents, please report them to MQA/MOE and MMC. You can email the particulars to these agencies.

Well, a lot of sad incidences are happening in this country. Two young chaps being bullied and murdered by youngsters?. The society seems to be going backwards rather than forward. It is becoming a decaying society. We have patients who scream and do not hesitate to hit a health care staff, including doctors/specialist! The number of medico-legal cases are going up by leaps and bounds. Doctors are rapidly loosing all the respect they once had from the society. Just look at the drivers on the road nowadays! Totally disrespectful and “do not care” attitude. Are we really heading to a developed country status or are we going to the dungeons? Frankly, I would blame the education system and the leaders we have. Our education system is creating students who do not know what is happening in this world! They seem to be living in a cave, shielded from what is happening outside. General knowledge is becoming a rarity. Just because they get As in all subjects, they think they know everything. The world is changing rapidly but our students and youngsters are still living in dreamland. Try talking to a SPM leaver or even a graduate and you will know the answer. Only a minority knows what is happening out there.

A messed up education system due to politics. A society which is decaying day by day. A beautiful country destroyed by racial and religious politics. Where are you heading , Malaysia……….?  Probably this comment by Tun Musa Hitam may enlighten the readers……


Selamat Hari Raya to all my Muslim readers and friends…………..have a safe journey

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Due to higher than expected sale of my books during last month’s sale, I will be extending the sale below till end of June 2017 (after raya). Those who are still eager to buy and read these books which has full of information for budding doctors, please get it as soon as possible.

Since September 2016, these books are available at Kinukuniya and selected MPH bookstores. It is also available at MPH Online, Kinokuniya Online and Google Play Store(soft copy)You can also visit http://www.hardtruthsofbeingadoctor.com if you wish to buy using credit card/pay pal. Or for those who have paypal account, you can pay to my paypal account pagal72@gmail.com.

AND, to celebrate my 1st year anniversary of launching my first set of books, for a limited time ONLY, I will be selling the books(a set of both volumes) for RM 85(including courier within Malaysia) till end of May 2017(extended till JUNE 2017). For those who have NOT purchased these books, this is the best time you can buy it cheaper than the bookstores, directly from me. Each Book will be personally signed by me. Please see below on how to purchase the books.

These books are meant for budding doctors, parents, medical students and even junior doctors. Despite all the articles in this blog, I keep being asked the same questions repeatedly. Thus I thought of compiling everything into a book. Unfortunately, due to high volume of the book, it has to be divided into 2 books of about 250 pages each. Foreword is written by A/Prof Wong Yin Onn from Monash Malaysia. Here are the titles:




Please be informed that there are many updated information in these books compared to some of my old articles. Information about income, salary, post-graduate educations etc have been updated. There are 5 chapters in Book 1 and 4 chapters in Book 2 with the following titles:

Book 1:

  1. General Misconception of Being a Doctor
  2. General Information for budding doctors
  3. Malaysian Healthcare system for Dummies
  4. Housemanship, Medical Officer and Post Graduate Education in Malaysia
  5. Employment and Job Opportunities

Book 2:

  1. Housemanship
  2. Post Graduate Training
  3. Income of Doctors
  4. The Doctor’s Dilemma

These books will be sold as a set of 2 books , purchased directly from me.

This is how you can order your copy:

  1. Make a payment of RM 85 (including postage within Malaysia) to CIMB Bank Account No: 8006158099 (Pagalavan Letchumanan)
  2. Send your Bank-In Slip to email hardtruths2016@gmail.com with your name and address/particulars
  3. Give me 1-2 days to courier the books.
  4. Courier tracking number and invoice will be sent to you via email after it has been mailed.
  5. An Invoice will be provided for Tax purposes
  6. For those who are ordering from overseas, please email me first as I need to check on courier charges.

Hope everyone will enjoy reading this, one of its kind book in Malaysia……………

For those SPM leavers, this is the time to grab the books………..

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After my last post on the above topic in January 2017, I had updated several more information along the way. Over the last 2 weeks, I had few comments in this blog about the delay in SPA releasing the names of those who can start their housemanship, despite attending the interview in February 2017. I was told that these graduates have been waiting since last year, almost 6-8 months. Subsequently, even an opposition parliamentarian brought up the issue to the press.

