Cheers for exam reprieve
The public gallery cheered as a bill exempting some overseas medical students from further examinations was passed by an overwhelming majority.
The Medical Registration (Transitional Provisions) Bill 1997, proposed by Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee of the Liberal Party, won cross-party support to grant an estimated 600 overseas medical students a grace period to register in Hong Kong without an examination.
Under the new arrangement, local medical students who studied at or graduated from 38 recognised foreign institutes before September 1996 can return to register for practice two years after graduation.
Legislation passed in 1995 requiring overseas medical graduates to sit an examination before being allowed to practise locally drew opposition from parents and medical students who had gone abroad before that bill was passed.
Mrs Chow said the chamber had neglected this group of students and should 'make things right now'.
Mok Ying-fan of the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood said many students studying abroad were not consulted before the amendment was passed.
'The arrangement did not exist when they joined the medical courses overseas, and it is not fair to impose the requirements on them,' he said.
Dr Leong Che-hung, representing the medical functional constituency, alone opposed the change.
Dr Leong said the bill interfered with professional autonomy because it ignored opposition from the profession and was proposed by someone outside the profession.
'My referendum of local doctors showed 85 per cent of the respondents are against the exemptions,' Dr Leong said.
'The legislators did not understand the issue. I feel deeply sorry for them,' he said.