Medical Council may face judicial review over breach

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 November, 2009, 12:00am

The Medical Council, which regulates doctors, could face a second judicial review after a court ruled that one of its election regulations breached the Basic Law.

The new judicial review was threatened by former medical sector lawmaker Dr Kwok Ka-ki, who said he had been banned from running in the annual election for a seat on the council on the basis that he had already run in a council by-election following the expulsion of Dr Tse Hung-hing. Kwok, also the convenor of the think tank Action Group on Medical Policy, said he would possibly launch a judicial review if lawyers agreed with him that it was a breach of human rights.

The judicial review already filed against the council is by Tse, after he was expelled for not declaring on his nomination form a HK$1,000 fine for careless driving when he ran for election as a council member in August last year. He had, however, reported his driving fine to the council a month before the election.

The Court of Final Appeal ruled last week that the rule under the Medical Registration Ordinance used to disqualify Tse breached Hong Kong's mini-constitution. Tse, also president of the separate Medical Association, which represents doctors, was immediately reinstated as a council member and also chairman of its ethics committee.

During the months when Tse was expelled, a by-election was planned to fill his seat. At the same time, another two seats were open for competition after the terms of doctors Joseph Sung Jao-yiu and Henry Yeung Chiu-fat ended. Sung and Yeung would rerun in what the members called an 'annual regular election'.

Kwok asked the council secretariat whether he could run in both the by- and regular elections, but was told he could not. 'It is a breach of my right to stand in elections,' he said, adding that if he wanted to enter the council, he would have to wait for next year's regular election.

The Action Group on Medical Policy said yesterday that council chairwoman Professor Felice Lieh Mak should step down after Tse's success in his judicial review.

'She knew the regulation was unjust, but did not proactively suggest an amendment,' Kwok said. 'Instead she allowed Dr Tse to be kicked out of the council.'

Lieh Mak, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, said earlier that the council was to execute the law, not amend the law.

The cost of the judicial review will be paid by the Department of Justice using taxpayers' money, as the council does not have funds of its own.