Doctor in Australia suspended for posting misogynistic comments on Hardwarezone forum

He said his views did not affect his professionalism.

Matthias Ang | April 22, 2019, 04:48 PM

An Australian-based doctor has been suspended by the medical tribunal Down Under for posting offensive comments to Singapore's Hardwarezone forum.

The doctor, Lee Kwan Chen, has been working for the Tasmania Health Service since February 2016, in the Australian state of Victoria.

According to The Straits Times, Lee was brought by the Medical Board of Australia to the Tasmanian Health Practitioners Tribunal as a result of his online statements.

Lee has been slapped with a six-week suspension from practice, starting in May, and an order to go for classes on ethical behaviour and communications, especially for social media.

What did he say?

The medical tribunal referenced comments that Lee had made in December 2017 and January 2018, ST reported.

In December 2017, Lee expressed surprise that a male Egyptian lawyer had been imprisoned for three years instead of being given a medal, for stating that women who wore ripped jeans should be raped as punishment.

Lee wrote in a comment on the forum: "I'm surprised they didn't give him a medal instead."

As for his January 2018 comment, Lee wrote that in the event his marriage fell apart, "it would not end in divorce, it would end in murder".

Lee might have outed himself

While the tribunal noted that the comments were posted after-hours, it was not clear how they came to be alerted of Lee's posts.

But ST noted that Lee had revealed himself at one point on the Hardwarezone forum when he posted two photographs that showed him in medical attire, with his degree certificates.

Posts did not affect professional duties

In defending himself, a joint submission by Lee and the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency highlighted that his online comments did not affect his professional duties towards patients, ST highlighted.

It further explained that Lee had not shown any discriminatory behaviour towards the groups that his comments were supposedly antagonistic towards.

In attempting to clarify his defence further, Lee pointed to another comment he made in 2016, in which he had written: "Some women deserve to be raped, and that supercilious little ***** fits the bill in every way."

Here, Lee explained that the comment had been made in the context of "a socio-political situation in Singapore/ Malaysia where as a result of certain events, a local female college student made disparaging remarks about (national) servicemen".

Lee acknowledged that while his comments had been made at a time when he was young, inexperienced and opinionated, and that they could be perceived as inflammatory, misogynistic or racist, they had not affected his professionalism.

Tribunal rules online posts as misogynistic, unbecoming of profession

In handing down its sentence to Lee, the tribunal stated that the posts were misogynistic, unacceptable and unbecoming of a doctor, ST highlighted.

The tribunal stated that the posts "convey socially unacceptable and extreme sentiments, which are disrespectful to women and comment upon violence towards or sexual abuse of women".

In elaborating on their charge and sentence, the tribunal chairman, Robert Webster, added that Lee's conduct amounted to professional misconduct and that the posts made his behaviour all the more serious, when taken together.

As such, the aim of the sentence was to serve as a deterrence against such conduct and to maintain the professional reputation of medical practitioners.

What is Hardwarezone?

Hardwarezone is a brand under SPH Magazines Pte Ltd, which according to the company, "is the leading online I.T.  portal in Asia Pacific, covering the latest trends in technology with in-depth reviews, commentary and price information".

SPH Magazines further describes the website as having the largest forum in the region for the discussion of all things related to tech, leisure and lifestyle.

Top image collage from Pixabay and screenshot from Hardwarezone