SINGAPORE — By getting an employee to take the rap for his speeding offence, prominent plastic surgeon Woffles Wu has not only committed a traffic offence, but also subverted the course of justice through his dishonest act — conduct the medical profession will not condone, a disciplinary tribunal convened by the Singapore Medical Council has ruled.
The council said yesterday it has censured Dr Wu and suspended him from medical practice for four months. The 54-year-old was also ordered to give a written undertaking that he will not engage in any similar conduct. Dr Wu was fined S$1,000 in June, 2012, after he asked Mr Kuan Kit Wah to take the rap for his speeding offences, committed in 2005 and 2006.
The fine sparked off questions about why the prosecution did not pursue stiffer charges, as well as suggestions of favouritism.
The episode also led to an exchange between Workers’ Party Chairman Sylvia Lim and Law Minister K Shanmugam in Parliament over the equitability of the legal system.
Making public its nine-page grounds of decision yesterday, the three-member tribunal said it was “perturbed” by an argument by Ms Mak Wei Munn, Dr Wu’s lawyer, that the offence committed had no impact on the plastic surgeon’s medical practice.
However, the offence involved premeditation, preparation and was calculated to “save his own skin”, said the tribunal.
“We cannot overemphasise that every medical practitioner is expected to carry the hallmarks of integrity and honesty whether in his professional or personal capacity,” the tribunal said. “Any act of dishonesty from a medical practitioner tarnishes and brings disrepute to the medical profession as a whole.”
Ms Mak also argued that a censure and a fine would be fair, saying the courts had imposed only a fine. The tribunal, headed by Professor Ho Lai Yun, rejected Ms Mak’s argument.
“We are persuaded that this is a fitting case to impose an appropriate suspension to deter like-minded medical practitioners from allowing others to take the rap on their behalf whether in the context of the Road Traffic Act or otherwise,” the tribunal said.
“Every medical practitioner must have the moral and professional courage to face and accept the legal consequences of their own actions. The medical profession expects it. As witnessed in this saga, our society expects it too.”
The tribunal said Dr Wu’s seniority and standing in the medical profession was an aggravating factor. “Instead of setting a good example for younger practitioners to emulate, (Dr Wu’s) dishonesty had tarnished the good name of the profession,” the tribunal said.
Further, it noted the lack of remorse shown by Dr Wu, as he did not give a second thought when committing the offence and claimed that it was a common practice to furnish false information to the Traffic Police for such offences and that even some senior medical practitioners were doing so. “We were rather alarmed by (Dr Wu’s) thought process and in particular his lack of remorse for what he has done,” the tribunal said.