‘Long overdue’ progress

Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian

KUCHING: The recent announcement by the health ministry that it was prioritising Sarawak-born candidates to fill up vacancies in the state’s health facilities was well received by Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian.

“While we take this as a progress, it is long overdue,” he said in a Facebook post on Tuesday (Nov 24) in response to Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.

Dr Sim said Sarawak from 2016 had been consistent in its stance to pursue health autonomy with its mission of having its own Sarawak Medical Council.

“I had consistently conveyed the position of the state government to the health ministry since 2016 during the administration of former Chief Minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem and continued it under Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

“We can’t accept the Malaysia norm which is population based. It will be totally unfair to Sarawak as in the state’s case, we need to take into account its geographical distance,” he said.

Dr Sim went on to explain that there was a specialist hospital located every 30 to 45 minutes’ drive along Peninsular Malaysia’s North-South Highway

“The North-South Highway is almost as long as Pan Borneo Highway in Sarawak. Unfortunately, with all the highways, road traumas are inevitable. 

“But every three to four hours’ drive along the Pan Borneo Highway, there is no specialist hospital with orthopaedic or neurosurgeon for road traumas,” he said.

On Tuesday, Dr Adham, in explaining the health ministry’s position on prioritising Sarawak-born candidates, said all 74 Sarawak-born officers out of 94 officers for 2017, were absorbed as permanent staff and stationed in Sarawak in April 2020.

“Through the provision of the Medical Act 1971, the government has an obligation to allocate placements for medical graduates to provide them with experience through graduate training programmes or compulsory service with the government,” he added.