Chinese sinseh appeals against suspension

Mr Chua (left) says Prof Koo prejudged him and influenced the panel to find him guilty of professional misconduct.
Mr Chua (above) says Prof Koo prejudged him and influenced the panel to find him guilty of professional misconduct.

He hopes to overturn three-year ban, on grounds that he was not given a fair hearing

A traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner, who was handed a three-year suspension last year for advising a cancer patient to delay surgery, is fighting to quash the decision on grounds that he was not given a fair and just hearing.

Mr Chua Beng Chye alleged that a member of the five-person committee that heard his case, an oncologist, was biased and had prejudged him and influenced the rest of the panel to find him guilty of professional misconduct.

Near the end of the disciplinary hearing, Associate Professor Koo Wen Hsin from the National Cancer Centre of Singapore had described Mr Chua as a "highly dangerous man" and a "menace" who had no regard for patient safety.

The case arose from a complaint made by the son of a 66-year-old woman who was diagnosed with breast and lung cancer. On Nov 3, 2014, a day before her scheduled operation, the woman went to see Mr Chua, who gave her three options.

He told her she could go for surgery and rely on Western medicine for recovery; go for surgery and rely on TCM for recovery; or postpone surgery for three months and undergo TCM treatment. The patient did not go for the scheduled operation.

The next day, her son confronted Mr Chua and the operation was eventually carried out on Nov 8, 2014. The woman is still recovering.

More than a week later, the son complained to the Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Board, listing concerns that Mr Chua had misled her into believing that TCM alone could cure her cancer, among other things. The son's complaint was to prevent other patients from falling into the fallacy and delaying mainstream treatment.

During the three-day hearing before the committee, the board's lawyer, Ms Rebecca Chew, questioned Mr Chua's basis for telling the patient there was a risk of cancer cells spreading if she underwent surgery. Mr Chua replied that he was subject to his "own idea... own opinion... own knowledge".

This was cited by Prof Koo when he remarked that Mr Chua was "highly dangerous". He noted that Mr Chua did not have oncology knowledge, such as cancer staging.

After the committee, which included three TCM practitioners, released its findings in February last year, the board handed down a three-year suspension and a $10,000 penalty. Mr Chua appealed to the High Court.

Yesterday, his lawyer, Mr Lim Tong Chuan, argued that Prof Koo had humiliated his client. He said the inquiry went beyond the scope of the complaint, the committee's findings were erroneous and the punishment meted out excessive.

But Ms Chew argued that Prof Koo had questioned Mr Chua not to humiliate him but to test him and understand his treatment method.

The hearing has been adjourned.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2017, with the headline 'Chinese sinseh appeals against suspension'. Print Edition | Subscribe