Malaysian doctors stage walkout amid worsening virus outbreak

SUNGAI BULOH (AFP) – Hundreds of junior doctors at state-run Malaysian hospitals staged walkouts yesterday demanding better conditions as the country faces its worst coronavirus outbreak yet.

Dressed in black and holding signs with slogans including “equal pay, equal rights, equal opportunity” and “we are your future specialists”, they protested at medical facilities nationwide.

The doctors are on contracts for a set period and say their treatment is worse than that of permanent government staff, even as they have found themselves on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19.

They complain of a lack of job security, poor benefits and that very few are eventually offered permanent positions.

We want “equal rights, to be a permanent doctor”, said a medic at a government hospital that treats virus patients outside Kuala Lumpur.

“We would definitely not be here if we were treated fairly… we should be appreciated for what we do,” the doctor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters.

The medic was among dozens who took part in the action at the hospital, which lasted around half an hour.

Media reported that several hundred participated across the country, but some doctors were threatened by police and senior hospital staff in a bid to halt the protests.

A doctor holds a sign in Malay that reads ‘I am a contract doctor’ while participating in a walkout at the Sungai Buloh Hospital in Selangor. PHOTO: AP