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Australian medical board suspends Singaporean doctor for offensive statements on Hardware Zone

The Independent logo The Independent 22/4/2019 Anna Maria Romero
a close up of a map © The Independent Singapore

A Singaporean doctor living in Australia has been suspended by the country’s medical board for inappropriate statements he made online. Not only has he received a six-week long ban from practicing medicine, but he has also been required to attend classes in ethical behaviour and communications, specifically when using social media.

Dr Lee Kwan Chen, age 31, faced the Tasmanian Health Practitioners Tribunal over claims from the Medical Board of Australia that he had engaged in professional misconduct because of several offensive and inappropriate comments he made on forums on Hardware Zone, a Singapore-based tech portal.

From February 2016 to 2018, Dr Lee had been employed with the Tasmania Health Service.

He had posted two pictures on the site’s forum that featured his degree certificates and dressed in doctor’s garb.

In December 2017, Dr Lee commented on an article about a lawyer in Egypt who had received a three-year jail sentence for because he had said that as a punishment for wearing torn jeans, women deserved to be raped.

The Singaporean doctor wrote, “I’m surprised they didn’t give him a medal instead.”

Only one month later, on commenting if his marriage would fail, he wrote, “it would not end in divorce, it would end in murder”.

In 2016 he had written, “Some women deserve to be raped, and that supercilious little ***** fits the bill in every way.”

Dr Lee attempted to clarify his controversial comments, by saying that what he said in 2016 was in “the context of a socio-political situation in Singapore/ Malaysia where as a result of certain events, a local female college student made disparaging remarks about (national) servicemen”.

According to The New Paper, even as the doctor acknowledged that these comments may be viewed by some to be misogynistic, racist, or unduly provocative he claimed that his perspectives did not change how he cared for his patients.

He also admitted that being angry had affected his judgments when he made the comments. He said that during the time he posted the controversial remarks, he had been fairly inexperienced and immature, and tended to voice his opinion on social media.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and Dr Lee made joint submission stating that the doctor’s views had no bearing on his practice of medicine, and attested that he had never been guilty of discrimination nor of acting in a belittling or disparaging manner toward the people toward whom he had made his controversial remarks on the Hardware Zone forums.

Nevertheless, Robert Webster, the chairman of the tribunal, had Dr Lee reprimanded and given a six-week suspension beginning in May./TISG

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