Let me put it this way. No one is obliged to provide you with a job, period! The government is not obliged to provide everyone a job. The fact is, you must thank your lucky stars for being offered a contract housemanship job to at least get the full registration to practise as a doctor. That is the fact! Graduates should stop thinking that the government owe them a job. NO government owes anyone a job. Of course, our government has already messed it up to glory. Don’t expect anything to change. How the government is going to give you a job when they got no money to even create new post?

I noticed that many parents were upset that the interview results were not out, even after 2 months. The problem is not inefficiency of SPA BUT lack of post. Despite housemanship post being given under contract, the government can’t be creating new post as they like. It has its financial implications. Furthermore, how many housemen a hospital can take is limited by the number of beds and number of consultants. This is decided by MMC and MOH. There is NO such thing as unlimited number of HO post in any hospitals. Remember: it is a TRAINING and NOT simply a job.

I was made to understand that there were almost 3000 applicants with only about 1000 post to offer. Finally, the names of graduates who succeeded were announced few days ago. Those who did not get a job this time around were asked to wait till July or August as per email below:


Today, someone wrote this letter (attached below) to the Star. The writer has a point as to the dates of future intakes. At least by knowing when is the next intake, they can plan their lives. However, our government never works that way. A lot of meetings are called on ad-hoc basis. Even up to today, we are called for a meeting with a letter faxed to us 1 day before the meeting!! How are we suppose to close the clinic and come to the meeting ? Most people are sick and tired of telling this to the higher authorities for years. I never saw any changes since I left government service 11 years ago. NOTHING has changed.

So, the students can have high hopes of anything to change. ON the other hand, SPA interviews are not actually testing your medical knowledge. It is more about attitude, your presentations and manner. Remember: it is a job interview! The way you talk and carry yourself is important. IN any job interviews, not everyone will get a job. The same situation applies here. Graduates must not forget that jobs are never guaranteed. As for transparency, that is not something that is in our government system’s dictionary. So, you can forget about knowing why you failed. It is their right to choose who they want. It is a privilege and not a must. This is why I said that letters like this will be flying all over the place in years to come. Wait till those who finish their contract housemanship and apply for permanent post. A lot more letters will be flying.

Whether you like it or not, you just have to wait. The waiting period will only get longer as more and more graduates begin to appear starting from this year. You may even end up waiting for 1-2 years. And for those budding medical students: DO NOT get carried away with some universities claiming that their graduates are getting housemanship earlier than others! Total rubbish. They are just marketing themselves. 5 Years down the line, they will disavow any knowledge of making such statement or they will say, time has changed! Don’t get fooled. There are enough medical schools who are misleading students by claiming internationally recognised degree etc. Do your home work!

The more graduates make such noise against the government, the more likely a common entry exam is coming. Once a common entry exam becomes compulsory, no one can complain when they fail the exams and don’t get a job. Trust me, this is my next prediction. Talks are taking place again despite being shot down by cabinet in 2011.

Well, welcome to Bolehland. No one listens and no one will listen……………….

 Happy Labour day………..

Medical graduates want clarity and certainty

HUNDREDS of medical graduates heaved a sigh of relief when they were called up by the Public Service Commission (PSC) last Friday, but thousands more remain in a limbo over the status of their application. Sadly, those who were not accepted were not given a proper reason, apart from being told they did not ‘rank’ as high as their peers during the interview session.

Desperate medical graduates have taken the initiative to call for updates with regards to the intake for housemanship from the PSC.

Unfortunately, most of our queries were responded to unprofessionally or many of us were told dismissively that the next intake would commence in July or August, provided vacancies are available.

A lack of clarity from the PSC engenders uncertainty among the graduates. The non-availability of the date of the next intake of housemen on the PSC website makes it difficult for graduates to plan for the future. Many who opt to work are unable to sign long-term contracts, fearing they may be called into the service at short notice.

