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SMC seeks longer suspension for 2 doctors for exploiting patient for sex

SMC seeks longer suspension for 2 doctors for exploiting patient for sex

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 04 Aug 2022
Author: Selina Lum

A disciplinary tribunal had earlier found the two doctors guilty of professional misconduct and imposed suspensions on the 2 doctors.

The Singapore Medical Council (SMC) on Wednesday (Aug 3) appealed for longer suspension periods to be handed down to two philandering doctors who were found to have colluded with each other to exploit a patient for sex.

Colorectal surgeon Julian Ong had given the contact of a patient to his friend, psychiatrist Chan Herng Nieng, in a WhatsApp chat and told Dr Chan: "Feel free to play your game".

A disciplinary tribunal had earlier found the two doctors guilty of professional misconduct and imposed an eight-month suspension on Dr Ong and a five-month suspension on Dr Chan.

On Wednesday, SMC's lawyer Chia Voon Jiet argued before the Court of Three Judges that Dr Ong's suspension should be increased to 13 months, while Dr Chan's should be doubled to 10 months.

But Dr Ong and Dr Chan denied that they had colluded to exploit the patient and appealed to overturn their convictions.

They contended that Dr Ong had introduced the patient, who was a property agent, to Dr Chan in the context of a potential property deal.

Dr Ong's lawyer, Senior Counsel Lee Eng Beng, argued that his client wanted to help his patient get more business and also wanted to help his friend, who was considering a property investment.

Mr Lee argued that the "game" in the text message referred to Dr Chan's practice of lowballing, or offering extremely low bids.

Dr Chan's lawyer, Senior Counsel N. Sreenivasan, argued that there was no plan to use the patient for sex.

He said his client did contact the patient and obtained a list of properties but ultimately did not meet her.

Mr Sreenivasan argued that it cannot be inferred, based on screenshots of messages chosen by a "very vindictive complainant", that the two doctors were colluding to exploit a patient.

The complaint against the two doctors was made by Dr Chan's former lover, Ms Serene Tiong, after she discovered sordid exchange of messages in which the two men boasted about their sexual conquests.

During the lawyers' arguments, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon noted that the two doctors have admitted that they were in the habit of introducing women to each other for sex.

He said he found it difficult to ignore that the messages relating to the patient included an inappropriate comment, which put the exchange in an entirely different context.

The court, which also comprised Justices Andrew Phang and Tay Yong Kwang, reserved judgment on the appeals and will give its decision at a later date.

The two doctors made headlines in 2020 after Dr Ong lost his defamation suit against Ms Tiong in a district court.

He had sued Ms Tiong after she e-mailed her complaint, accusing the pair of taking advantage of vulnerable women, to other doctors.

Dr Ong later won the case on appeal to the High Court, but the judge remarked that both doctors "do not have any reason to hold their heads high".

The judge said their "smug boasts of their trysts with various women, as well as the demeaning terms in which they gloatingly describe their sexual conquests, speak to their true character".

Ms Tiong tried unsuccessfully to sue the chief executive of HC Surgical Specialists, Dr Heah Sieu Min, for acquiring a 19 per cent stake in Dr Ong's firm.

The Court of Appeal said her case was "wholly unmeritorious" and that she was clearly on a "quest for revenge".

Ms Tiong also sued Dr Chan for medical negligence, claiming she developed a Xanax dependency because he freely prescribed the highly addictive pills, used to treat anxiety, to her.

The suit was dismissed last month by a High Court judge, who slammed Dr Chan for his "disgraceful use of women, including Ms Tiong, as his sex objects" even though he ruled against Ms Tiong.

Source: Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

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