The Contract Doctors Strike or better known as the “Hartal Doktor Kontrak” has indeed gained widespread support from various individuals and organisations. The protest, which was held on Monday, 26th July, witnessed a nationwide walkout of contract doctors demanding two things — for the government to receive contract doctors as permanent doctors and to be given opportunities to further their education and specialise. With widespread media coverage, this protest definitely made headlines, signifying a revolution in the Malaysian medical sector. Despite threats from the police, these doctors were brave enough to go ahead with the protest.
On the first day of the long-awaited parliamentary session on Monday, Health Minister, Dr Adham Baba stated that no action would be taken against those who protested. This was also posted on the Health Ministry’s Twitter account. This seemed like a relief to many. However, in the wee hours of the morning, at 12am, a few police officers were at MAEPS Serdang to interrogate the doctors and nurses working there.
Polis datang ke #MAEPS tengah malam untuk ambik keterangan. Walaupun sudah dikatakan tiada tindakan tatatertib. Jadi kenapa ganggu frontliners pada tengah malam?? Bukan mereka berparti di #MAEPS tu pic.twitter.com/7lo2uiGCN4
— HartalDoktorKontrak (@HKontrak) July 27, 2021
This was an unexpected form of interrogation as unlike the other staff in the major hospitals in Malaysia, the staff in MAEPS Serdang chose not to participate in the strike, following threats of arrest prior to the planned demonstration.
This interrogation ended at 3:50pm, according to a lawyer, Asheeq Ali who was at the scene when the incident occurred. It was later brought to light that the investigation was held due to the fact that a police report was made by the Director of the MAEPS Health Facility regarding the media’s presence at the location. It should also be noted that these doctors and nurses were on duty and evidently exhausted with work when the investigation occurred.
Saya difahamkan SEKARANG @PolisDirajaMsia sedang mengambil keterangan nurse dan doktor di MAEPS Serdang untuk #HartalDoktorKontrak. Ini kerja gila! PDRM perlu henti ambil keterangan segera! IT IS 12.15 AM!!
— Asheeq Ali (@AsheeqAli) July 27, 2021
Many netizens were infuriated with the actions of the police force and some have even called out Dr Adham Baba for going against his promises in Parliament on Monday. This was indeed a huge injustice to health workers nationwide and for sure, the actions of the police forces in the morning would be brought up in the Parliament, later on.
Various MPs have voiced their dissatisfaction regarding this incident. Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, the ex-Minister of Health posted a tweet, which reads, “Good morning everyone. After Dr Adham Baba gave a guarantee that no action would be taken, I hope the Prime Minister and his cabinet would react based on the promise given. The trust deficit of the Perikatan Nasional government is already at its lowest ebb if there’s any left.”
Salam & Sejahtera Semua!
Stlh YBMK @DrAdhamBaba beri jaminan tidak akan ambil apa2 tindakan, saya harap beliau pastikan PM-8 serta Kabinetnya akan bertindak mengikut janji yg diucapkan.
Plsss..the trust-deficit of the PN Govt is already at its lowest ebb, if there's any left. https://t.co/tut8iF6Epx
— Dzulkefly Ahmad (@DrDzul) July 27, 2021
Nevertheless, this was a huge violation of the rights of the doctors to protest in a democratic nation. Hopefully, this issue would be addressed by the Health Ministry in due time as it’s totally uncalled for.