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Thursday, May 12, 2022

Health ministry ‘revives’ circular barring staff from talking to media


A screenshot of the reminder on the bulletin board of the health ministry where important notices are highlighted daily.

PETALING JAYA: Hit by “exposes” in the news and social media by several junior doctors lately, the health ministry has started flashing a 1995 policy on its bulletin board in its homepage, reminding its staff that they are barred from making public statements.

Titled “Prohibition Policy”, it is a reminder that they are barred from making any statement to the media directly, or when addressing the public in forums.

They are also prohibited from publishing their views on any platform which can bring the government into disrepute.

“They are barred from doing so whether orally, in writing or any other form of transmission,” it said in the bulletin on top of the page, which normally has four or five items which are newsworthy or notices of upcoming events.

This comes in the wake of a torrent of media reports quoting unnamed housemen and other doctors who claimed that they have been bullied and humiliated by the seniors and specialists in the course of their two-year housemanship period.

This debate has been hogging the limelight recently following the death of a houseman after he fell from the 23rd floor of his rented apartment block at Jalan Datuk Keramat in George Town on April 17, just three weeks after being posted to Penang Hospital.

In December 2020, a trainee doctor there also fell to his death – three weeks after quitting his job.

In the notice, the ministry highlighted Rule 19(1) of the Rules and Regulations (Behaviour and Discipline), which says civil servants should not make any statement that will be detrimental to the government.

“They are also barred from making statements which can embarrass the government, or talk about weaknesses in government policies or divulge any information on incidents that involve the government,” it said.

When contacted, Cuepacs secretary-general Abdul Rahman Nordin said these doctors have clearly violated the regulations as their statements have dented the government’s image.

“If everyone is free to talk to the media about internal matters, it will weaken the civil service considerably. This is a clear violation and action must be taken against anyone found doing so,” he said.

He said the ministry has set up a task force to look into the trainee doctors’ claims and should leave it to the authorities to handle the allegations. - FMT

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