Gag Order Still In Force Health Ministry Tells Doctors
The health ministry says government doctors must not issue statements on their work and policies, both verbally and on social media. (Rawpixel pic)PETALING JAYA: The health ministry has warned government doctors against issuing public statements, both in person and on social media.
This is stated in a circular dated June 22 by the ministry’s secretary-general, Mohd Shafiq Abdullah, sighted by FMT.
“Despite various guidelines, reminders and warnings issued multiple times by the government, especially the top management of the ministry, there are still a certain number of staff who choose to ignore and not take this matter seriously,” he said.
Under the Public Officers Regulations Act (Conduct and Discipline) 1998, doctors are not allowed to issue or circulate any statements that affect or criticise the government’s decisions, policies or proposals, as well as tarnish its name.
They are also not allowed, either in writing or verbally, to provide comments, information or explanation on incidents, proceedings or reports that involve the government.
They may only do so in exceptional circumstances and with written permission from the ministry on operational matters or the implementation of decisions from the government, based on legal provisions.
“The ministry’s top management wishes to stress and remind all staff to be more ethical when using their personal social media accounts, such as those on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Telegram, Youtube, blogs, WhatsApp, TikTok and so on,” the circular said.
It said those who wish to raise any complaints, views or suggestions for improvement must use the official channels provided by the ministry, or refer to its corporate communication unit and other authorised channels.
It called on all health ministry staff to always comply with the rules and its code of ethics for the use of social media.
“Taking into account the rules in force and warnings that have been issued several times, if there is sufficient evidence to show that public officers under the ministry have violated these rules, disciplinary action, including dismissal from work, can be taken against officers for disobeying orders and affecting the image of the public service,” it said.
FMT has reached out to health-director general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah for comment.
The ministry’s circular comes amid a social media campaign, known as #HartalDoktorKontrak, which has called for contract doctors in government service to go on strike on July 26 if the government failed to resolve the issue of their permanent placement.
The Malaysian Medical Association’s Section for House Officers, Medical Officers and Specialists (Schomos) had also launched a Code Black campaign to encourage the public to use black on their social media profiles from July 1 to 12 in support of the contract doctors. On the final day, people are asked to go to work dressed in black. - FMT
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