The public outcry in 2012 at prominent plastic surgeon Woffles Wu’s $1,000 fine for getting a “pioneer generation” employee to take the rap for two speeding offences should quieten somewhat now. The Singapore Medical Council has suspended Wu from practice for four months till July 23.
The disciplinary tribunal did not impose a fine since the suspension was “deemed to already be financially punitive” and that the underlying offence committed was not financially motivated but to “save his own skin”.
Dr Wu’s seniority and standing in the medical profession was also found to be an aggravating factor, as he had “tarnished the good name of the profession”, “instead of setting a good example for younger practitioners to emulate”. The earlier sentence of $1,000 fine outraged Singaporeans and even led to a denial by Law Minister K Shanmugam that it was because of Wu’s standing and wealth.
He had committed the offences in 2005 and 2006, and the $1,000 fine was the maximum for fines, although the offence also carried a jail term of up to six months.
The tribunal felt that Dr Wu was not entirely remorseful as he had admitted (in a personal address during mitigation) that he had not given a second thought to what he did and that he believed it was a common practice to furnish false information to the Traffic Police for such offences.
The tribunal cited comparative suspensions for other offences: three months for a tax offence (Wu’s was “more serious”), and five months for forged claims against the Ministry of Defence (which was more serious than Wu’s).
On the public coutcry, the tribunal said: “Our society (is) outraged by acts of dishonesty by (doctors), especially those held in high esteem by peers and public.”
Wu told The Straits Times that he would not be appealing the tribunal’s decision but would go on holiday and prepare for the World Masters Squash Championship in Hong Kong in July.