Kwong Kwok-hay is a man with a mission. The surgeon who is fighting for the right of doctors to advertise hopes he can achieve this before he retires at the end of the year. 'I know I am doing the right thing,' Dr Kwong said of his legal challenge to the Medical Council's rules on advertising. 'Many doctors support me.' Dr Kwong, assistant medical superintendent of the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital, is confident of winning even if the council appeals against the Court of First Instance ruling in his favour. 'The judgment was very reasonable,' he said. The court found last month that sections of the Medical Council's code on professional conduct violated Basic Law provisions on freedom of speech and the Bill of Rights Ordinance. But the council is considering an appeal and has applied for an extension of the deadline for filing an appeal notice. It is seeking further advice from a London queen's counsel. Now in his 70s and with almost 50 years of professional practice behind him, Dr Kwong hopes to end the lawsuit in time for his planned retirement around Christmas. He spent most of the summer in the US with his son, also a doctor, and his family. 'I came back to Hong Kong mainly for the court case, which is the task I hope to complete as a way of ending my medical career. After that, I can enjoy my retirement and spend more time with my family.' Dr Kwong never intended the case to end up in court. Twice in the past two years, he sent letters to the council - one signed by 78 doctors and one attached to an opinion poll indicating that 80 per cent of those surveyed support doctors advertising - urging it to review its conservative code of practice. The response disappointed him. 'It allowed doctors to publish five types of services and fees on the internet [from March]. But why the internet and not the other media? It did not make sense,' he said. 'Finally, I had to seek clarification from the court.' The battle, as Dr Kwong describes it, began three years ago when two of the Sanatorium's doctors spoke in a magazine interview about liver cancer treatments. The council sent them a warning letter. Medical superintendent Walton Li Wai-tat and five ophthalmologists, who appeared in an advertisement promoting the hospital's Lasik eye-surgery centre last year, are also facing disciplinary hearings. The hospital decided to fight back, and Dr Kwong is determined to stay the course. So far, the hospital has spent nearly HK$3 million on the lawsuit. 'Some doctors, mostly general practitioners, say they are worried that they will be disadvantaged against the big hospitals and medical organisations if they advertise, but I think they just want to avoid competition. Patients have the right to compare different doctors' charges.'