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03 May 2019

A Melbourne doctor who called online for women to be raped has been stood down from the hospital he works for pending an investigation into his behaviour.

This follows a six-week suspension order imposed by a Tasmanian jurisdiction, which was widely condemned as insufficient.

The Tasmanian Health Practitioners Tribunal ordered Christopher Kwan Chen Lee, 31, be suspended for six weeks over “numerous inappropriate and offensive comments” he made on a Singaporean online forum in 2016.

At the time the posts were made, Dr Lee was a registrar at the Royal Hobart Hospital, but he has been an emergency registrar in Victoria since 2018. The suspension, however, bars him from working anywhere in Australia.

Amid an outcry that the penalty was too light, Eastern Health, the health district in Victoria responsible for the Box Hill Hospital where Dr Lee is currently employed, began its own investigation into the implications of the Tasmanian tribunal’s finings.

While the initial suspension was not set to begin until some weeks after the decision was made, Eastern Health has stood Dr Lee down immediately.

“Dr Lee will not be returning to work until the completion of this investigation,” Eastern Health said in a statement.

“We wish to advise that Eastern Health takes the issue of professional misconduct very seriously.

“We value diversity, inclusivity and living together respectfully and do not tolerate disrespectful comments or racism in any form.”

The AMA has condemned Dr Lee’s actions, saying attitudes that condone violence against women “have no place in the medical profession”

Dr Chris Moy, Chair of the AMA’s Ethics and Medico-legal Committee said the same level of behaviour and the same respect for dignity of patients and the community must be maintained on social media.

“I’m upset that this has occurred. Doctors should clearly be above this,” Dr Moy said.

“The ability to stay above this sort of behaviour has to be at the forefront of doctors’ minds when they act, especially when they interact with the community.”

AMA Victoria President, Associate Professor Julian Rait said: “Attitudes that condone racism or promote violence against women really have no place in the medical profession.”

Dr Lee, who is from Malaysia but studied medicine in Melbourne, has regularly commented from Australia to an online forum based in Singapore. He has used the forum to make numerous offensive remarks, including “some women deserve to be raped” and “she needs to be abandoned in India and repeatedly raped in order for her to wake up her idea” and “don’t bother helping that nation of ingrates” (in reference to the tsunami that hit Indonesia last September.

He has reportedly also posted naked photos on the internet of a woman who criticised him online.

He has boasted about his sex life and said of his wife “If my marriage fell apart, it would not end in divorce. It would end in murder.”

An online petition, started by sexual assault service Laurel House, is calling for Dr Lee’s licence to practice medicine to be revoked.

CHRIS JOHNSON

*Picture from Facebook account


Published: 03 May 2019