HIV data leak: Ler Teck Siang's medical registration suspended for nine months

Ler Teck Siang, the doctor at the centre of the HIV Registry data leak, has had his medical registration suspended for nine months and could face further disciplinary action, the Singapore Medical Council said in a statement on March 12, 2019. PHOTO: ST FILE

Ler Teck Siang, the doctor at the centre of the HIV Registry data leak, has had his medical registration suspended for nine months and could face further disciplinary action, the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) said on Tuesday. Doctors in Singapore must have an active registration with the council and have a valid certificate to practise here.

The suspension, which went into effect on March 7, was ordered by an Interim Orders Committee (IOC). It will issue the grounds of its decision "in due course".

SMC's announcement comes after Ler's appeal against his conviction and sentence over offences under the Penal Code was dismissed by a High Court judge on Monday.

Ler, 37, was convicted in the State Courts in September last year and sentenced to 24 months in jail.

The SMC said that, besides the seriousness of Ler's convictions, it took into account his pending drug charges as well as a pending charge under the Official Secrets Act for failing to take reasonable care of information from the HIV Registry.

Ler is scheduled to go on trial in May for the drug charges, including administering methamphetamine, possessing a syringe intended to be used for drugs and failing to provide a urine sample to the Central Narcotics Bureau.

While the SMC recognised that Ler's appeal had not been dismissed at the time of the suspension, it said it also took into account the need to maintain public confidence in the medical profession while the legal proceedings were ongoing.

"The information on the convictions and the pending charges was therefore referred to an IOC for the purpose of determining if it was necessary for the protection of members of the public or was otherwise in the public interest, or was in the interests of Dr Ler, that his registration be suspended or be made subject to conditions or restrictions."

Ler's practising certificate expired on Dec 31 last year. Its renewal had been under review following his convictions and sentencing. He will begin serving his sentence next Thursday.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2019, with the headline HIV data leak: Ler Teck Siang's medical registration suspended for nine months. Subscribe