 We miss golden opportunities to hone our skills be it medical or otherwise, due to the lack of a structured plan from PSC. Clarity in knowing the exact dates as early as possible would keep medical graduates motivated, and prepared for the upcoming housemanship as we would be able to plan and confirm our attendance at housemanship courses.

An opaque system with no attempt from the relevant authorities to correct it serves only to heighten confusion and frustration among medical graduates.

While messages through the Whatsapp grapevine have been rife with news from individuals claiming to have information after they called the PSC, no official information has been forthcoming to assuage the anxiety in these graduates.

The interview process is questionable by itself. Questions posed to medical graduates were not standardised, with many interviewees not tested on their medical knowledge.

How can medical graduates be compared and ranked against one another when the barometers used were not uniform across the board?

We look to the PSC as the agency that should be the pinnacle of civil service efficiency and transparency. Instead, what we see is its inefficiency and opacity.


Johor Baru


Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/letters/2017/04/29/medical-graduates-want-clarity-and-certainty/#tOfD6vmOAy0h4Xb7.99

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Time flies…… I did not even realise that it has been 1 year since I launched my first set of books. The sale of my books has been quite encouraging without any major promotion. Since September 2016, these books are available at Kinukuniya and selected MPH bookstores. It is also available at MPH Online, Kinokuniya Online and Google Play Store(soft copy)You can also visit http://www.hardtruthsofbeingadoctor.com if you wish to buy using credit card/pay pal.

AND, to celebrate my 1st year anniversary of launching my first set of books, for a limited time ONLY, I will be selling the books(a set of both volumes) for RM 85(including courier within Malaysia) till end of May 2017. For those who have NOT purchased these books, this is the best time you can buy it cheaper than the bookstores, directly from me. Each Book will be personally signed by me. Please see below on how to purchase the books.

These books are meant for budding doctors, parents, medical students and even junior doctors. Despite all the articles in this blog, I keep being asked the same questions repeatedly. Thus I thought of compiling everything into a book. Unfortunately, due to high volume of the book, it has to be divided into 2 books of about 250 pages each. Foreword is written by A/Prof Wong Yin Onn from Monash Malaysia. Here are the titles:




Please be informed that there are many updated information in these books compared to some of my old articles. Information about income, salary, post-graduate educations etc have been updated. There are 5 chapters in Book 1 and 4 chapters in Book 2 with the following titles:

Book 1:

  1. General Misconception of Being a Doctor
  2. General Information for budding doctors
  3. Malaysian Healthcare system for Dummies
  4. Housemanship, Medical Officer and Post Graduate Education in Malaysia
  5. Employment and Job Opportunities

Book 2:

  1. Housemanship
  2. Post Graduate Training
  3. Income of Doctors
  4. The Doctor’s Dilemma

These books will be sold as a set of 2 books , purchased directly from me.

This is how you can order your copy:

  1. Make a payment of RM 85 (including postage within Malaysia) to CIMB Bank Account No: 8006158099 (Pagalavan Letchumanan)
  2. Send your Bank-In Slip to email hardtruths2016@gmail.com with your name and address/particulars
  3. Give me 1-2 days to courier the books.
  4. Courier tracking number and invoice will be sent to you via email after it has been mailed.
  5. An Invoice will be provided for Tax purposes
  6. For those who are ordering from overseas, please email me first as I need to check on courier charges.

Hope everyone will enjoy reading this, one of its kind book in Malaysia……………

For those SPM leavers, this is the time to grab the books………..


Read Full Post »

Sometimes I really feel sorry for some students or graduates who expect everything to come to them on a silver plate. Life is never easy. It only gets tougher day by day. You have to live with what you have and try to be better in every sense in order to be a successful person in the future. Unfortunately, the current generation of graduates grew up in a comfortable environment with everything being provided by their parents. Their parents on the other hand do not want their precious child to get his/her hand dirty! They want their child to be in a chamber, work from 9-5 and come back home and live a comfortable life and earn a lot of money! In reality, that will never happen!

