Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, at the Sungei Besi Mines DAP Branch in Petaling constituency on Tuesday, 12th July 1979 at 7p.m.
DAP welcomes government decision to establish a third medical faculty but wants to know whether its sitting in Kelantan, without teaching hospital and other supporting facilities, would cause delay to its establishment or affect medical standards
The DAP welcomes the announcement by the Education Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, on the establishment of a third medical faculty in the country. Datuk Musa Hitam said the medical faculty would be sited in Kelantan, and listed three grounds for setting up the faculty there:
1. To bring a medical faculty to the long neglected east coast;
2. To provide direct contact between urban and rural education levels;
3. To allow its students to understand rural diseases and orientate their studies towards it.
On principle, there can be no objection to the dispersal of higher institutions of learning to various parts of the country, and this is why, for instance, I have called for the establishment of a University in Sarawak.
However, the establishment of a medical faculty in Kelantan, without teaching hospital facilities and other back-up facilities, is a matter of grave concern as to whether it would cause considerable delay in the eventual establishment of the medical faculty, and whether it would affect the medical standards there.
As far as I am aware, there are no plans either under the Third Malaysia Plan or the Mid-Term Review for the establishment of a new and modern hospital in Kelantan, which is essential if the medical faculty is to be sited there. And from all experience, the establishment of a new hospital is subject to considerable delays and repeated postponement of target dates of completion, as best illustrated in the case of the new hospital for Klang, to the extent that it has caused the Sultan of Selangor to express his royal displeasure many times in public.
The establishment of a medical faculty in Kelantan when there are no teaching hospital and other back-up facilities will be to subject it to double jeopardy of delay – the faculty itself, and the teaching hospital and back-up facilities. If the medical faculty is to be rushed through to meet its scheduled date of establishment, although proper teaching hospital and other back-up facilities are not ready, then there is a great danger that academic standards in the third medical faculty would be greatly compromised.
The DAP had long pressed for the establishment of a third medical faculty in Malaysia, and there should be the minimum delay in its establishment, to cope with the grave shortage of doctors in the government service, and to meet the demands for medical education in the country.
For instance, for the academic year 1979-1980, the University of Malaya Medical Faculty took in 138 students, 42 of whom are non-Malays; while the University Kebangsaan medical faculty took in 192 students, out of whom 15 are non-Malays. This means that a total of 320 students were taken in for this academic year for medical education. There is not only a need for expanded medical places in our country to produce more doctors to meet national needs, but also to provide more education opportunities for non-Malay students to take up medicine, as non-Malays occupy a meager 17.8% of the total medical intake for this year.
In view of the urgent medical need of the country, the Government should establish the third medical faculty in as short a space of time as possible, where there are already adequate hospital facilities to be teaching hospital, like in Penang or in Perak. Meanwhile, the Government can plan for the establishment of a fourth medical faculty in Kelantan – which because of the lack of teaching hospital and other back-up facilities, would not be possible to be established in the immediate future.
I fully support the view that higher university campuses should be dispersed, which will also close the gap between urban and rural education levels. For an immediate start, the Education Ministry could establish campuses either of the University Kebangsaan, University Technologi or University Pertanian in Kelantan, which do not call for such long gestation period in completion – as in the case of medical faculty.
It would be most unfortunate if educational matters are decide on political grounds, and not on educational feasibility.
I hope that there would be a enlightened public discussion on the question of a third medical faculty for the country, for the good of medical education and the long-term needs of the people.