The compulsory national service started in 1971 when the Medical Act 1971(Act 50) was enacted where every practitioner has to serve a minimum period of three years within the public services (as defined under Article 132 of the Federal Constitution) to overcome the shortage of medical practitioners in the country in a medical post.See sections 40-44 of the Medical Act 1971 .
Under section 40 of the Medical Act 1971 in force, every practitioner has to serve a minimum period of continuous total period of not less than three years within the public services upon being given full registration. As defined under Article 132 of the Federal Constitution, this service may be completed in a government healthcare facility the Ministry of Health or other government agencies as determined by the Director General of Health.
Though the public services are generally interpreted as any government agencies, section 41 of the Medical Act, however, empowers the Director-General of Health to determine services in such public services as completing the compulsory services. Due to shortage of medical practitioners within the Ministry of Health, the Director-General usually considers only services within the Ministry of Health as fulfilling such legal requirement.
It is an offence under the Act for any practitioner not to complete his compulsory service within the public services as determined by the Director General. If found guilty, such offence is punishable under section 40(3) where ‘the registration of such person under section 14 shall be deemed to be revoked, and the Registrar shall accordingly strike off from the Register the name of such person’.
For those who do not wish to commence or complete their compulsory services within the Ministry of Health, they need to appeal to the Director General in writing. Amongst the options available are:
a. their service in other government agencies to be considers as completing the compulsory services (section 40(4)(b);
b. postponement (section 42(1);
c. Exemption (section 42(1); or
d. Reduction (section 42(1).
As guidance, you may download the compulsory services request form attached and forward the completed form to us.
Special Consideration For Malaysians working abroad:
In 1997, the Cabinet approved the proposal to give either partial or full exemption of compulsory service to Malaysian medical officers or specialists working abroad who wished to come back and serve the country. They were allowed to work in the private sector provided they also performed community service in government hospitals or clinics.
As an incentive to attract more Malaysian specialists abroad to come back and serve the country, the Honourable Health Minister agreed to revise the previous directive for compulsory service. Hence, in September 2004, the Cabinet agreed to the new revised compulsory service directives and it came into force immediately.
The current criteria imposed for exemption from compulsory service are as follows:
1. For doctors below 45 years:
a. Need to possess a rare subspecialty as determined by a Committee on Exemption of Compulsory Service; or
b. Need to serve in public or private universities or military hospitals for a continuous period of 3 years;
2. For doctors aged 45 years old and above, regardless of having postgraduate degrees or otherwise.