Over the last 1 week, there were many interesting letters to the Star. The chain reaction was started by THIS letter, supposedly written by a graduate who is yet to even start his housemanship. How ironic! The issue brought forward was about “tagging”.  I must say that I don’t totally disagree with the author but he must understand that, it is the reality and part & parcel of life. For years people are talking about it but why are there no changes to the environment? I agree that our working environment is pathetic. Most of the older hospitals do not even have proper room for doctors(HO/MO) to rest or sleep. Housemen need to use whatever room available to rest/sleep during their calls. However, some of the newer hospitals do have proper call rooms but the numbers are generally not adequate. When I was in SCHOMOS/MMA Johor, I had to put multiple request to change all the “worn-out” air-conds in all the so-called “call” rooms in the hospital. It took me almost 1 year to get it done. Thank fully I had a wonderful hospital and state pengarah who supported my request. In the 2000s, we only had 1-2 HOs in each ward and thus we did not require that many rooms to even start with. Only 2 MOs and 3 HOs were “on-call” every night. Unfortunately, we have tons of HOs in a hospital nowadays.

Coming to the issue of tagging, I feel someone will never complain if his/her intention to do medicine is to learn and help people. After all, tagging is just 2 weeks in the first posting and usually will become 1 week in subsequent postings. I don’t see a big fuss about that. The tagging period is to enable you to learn how the system works and at the same time to build up your physical and mental strength of being a doctor. Medical graduates feel that they are the only one working “so” hard compared to other graduates. I beg to differ. Almost all graduates in any other critical field do the same during their early career stages. The only difference is, you are dealing with life and death matter and your job is in the hospital. You can’t bring your work back home like engineers, lawyers etc. Till today, I am still working 24hrs a day 7 days a week!

Medicine is a life long learning. Till today I am still learning and discovering new things which I had never seen before. The most crucial part of medicine is the early years of housemanship and MOship. During this time, you are always guided by someone senior who is much more experienced than you. Your responsibility is actually the lowest as you don’t have to make life and death decision. Medicine cannot be learned from books. Medicine is on the job learning. The more patients you see and the more time you spend in the ward, the more you learn. If you want to be a good doctor, then stop whining and spend your time learning the most during the early years.

The next day, another letter supposedly written by a parent was published in the Star. Again, I don’t totally disagree with the letter especially about the working environment but the “parent” must realise that being a doctor is not an “office” hour job! You have to make sure your job is done before going home as you are dealing with lives. I don’t understand why is he complaining about 12 hours shift? I presume he wants a “start at 8am and go back at 5pm ” kind of job! Than I am sorry, he is in a wrong profession. These issue arises because parents and even students do medicine thinking that it is a cosy job, sitting in an air-cond room and earning quick bugs! The reality is totally the opposite. That’s why I keep saying that EVERYONE who intend to do medicine MUST read my books! Know the reality before putting your foot into anything. I have also said this many times, never get married during housemanship (in reference to the letter which talks about parenting!). And please stop comparing with other countries. Each country have their own problems as the healthcare structure and system are different. In Australia, you do not have hospitals without specialist. Here, you are thrown to a district hospital after housemanship where you will be the one who will be making decisions! You will be doing vacuum/forcep delivery, inserting chest tubes, doing minor surgeries etc. The competency level needed is totally different!

These letters were discussed extensively in social media and some senior doctors did write to the Star. “Doctors NO Different from Soldiers” in The Star and “An appropriate baseline in quality and quantity of training” in Malay Mail are worth reading. You will only know how important housemanship is when you are posted to a district hospital or alone in a hospital without anyone to consult! Till today, I still remember what I learned from my seniors during housemanship. I still remember who thought me to do a CVP line at 4am in the morning and he is a succesful cardiologist now. Looking back, I enjoyed my housemanship as all of us back then, helped each other very well, without being calculative. Unfortunately, we have too many housemen nowadays who are calculative and do not help each other. Trust me, housemanship will be a wonderful experience if your colleagues help each other.

And for those housemen/parents who are whining , there is an important message from our Deputy DG:



There appears to be some confusion on what is being said on HOs and the contract system.

The current modified flexi system was formulated by a group lead by myself where a HO will work between 68-74 hours per week with HO : patient of 1:4 ( in most other countries 81 hrs and HO patient ration 1: 8-10)

So for starters they are working less hours and with less patients to look after.

