Felice Lieh Mak was re-elected Medical Council chairwoman yesterday for a fourth three-year term, drawing criticism from some that a 12-year leadership was too long. Professor Lieh Mak defeated former Hong Kong Medical Association president Choi Kin by a vote of 16-12 at a council meeting. The chair of the watchdog is regarded as a prestigious position in the medical profession. The council has the statutory power to lay down ethical rules on doctors, and discipline those who misbehave. Dr Choi said the result of the vote was not 'surprising at all', adding: 'It is enough for one person to be a chairman of the council for one to two terms. Having one person in this position for such a long time will suffocate new ideas.' Of the 28 council members who have the right to elect the chairman, seven are nominated by the Medical Association and seven are directly elected by registered doctors. The government appoints four lay members. The director of health, Chinese University, the University of Hong Kong, the Academy of Medicine and the Hospital Authority each nominate two members. The council's makeup means there is an equal split between appointed and elected members. Council sources said that while Dr Choi gained support from representatives of the Medical Association and most directly elected members, Professor Lieh Mak won votes from most appointed members. Private family doctor Donald Lee Kwok-tung said he had voted for Professor Lieh Mak because he wanted her to continue with her work. But another council member, Paul Shea Tat-ming, said 12 years was a lengthy period. 'Even the chief executive or the US president has definite terms to serve. The Medical Council has been quite conservative and has not made enough probes into the public health care system.' Fellow member Tse Hung-hing, also president of the Medical Association, agreed that Professor Lieh Mak's 12-year leadership of the council was too long: 'It will hinder new ideas from being put in the council.' Professor Lieh Mak was chairwoman from 1997 to 2000 and was re-elected for 2003 to 2006, and then from 2006 to this year. She started her fourth three-year term yesterday. 'Six years [as the chairwoman] is already too long, but I have unfinished tasks to do,' she said after the election. 'I am 68 and I am tired already. But if they think I am not suitable for the job, they can vote for another person.' Professor Lieh Mak is an emeritus professor in psychiatry at HKU and a private practitioner.