Hong Kong government dentist gets maximum 240 hours of community service over free treatment and fake records

She booked her brother even though he wasn’t eligible for clinic because she deemed his recommended care inadequate

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 September, 2016, 3:14pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 September, 2016, 10:15pm

A retiring senior government dentist who faked appointment records to make time for administrative work and offer free dental treatment to her brother was slapped a maximum penalty of 240 hours of community service on Tuesday.

Janet Lau Wing-kam, 54, pleaded guilty last month to two counts of access to a computer with criminal or dishonest intent and another of fraud.

Kwun Tong Court heard that Lau had, since April 2013, supervised Madam Yung Fung Shee Health Centre in Kwun Tong, a government clinic that provides free dental services to eligible persons such as pensioners, civil servants and their dependents.

All appointments were logged into a computer system to manage records as well as to assess Lau’s performance.

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The records showed she logged an appointment for retired civil servant Kwan Ka-lun on June 5, 2014, and made another for Correctional Services employee Wong Yeung-fai on May 5 last year — despite neither of them booking appointments.

Defence counsel Thomas Iu had explained that these appointments were falsified because Lau needed to make time for handling the clinic’s administrative paperwork.

But the records also revealed Lau logged an appointment for her husband Wong Tsz-kit in August last year when in fact it was her brother who showed up, despite his not being eligible for the clinic.

The offence was no doubt serious
Peony Wong Nga-yan, magistrate

The court heard Lau had wanted to personally treat her brother because the dentists he was recommended were not in her view adequate and she believed she could offer the best treatment to her family.

The free session, including an X-ray scan, was valued at HK$1,430.

Magistrate Peony Wong Nga-yan said the sum involved, which Lau has already repaid, was not high but it was taxpayer money.

“The offence was no doubt serious,” she said.

The magistrate also stated Lau ought to have discussed with her superiors her need for time to handle other duties, instead of concealing the matter from them.