But the system is designed to ensure ownership and accountability of patients to each HO. So much so only HO training in Malaysia is accepted by the GMC uk as equal to their training for those who have degrees registrable with the GMC .

In order to ensure adequate clinical exposure and competence each posting has 16 mandatory topics which they need to know before they can exit a posting , it is very transparent and questions asked are within these topics and answers given are documented for reference in disputes on unfairness and I was asked a postgraduate question !

Also they are given protected time to ensure they attend 75% of the CMEs.

So if a HO working under these conditions can’t complete his/ her work within the shift period I have no comments , would you find them safe to run your clinic ?

They are given 16 weeks to complete each posting and allowed 2 extensions of 8 weeks i.e. another 16 weeks if still not competent a final 24 weeks at another hospital to given them a fair chance ,then terminated . So they are given more than enough opportunities to remedy their short comings .

With this in place and only 5000 places for each year , when HOs get extended or disappear and as they are permanent civil servants , it takes more than a year to terminate them !

So I have on an average 6-700 who are non performing each year added to those who don’t want to take up their post HO , MO posting by refusing to move they by depriving others getting into the system !

So with the contract system you disappear for 7 days out you go and in comes the next person in the queue , if you finish you HO training and don’t want to go to your new MO posting when your 24 mths is up so too is your salary , so they will not be able to work till they accept their new posting and once there is a lapse in pay it will take about 3 mths to get the system back Bec MOH has almost 40k Drs !

Next those who don’t complete due to not being competent and are terminated that is the end of the road .

Those who have disappearance and return they have a 6 mth cooling off period before JPA allows them to reapply so in reality it will be about 9 mths before they get a job.

When numbers are high , we have no option but to be fair to those who have not been given a job , we hope those given a chance will value the job given .

Work is very different from being a student and the reality is many students don ‘t spend long hours in the wards so working in the ward for ” long” works is alien to them!

This is compounded by the fact that all private medical colleges don’t have their own teaching hospital which to me makes a big difference , how many lectures and professors of private medical schools actually work in the wards ? So this to me is another reason for the standards and attitudes of the newer medical students .

With the contract system compulsory service is still there 2yrs as a HO and 2 more as an MO , once you have completed the 4 yrs then we cross the bridge , the MOH as it stands with it’s future needs can only take in about 2-2500 max per year so about 50% will not be given a job in MOH .

Who will be taken ? , those pursuing a postgraduate program either the Masters or the parallel pathway of the Royal college exams Bec for every masters slot now there 5-7 applicants ! So to give an opportunity to the others we are developing the parallel pathway including Primary care .

So I have put a lot of thought and effort into planning for the future of healthcare delivery in Malaysia to ensure we have a truly great system with competent and safe doctors delivering quality health care .

I am open to comments if you can suggest ways to make it better Bec this is a dynamic process that may need to be adjusted from time to time .

I am now working on the rationalisation of MO post to ensure workload levelling , it took my team 9 mths to ensure equitable HO distribution , so in the next 3 mths the MOs issue will be resolved and finally the Specialist will be next Bec not all of them are working just as hard !

Once that is done my work is done and I can leave my job , I have delivered on what I was tasked to do as DDG in MOH , other task of mine are also in various stages of completion.



So, just to summarise:

  1. those who go missing for 7 days: out you go!
  2. those who return, have 6 month’s cooling off period for even JPA to re-consider
  3. those who don’t complete HO in 3 years, out you go!
  4. those who refuse to transfer out to wherever you are posted, salary will stop within 24 hrs
  5. only 50% of HOs completing will be given Moship post in MOH
  6. the rest have to “cari makan” on your own
  7. preference for MO permanent post will be given to those who have postgraduate interest

Did anyone say that doctors will never be jobless? Well, the reality is here. When we have more bodies than post, the employer aka MOH have the right to pick and choose. Dr M once said, he want to flood the market with doctors! His ambition has come true……

SPM results were just out 2 weeks ago. For those who intend to do medicine, please buy and read my books! You can visit my blog post HERE on instructions on how to buy the books.



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