Do you know why doctors are leaving the government service?
SLAB - another reason to SLAP BN in the face
I can accept many features of the NEP, albeit swallowing them like a bitter pill.
I will never be able to accept the Skim Latihan Akademik Bumiputera (SLAB), however.
For those who are unfamiliar with the SLAB scam scheme, it is basically a training program tailored for “outstanding” bumiputeras with professional qualifications to embark in an academic career.
The privileges accorded under this scam scheme are plentiful and far-reaching, available to “bumi” graduates in medical, law, sciences and IT. I shall only touch on the medical career, drawing from my own personal experience lest I make wrong generalised statements about other fields.
Under the Ministry of Health ruling, all doctors are required to serve at least four before being eligible to apply for specialty training in the Masters programs in local universities. No one is exempted from this ruling as in this noble profession of medicine; all doctors are equal in this fair nation regardless of the ethnicity.
Some are more equal than others, nonetheless.
These are the supposed outstanding bumiputera doctors. They only need to serve ONE YEAR of government service before being offered a range of clinical disciplines in which they desire to specialize in and later on, lecture in. While the rest of their non-bumiputera colleagues serve the district folk, these privileged lot are bypassing everyone else to begin a premature training as a clinical specialist.
On the outset, it would appear justified to reward ‘prodigies’ with a shorter route to specialty and thereafter a career in academic medicine.
If one scrutinizes the SLAB candidates however, the ugly faces of discrimination, cronyism and shortsightedness will become obvious.
Despite its namesake, the SLAB program is almost exclusively reserved for Malay Muslim bumiputeras. There is a reasonable pool of qualified and talented non-Muslim Bumiputera doctors in Sabah and Sarawak. They are denied the chance to become academics through this supposed noble training scheme. It’s bad enough to label Malaysians as bumi and non-bumi. To further differentiate between Malay and non-Malay bumiputeras is an act more despicable that the apartheid NEP itself. It is racial egoism comparable to Hitler’s Nazism and the Ku Klux Klan.
In principle, the by-invitation only SLAB program is open to the outstanding, phenomenal Malay bumiputera doctor. In practice however, the candidates are far from it. My Malay colleagues who could hardly string a proper sentence of English together are being accepted into the program. They couldn’t even present a simple case summary to the consultants during ward rounds and now they are expected to lecture medical students? Pretty preposterous isn’t it? The quality of SLAB trainees ranges from those with minimal knowledge in basic pharmacology to those who could never handle common medical emergencies without descending into a state of panic.
Are we confident to let our children learn and train under these pseudo-lecturers? A great number of my colleagues who failed final year MBBS exams in Universiti Malaya were invited to join the SLAB program! It gives one a general idea of the quality of our future lecturers. The majority of these SLAB products has either failed the external Royal Colleges exam or was never confident to attempt these exams in the first place. There were also two SLAB trainees in UM who were dropouts from Australian universities. The future of medical education does not look bright indeed.
Like most other NEP privileges, the SLAB program has been hijacked by well-connected UMNO loyalists. A great number of trainees are accepted into the program because they carry a ‘bin Datuk-something’. The truly qualified bumis are denied an opportunity while mediocre, below-average children of UMNO are offered a silver platter to quasi-professorship.
More than being another UMNO racist policy, the SLAB program is one that is dangerous. Clinical acumen in the profession of medicine comes from years of experience and there is no other way. A pre-university student who entered medical school without battling it out on a level playing field is already a cause for concern. Now, the same person is expected to perform the clinical duties of a lecturer-specialist after serving just one year of housemanship. In our feudalistic healthcare system, the specialist is always regarded as correct and infallible, even when he has little experience more than his medical officers who are subordinates merely because they were not born with a privileged skin color.
The intentions of the SLAB program were never to provide a helping hand to aspiring bumiputera doctors. It was also never the intention of SLAB program to provide our universities with a steady source of well-trained lecturers.
The way it is carried out, the aims and purposes of the SLAB program are to mass-produce as many Malay bumiputera specialists as possible and in the shortest time, as well as to inhibit the career progress of non-Malay doctors. It is already punishing enough that non-bumi students enter university one year later that their bumi counterparts (two years if one was from national-type school), now they even have to wait four years later than their Malay colleagues before being eligible to apply for specialty training.
A SLAB product will become a full-fledged specialist by the age of 30 with an almost guaranteed pathway to subspecialty and professorship by 40. His non-Malay colleague meanwhile, will only be a newbie specialist at 35, assuming the doctor was successful in his application for specialty training at the very first attempt!
As a doctor serving the poorest state in Malaysia, I have many reasons not to cross BN this coming election – poverty, inflation, corruption, judicial bribery and escalating crime, amongst others.
Nevertheless, the SLAB program alone is enough a reason for me to slap the BN on both cheeks – UMNO for their perpetual narcissism and MCA/MIC for playing UMNO’s running dogs.