Malaysian professor in Hong Kong yoga ball murder trial ‘avant-garde’ and ‘well ahead’ of other doctors
Former colleague portrays anaesthesiologist accused of killing wife and daughter as a much sought-after doctor willing to push boundaries
A Malaysian professor accused of lethally poisoning his wife and daughter in Hong Kong with a gas-filled yoga ball was on Monday praised in court as an avant-garde anaesthesiologist known for helping out with high-risk medical procedures.
Khaw Kim Sun, 53, was “well ahead” of other doctors when it came to adopting innovative techniques and new drugs for use in childbirth, his former colleague Leung Tak-yeung, a gynaecologist, told Khaw’s murder trial at the High Court.
“He is a very professional, very skilled anaesthetist,” the chairman of Chinese University’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology said.
Leung was testifying in defence of Khaw, an associate professor at the university who is in the dock over the deaths of his wife, Wong Siew Fing, 47, and daughter, Lily Khaw Li Ling, 16, on May 22, 2015.
He has denied two counts of murder.
Prosecutors previously spelled out their belief that Khaw had placed a yoga ball leaking carbon monoxide in his wife and daughter’s car. Doctors testified that an experiment Khaw had carried out to obtain the gas was without value.
However, Leung on Monday portrayed Khaw as a much sought-after doctor willing to push boundaries.
Yoga ball murder trial: putting deadly gas in ball was extremely dangerous and a crazy thing for Malaysian professor to do, expert tells Hong Kong court
He said Khaw, who used to work at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin, was very skilled. Leung would seek Khaw’s advice on anaesthesia in high-risk cases, especially those involving women giving birth by caesarean section.
“He has an avant-garde view on [helping] high-risk women with serious bleeding,” said Leung, who worked with Khaw for more than a decade.
Leung said one drug long applied to help stem serious blood loss in patients with traumatic injury had been pioneered by Khaw for use on women suffering from bleeding during delivery.
The department chairman had even sought Khaw’s help when his own sister gave birth, he said.
But the pair once teamed up a decade ago on research Leung considered unnecessary, he added.
Khaw had wanted to investigate whether applying anaesthesia could be beneficial in cases where a mother has to be massaged to ensure a baby is delivered headfirst instead of buttocks first.
Yoga ball murder trial: Malaysian professor won’t take stand in own defence as prosecution witness says accused acted unethically when experimenting with gas
Leung said Hong Kong doctors had already achieved a 70 per cent success rate in altering the delivery direction with massage alone – a figure other countries required the help of anaesthesia to achieve.
Nevertheless, Khaw had proposed pressing ahead anyway in search of further improvement, and Leung was eventually convinced. The results were later published in a prestigious medical journal.
The gynaecologist often also organised medical conferences and liked to invite Khaw to speak, he added.
“He would question some traditional views,” Leung said. He called Khaw an inspiring speaker.
The trial will continue on Tuesday before Mrs Justice Judianna Barnes Wai-ling.