KUALA LUMPUR, July 26 — Hundreds of junior doctors and medical officers in public hospitals in several hospitals nationwide staged a walkout today to express dissatisfaction with the government’s recent announcement of improved benefits and contract extensions.
Amid heavy police presence at hospitals to maintain order and potential disciplinary action by their Ministry of Health superiors, supporters of the #HartalDoktorKontrak movement dressed in full black attire began their strike at 11am sharp at their respective healthcare facilities.
In Hospital Ampang, the group began its march from the lobby towards the Covid-19 swab testing area near the rear portion of the hospital before gathering to chant while holding aloft their placards demanding equal treatment.
A spokesman representing the group said the strike is aimed at highlighting the inequalities faced by contract doctors compared to their peers who are appointed on a permanent basis.
“We are exhausted and tired of waiting. The reasons given by the prime minister does not resolve the issue but merely a continuation of our contracts,” she said when met here.
The group dispersed roughly 10 minutes later and returned to their respective posts so as to not disrupt ongoing hospital operations.
In Johor Baru, moderate police presence was observed at Hospital Sultanah Aminah with a small team of Light Strike Force (LSF) on standby since 10.15am.
Some 12 to 15 doctors comprising medical officers and other health staff then began their walk out at 11am from hospital’s lobby rear and main entrance area.
The doctors, identified as many wore black attire with face mask and face shields, then walked around the main hospital block for 20 minutes before they stopped for a group photo and dispersed to resume working.
In Ipoh, around 30 contract doctors from Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun (HRBP) staged a similar strike while fully adhering to the standard operating procedures (SOPs).
The contract doctors, clad in black clothing, gathered at the hospital’s lobby and began walking out around 11.30am.
In the strike, which lasted about three minutes, the doctors walked out of the hospital without holding any placards and returned inside via the hospital’s emergency section.
However the media were prohibited from approaching any of the doctors to be interviewed on the orders of authorities at the scene.
In Sabah, where the Queen Elizabeth Hospital was earmarked as one of the hospitals for the hartal strike, police presence was more visible with at least four police vehicles parked at the main entrance and personnel and officers stationed around the entrance as early as 10am.
At 11am, crowds of hospital staff and media gathered to watch, but a protest by contract doctors fail to materialise.
By 11.30am, most of the onlookers had dispersed.
MORE TO COME