Dr Mahathir Mohamad says the issue raised by a group of contract doctors who resorted to a protest walkout earlier today was not brought to his attention when he led the Pakatan Harapan government.
“Contract doctors are a normal thing. It was not brought to my attention at that time because it was not a problem. The contract doctors were not complaining because they could see that after being a contract doctor, they could be put on permanent service.
“That is why this was not a problem during my time, and during Najib’s time. But now it is a problem because these people have been there for a long time,” the former prime minister, who leads a small of bloc of MPs under his Pejuang party, said during a press conference today.
He was asked to comment on the Hartal movement by a group of contract doctors fighting for permanent positions in the government sector.
The contract system was introduced for medical, dental and pharmacy graduates in the tabling of the 2017 Budget at the Dewan Rakyat by former prime minister Najib Razak, who cited constraints on permanent positions.
This morning, some 50 doctors took up a call by the Hartal Doktor Kontrak group to stage a short protest outside Sungai Buloh Hospital, the country’s main treatment centre for Covid-19 victims.
The group had earlier claimed that some 4,000 doctors would join them in the walkout.
Yesterday, health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah reminded the doctors that their action could disrupt medical services during a crucial time.
The Hartal group however insisted that the protest would not cause any disruptions.