Doctors who are unable to understand what is expressed by patients risk misdiagnosis and treatment, said
UMNO Youth exco Shahril Hamdan.

"There is also a big risk of misdiagnosis and the follow-up that comes with it. And if there is miscommunication between both parties, the treatment will not be suitable,” he said in a statement today.

The Public Service Department yesterday said it has relaxed the Bahasa Melayu requirement for qualified medical graduates to be appointed as Grade UD41 contract medical officers.

Referring to the matter as being a step in the wrong direction, he also questioned the ability of doctors to carry out proper and effective treatment to patients who are not fluent in other languages besides the national Bahasa Melayu.

“How can a doctor provide effective treatment to a patient if there is a communication barrier where the patient does not have a good command of language besides Bahasa Malaysia?

He also questioned the rationale behind the Ministry of Health’s easing of requirements.

“Realistically, the decision made should be rationalised to the public. Bahasa Melayu is embedded in Article 152 of the Federal Constitution and Act 32 of the National Language of 1963/67. Any lackadaisical attitude towards its significance will further undermine the language. It will seem as if Bahasa Melayu is substandard.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said candidates applying for permanent appointment as medical officers in the ministry were required to pass the subject.

He said private candidates who registered to sit for the SPM examination for the first time could apply for permission from the Examinations Board director to take BM as a single subject without sitting for the full examination, just to fulfill the requirement for the service.