A medical doctor has been suspended for nine months by a disciplinary tribunal court in Singapore.

A doctor has been suspended for nine months by a disciplinary tribunal after he was convicted of taking photos and videos of men changing in swimming pools’ toilets.

Dr Aaron Gan Tau Ming, who was a senior resident at Singapore General Hospital at the time of the offences, pleaded guilty to 16 charges, said the grounds of the decision published by the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) on Monday (Jan 31).

He was sentenced to six weeks’ imprisonment and fined S$14,900.

The offences took place from early 2016 to mid-2017 mainly in the toilets of Tampines SAFRA swimming pool and Queenstown swimming pool. While he was there, he took photographs and videos of men in the shower area of the toilets.

The men were in various states of undress, and some were nude, according to the grounds. Dr Gan took the photos and videos by placing his mobile phone to his ear and pretending he was talking to someone when he was taking the photos and videos by pointing the camera at the victims.

A man alerted the security officer at Tampines SAFRA swimming pool and the police were called in.

The tribunal heard that the videos and photos were only viewed by the doctor and were not in the public domain.

Of the 16 charges, 10 related to taking photographs, while four involved photos and videos. The remaining two offences relate to making obscene videos.

The SMC’s lawyer, Ms Shalini Mogan, asked for a 12-month suspension for the doctor, taking into consideration his “timely guilt of plea”.

She said the case involved multiple similar offences over a long period of time and involved “calculation and deliberation”.

Dr Gan’s defence lawyers, Ms Audrey Sim and Ms Joie Tan, said that the offences reflected his “moral failing” and that it has not impacted his professional duties, adding that he remained a “committed and outstanding doctor”.

They said that there was “no evidence of the fact that the victims were emotionally harmed”, adding that there was no physical contact with the victims.

According to the grounds of decision, Dr Gan was facing “immense feelings of social isolation” and preferred to spend time alone. He was “labouring under suppression” – described as a maladaptive psychological defence mechanism – as detailed in medical reports, said his lawyers.

“Simply put, he sought a substitute channel to expressing his homosexual orientation so as to keep his sexual orientation a secret,” according to the grounds.

A consultant in psychological medicine assessed his mental state in 2019 and in October 2021, Dr Gan’s lawyers said, adding that these “collectively refer to the respondent’s voyeuristic behaviour as conduct related to his attempts to avoid homosexual intimacy”.

They asked for a suspension of four months.

In response, the tribunal said that the personal mitigating circumstances of Dr Gan – in particular, the ridicule by his schoolmates and working colleagues arising from their insinuations about his sexual orientation, “certainly calls for understanding.

But they added that it bore “little relevance” to the proceedings.

“Almost without exception, every human being struggles at different times and to varying degrees with personal circumstances,” said the tribunal, according to their grounds.

“The call of a doctor requires that he overcomes his struggle without harming another. If he is not able to do so, to then have the courage to find help in addressing the challenge.

“There is indeed nothing to be ashamed of and everything to be gained from understanding one’s sexual orientation and ensuring that it is expressed in a way that does not compromise the interests of others.”

Calling competence and trustworthiness the “cornerstones of the practice of medicine”, they said he was “tasked daily” to respect the bodies of his patients.

These acts were done for the “sole purpose of gratifying his needs” and that he defiled the sanctity of the body he took an oath to protect, heal and restore.

It is almost impossible to gather evidence of the emotional stress endured by victims of these types of offences as it may not be evident in the short term and many may be embarrassed to speak about it, said the tribunal.

While acknowledging that Dr Gan is a “young doctor who has a long way to go in medical practice, they added that a signal must be clear that the behaviour that compromises the body and spirit of another will not be tolerated.

The tribunal also heard that he had resigned from service at Singapore General Hospital, and that he has “already paid a price with respect to his career”.

“He is willing to take steps to address his challenges and did not hesitate to plead guilty. We acknowledge his remorse and applaud his resolve,” said the tribunal.

Besides being suspended for nine months, he has to work with a psychiatrist of his choice with a view of “addressing the behaviour detailed in the charges” to prevent similar conduct when he resumes his duties.

Dr Gan was also ordered to pay the costs and expenses of the proceedings


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.