The organisation that certifies Hong Kong’s doctors has ordered the six-month removal of a practitioner’s licence, suspended for three years, after he was sentenced to jail for participating in an unlawful assembly during the 2019 protests and unrest.

medical council
The Medical Council of Hong Kong. File photo.

The disciplinary inquiry against registered doctor Cheung Ka-chai was held by the Medical Council of Hong Kong on Friday. It marked the first case of a doctor’s professional qualification being reviewed over offences related to the 2019 protests.

Cheung was arrested during a protest in Yuen Long’s Yoho Mall I on Christmas’ Eve, 2019, when he was still a medical student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

He was wearing a T-shirt that read “Major in Revolution Rioters University” and carrying protest gear in his backpack, including a yellow safety helmet, a gas mask and safety goggles.

Cheung was found guilty of taking part in an unlawful assembly and sentenced in October 2021 to 20 months in prison by a magistrate, by which time he had become a registered doctor. Cheng’s jail term was later reduced to 14 months after he win an appeal at the High Court.

During the mitigation session at Friday’s hearing, Cheung said he did not violate a doctor’s professional conduct and did not intend to provoke clashes between the police and the public, local media reported.

first aid december 24
Protests broke out in shopping malls across multiple districts on December 24, 2019. File photo: Benjamin Yuen/United Social Press. File photo: Benjamin Yuen/United Social Press.

The doctor added that the nature of his offence was not a riot and he did not use any violence or cause injuries to others.

When handing down the judgement, local media reported that the head of Friday’s inquiry panel Grace Tang Wai-king said Cheung was a promising young doctor who had shown outstanding performance during his residency.

However, Tang said the council must also consider the nature and severity of the criminal offence in question, as well as the public’s confidence in the medical profession.

The panel then decided to delist Cheung from the list of registered general practitioners for six months, suspended for three years.

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.