KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian students taking up medicine in Havana under a Cuban scholarship programme are facing an uncertain future as their degrees are yet to be recognised by the Malaysian government. Four students from the first batch of Malaysians sent there in 2007 have graduated and returned here on Sept 4. Another 21 are still in Cuba in various stages of their studies. Confirming this, Cuban Embassy Charge d' Affaires Yanila Reyes Paret said although the application for recognition of the degrees was sent to the Malaysian authorities in 2007, there has been no feedback so far. It was reported on March 30, 2007 that the Cuban Government was awaiting the outcome of a survey by a Malaysian Public Services Department (PSD) team that visited Havana in April 2006 to evaluate four medical universities. "As lately as Sept 4, when we had a small ceremony to welcome back Malaysian graduates, we asked the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) official, who was present, about the matter. We were told to re-apply but have not obtained the application form from it yet," she said. Four students from the first batch of Malaysian medical graduates who returned here on Sept 4, have been asked to undergo a six-month programme, which costs RM25,000 in local universities, and to sit for the Medical Licensing Examination (MLE). However, there is no guarantee that the local universities will accept these students for the programme, without which they cannot sit for the MLE. Their parents want the government to remove the redtape and allow the graduates to sit for the MLE to evaluate their qualifications. "We are not asking for any monetary help. Our children have studied for seven years and have completed their degrees well and if the authority here wants to evaluate them, they could test them," said Alex Joseph Gomez, whose daughter Sasha Jo Anne is one those affected. "The MMC has asked them to attend a six-month programme with no guarantee of acceptance by the universities," he said. Sasha said although the Cuban medical degree is recognised in the United Kingdom, United States and in Canada, the Malaysian students want to work here and contribute to the country. "We are not asking for much. All we are asking for is the same chance as all the other medical graduates," said another affected graduate, Saw Ee Ann. Explaining that the Cuban scholarship for the comprehensive health programme was first offered to Malaysian students in 2007, Paret said there are 24 medical schools in Cuba which also train foreign students in this field. "This was the idea of our commander-in-chief Fidel Castro. These scholarships for foreign medical students in Cuba are a simple symbol of what we can achieve together and as a contribution of Cuba to the integration of people," she said. Stressing that Malaysia and Cuba have a good diplomatic relationship since 1975, Paret said former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had acknowledged and appreciated Cuba's medical achievements. "This recognition of our degrees depends mainly on the Malaysian authority. We are open to negotiation and are willing to re-apply and explain our medical programme and the scholarship to the Malaysian authority," said Paret. He said Cuba honours the long-standing relationship with Malaysia and would be happy to look into a collaborative initiative in the medical field.