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Woffles Wu in animated suspension

CONTROVERSIAL: Dr Wu's suspension has kick-started a debate on whether a medical practitioner should be barred for non-medical offences.


    Apr 08, 2014

    Woffles Wu in animated suspension

    FOR four months, Dr Woffles Wu will visit his clinic to write a musical, craft chapters of his books, and play the piano.

    But the one thing the well-known plastic surgeon will not be doing is seeing patients.

    He has been barred from practice for four months. The suspension kicked in on March 24.

    This follows a disciplinary inquiry held against the 54-year-old after he was fined $1,000 for getting an employee to take the rap for a speeding offence.

    Dr Wu was convicted in June 2012, but his suspension has kick-started a debate on whether a medical practitioner should be barred for non-medical offences.

    The Singapore Medical Council (SMC) disciplinary tribunal said yesterday that there were several aggravating factors in Dr Wu's case.

    It pointed out that his "wrongful act" was dishonest and premeditated and the medical profession could not condone it.

    It also took into account his seniority and found him to be "not entirely remorseful" as he had said that he had not given a second thought to what he did and believed that it was common to furnish false information to the Traffic Police.

    In suspending him for four months, it also noted that Dr Wu's offence is more serious than a tax offence, for which another doctor was suspended for three months.

    Doctors My Paper spoke to found the decision unusual.

    Dr Chia Shi-Lu, a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health, said that the SMC does not usually step in when the offence has nothing to do with a doctor's medical practice.

    He acknowledged, however, that every medical practitioner is held to high standards.

    Another parliamentarian, Dr Lim Wee Kiak, was also surprised by the suspension order.

    "Four months of suspension from driving I understand, but why medical practice?" he said.

    One senior doctor, who did not want to be named, pointed out that senior doctors are held to higher standards because younger doctors look up to them.

    "Society looks up to us, so in that sense, we are like politicians," he said.

    Dr Wu himself has accepted the decision and is not appealing against the decision.

    "We make mistakes. We live and we learn," he told My Paper in his clinic at Camden Medical Centre in Orchard Boulevard.

    He sees a silver lining of sorts in his suspension.

    "In a way, it is a break after the high stress of working continuously for 15 years," he said, adding that his days usually lasted 12 hours.

    But he still goes to his clinic, because that is where he finds that he is creative.

    He will also be training for two hours daily for upcoming squash tournaments, and spending more time with his wife and two children.

    As for his patients, they have shown patience.

    Dr Wu, who will resume practice on July 24, said: "They have been very understanding, they said they will wait."