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Doctor who won libel case wants to move on but woman wants to continue fight

A ruling from the disciplinary tribunal of the Singapore Medical Council is still forthcoming

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Singapore — While the doctor who filed and won a defamation case is hoping to move on and put it behind him, the woman who lost the suit last month is determined to continue her fight, according to a report from Yahoo! Singapore.

“Just let bygones be bygones and move on with life,” Dr Julian Ong Kian Peng is quoted as saying, expressing the hope that Ms Serene Tiong would move on and leave the past behind.

But Ms Tiong, 42, is determined to keep on fighting. While she no longer has her position as business development manager at Thomson Medical Centre, she is now working three jobs to pay her legal fees.

She is a swabber, a part-time health screener and an insurance agent, according to the Yahoo! report.

On Oct 2, High Court Justice See Kee Oon overturned a decision of District Judge Lynette Yap from earlier this year, finding that Dr Ong and Dr Chan Herng Nieng, Dr Ong’s friend and the former lover of Ms Tiong, did not take sexual advantage of her.

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Ms Tiong was ordered to pay S$40,000 of the costs incurred for the lawsuit and appeal, as well as damages to Dr Ong.

She had claimed that Dr Ong and Dr Chan had colluded to take sexual advantage of their vulnerable women patients.

Ms Tiong and Dr Chan had been in a relationship in 2017 but separated in 2018, after she saw screenshots of messages between Dr Chan and Dr Ong regarding their sexual exploits.

Dr Ong had been friends with Dr Chan since medical school but barely knew Ms Tiong.

She filed a complaint with the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) concerning the alleged misconduct of the doctors towards some women patients, including herself.  This complaint was also forwarded to to Singapore General Hospital, where Dr Chan was a senior consultant psychiatrist.

Dr Ong filed a defamation suit against Ms Tiong in July 2018. In April this year, District Judge Lynette Yap ruled in Ms Tiong’s favour but the decision was overturned by the High Court in October.

Furthermore, Ms Tiong was issued an injunction restraining her from further defamatory comments. Her final bid to appeal in the defamation case was turned down on Nov 20.

However, a ruling from the disciplinary tribunal of the SMC is still forthcoming. Interim orders were issued to the doctors by a committee appointed by the SMC, which included being prohibited from contacting “female patients for any purposes that are outside the scope of medical practice” as part of restrictions lasting 18 months.

In addition, Ms Tiong has continued to pursue a separate lawsuit against Dr Chan due to reportedly recklessly or negligently prescribing anxiety medications, wherein she seeks $200,000 in costs for lifelong psychiatric treatment.

She told Yahoo! Singapore: “Just do what you believe is right. I think, at the end of the day, your conscience is clear. You don’t benefit from anything from a lawsuit.”

Meanwhile, Dr Ong has maintained his innocence. “People who know me, who have been my own patients, understand I’m not the kind of person. I reiterate that I have never done anything to any patient, no ulterior motives, and have never, will never be unprofessional.”

With regard to Ms Tiong, the doctor said: “I wish that she would just move on from this failed relationship (between Tiong and Dr Chan) and move on gracefully. We still (have) many years ahead of us, why do we need to harp on this? How long do you need to hold a grudge?” /TISG

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