A Death in Hong Kong: an evolving essay and insight into medicine and the law in contemporary Hong Kong (part three). 

In the ensuing few months I came up with this idea of an Institute of Aesthetic Medicine.  

Chris Howse? I really do not know what gossip goes on between members of the legal profession when they are playing golf or sailing their ‘Sunday’ yachts. Chris knew that the prosecution had a good case, indeed a strong case. But, it was based on the opinion of one expert. Destroy that opinion, or destroy that expert, there is no case. 

I do not know when they began to work together but there is an extremely unhealthy relationship between Chris Howse and David Wong Sau-yan. Yes, Dr Wong was, and is, and I fear always will be, a disaster. He is the most dishonest, unethical, and unprofessional plastic surgeon that I have ever had the misfortune to meet. He fooled me. We appointed him in 2008. He was a fake. False qualifications on his CV; false claims of training on a publicly accessible website designed to help patients looking for private treatment. He was a dangerous surgeon. Complaints from patients, complaints from juniors, I had to restrict his activities. He did not really seem to mind as he preferred his armchair to the operating table. And he got into status pursuits: Chief Examiner of the Board of Plastic Surgery, President of the Hong Kong Society of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery (HKSPRAS). He was a Hospital Authority (Public) employee and I was employed by the University (Academic). He is a complicated character. He has three law degrees. Reduced to simplicity, I was the Head of the Team and he wanted my job. 

I do not know what murky things were going on in the background but in June 2012 Dr Wong sent a malicious and defamatory letter to all my junior staff and all the members of the HKSPRAS. He had heard about my ‘plans’ for an Institute of Aesthetic Medicine, incorporating research, teaching and treating and, critically, accreditation for students. It was this last bit that really worried the private plastic surgeons and so they had a series of late night meetings and letters were written.  

I have previously critically deconstructed the events of this time but simply this was the sequence: 

David Wong Sau-yan distributes a maliciously defamatory letter to my junior staff and to professional colleagues in the private sector. I approach a solicitor who is on the MPS panel and explain my concerns. I also explain why I have come to her firm.  JSM were very establishment and the senior partner of Howse Williams Bowers was involved in a case where there was an absolute conflict of interest that would prevent him being involved in my representation. So the lawyer reviewed the letter and considered it to be defamatory and contacted the MPS for advice. She was informed that the MPS would not fund legal action between doctors but they could fund the legal fees of a solicitor who was advising on the content of a letter that may be sent to counter the defamation. 

Okay. No problem. And then I receive a notification that David Wong has sent a formal letter of complaint that I have physically assaulted him.Again,this has been extensively deconstructed,so I have no reservation in saying this was an absolutely false and completely malicious complaint. The question though is why was he making it?  

But before addressing that question let me continue with the events. I already had a solicitor I could trust who was going to advise me on the response to the defamation and so I asked her to help me with this accusation that was going to be investigated by the Hospital Authority. I told the solicitor that I had no trust in the HA policies and protocols when it came to investigating complaints. This can be enlarged upon on another day but it presented a problem. This honest and ethical solicitor worked for a firm that had advised the HA on some of their procedural policies for investigating complaints and she felt that it would be an awkward conflict of interest for her to represent me. So she had been doing some phone calling and had eventually landed on Bernard Murphy.  

Now, Bernard was one of the new Partners introduced by Chris Howse to HWB. My solicitor was very much aware of the concerns I had expressed about the COI with Chris Howse or David Kan but Bernard reassured her that he would be dealing with my case and neither Chris nor David would be involved. There would be no COI. 

So Bernard began preparing a very robust defence. This was an allegation made with no supporting evidence, no witnesses. Just the rambling account of an impossible assault by a person who had just widely defamed me and had a history of dishonesty and disciplinary concerns.  

This is a good place to take a pause because the next bit is where things start to get very murky. To summarise, we have a girl who is unlawfully killed in Hong Kong. The solicitors who represent the surgeon primarily responsible for her death are in the process of setting up a new firm where the medico-legal division will be a stable income earner. Contracts are being discussed with the MPS, negotiations are underway about the naming of the new firm. Fancy central down town property is being sourced. High pressure, high stress and a lot of money involved. A high-profile case comes along but turns out to be a potential liability. The MPS are involved.  

The year that David Wong first sent his defamatory letter and then subsequently made a completely false and malicious allegation against me was the very same year that he was appointed as an MPS Associate. These are highly respected local doctors who can give initial support and advice on behalf of the MPS. I wonder how this disreputable creature, Dr David Wong Sau-yan was selected for this ‘honour’?! I wonder who endorsed his appointment? 

Andrew Burd (Prof)

The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

View Full Profile