WOULD you call on casino magnate Dr Stanley Ho to cure the crick in your neck? Or ask environment guru Dr Stuart Reed to deal with your diseases? If you're wise you would not - but tell the law drafters at the Legal Department. For they have gazetted a bill designed to prevent just such faux pas. Now doctors of philosophy, law, drama and other fields are indignant about the draft which would stop them using their hard-won academic titles. And the discontented docs are venting their spleens with words like 'ridiculous', 'tunnel vision' and 'messed up'. The Medical Registration (Amendment) Bill 1995, which awaits discussion in the Legislative Council, says anyone who uses the title 'doctor' implies they are qualified to practise medicine or surgery. Only vets, dentists, registered medical practitioners or those approved by Medical Council can be a 'doctor', says the bill. Others would be breaking the law and face a fine and up to three years in jail. But where does this leave Shun Tak boss Dr Stanley Ho (an honorary doctor of social sciences) or Environmental Protection Department director Dr Stuart Reed (a doctor of engineering)? Professor Andrew Parkin of the Chinese University's honorary degree committee suggests the 'real' doctors are academics who hold a doctorate - rather than medics who hold a Bachelor of Medicine. 'They're saying that only people with medical degrees can call themselves a doctor? That's ridiculous,' said Professor Parkin, a Doctor of Philosophy (Drama). 'Universities around the world confer doctorates on people whose studies are nothing to do with medicine. An equally-old subject at universities is theology amd philosophy; those doctorates were conferred in the Middle Ages.' University of Hong Kong law lecturer Nihal Jayawickrama, himself a Doctor of Philosophy (Law), said the drafters seemed to have been overly-zealous in weeding out white-coated pretenders. 'The mischief they were probably trying to remedy is the people who are not qualified medical practitioners, but are holding themselves out as such,' said Dr Jayawickrama. 'But their own remedy is like one of those very strong antibiotics - it goes way beyond the intention. 'It's another one of those things the Attorney-General's Chambers is becoming infamous for . . . tunnel vision.' Law drafters will have a tough time seeking allies, even among those who can call themselves doctors under the Government's new bill. Medical legislator Dr Leong Che-hung said the bill - an adulteration of his own proposal - was drawn up without consulting the Medical Council. 'Stanley Ho is a doctor, Stuart Reed is a doctor, [legislator] Samuel Wong is a doctor . . . this bill would have been a very simple one, had it not been that the Government messed it all up,' Dr Leong said. Professor Parkin - whose committee has conferred honorary doctorates on Sir Run Run Shaw, Lady Dunn and Chief Justice Sir Ti Liang Yang - insists medical types have no monopoly on the title. 'It's only people who know very little about higher degrees at universities who would make such a mistake,' said Professor Parkin. 'I have a doctorate - and a red gown and cap to prove I have the degree. I'm not going to have any legal profession telling me I can't call myself a doctor. 'It will create a lot of mirth in the legislature.' THEY MIGHT FAIL A MEDICAL Professor Milton Friedman, economics guru: Doctorates in literature and philosophy from Columbia University, Rockford College and Bethany College in the United States, St Paul's University in Tokyo and Francisco Marroquin University in Guatemala. Henry Kissinger, former United States secretary of state: Doctorate in government from Harvard University in 1954. Stanley Ho, casino magnate: Honorary doctorate in Social Sciences from Macau's University of East Asia in 1984, and in Social Sciences from the University of Hong Kong in 1987. Lee Teng-hui, Taiwan President: Doctorate in agricultural economics at Cornell University, New York, in 1968. Honorary doctorates conferred by the University of Hong Kong include: Lady Dunn; Corazon Aquino; Li Ka-shing; Sir William Purves; Chief Justice Sir Ti Liang Yang.