Letters to the Editor
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"Singapore Medical Council Election"
The Singapore Medical Council (SMC)
held elections for two council members over 5 days from 28 October to 1 November 1998
under the new Medical Registration Act (MRA) passed by Parliament in 1997. Under Section 6
of the MRA, voting is compulsory and prescribed that registered medical practitioners
(RMP) who fail to vote may be asked to pay to the SMC the penalty. This penalty is
prescribed under new regulations passed in 1998 drawn up under Section 22 (3) and 58 of
the MRA. The regulations specified that the penalty is fixed for the time being at $500
As this is the first time compulsory election is held, the Singapore Medical Association (SMA) assisted in the publicity of the election and held a continuing dialogue with the SMC on various aspects of the election. The SMA Council has received much useful feedback from members, both written and oral, and also from the SMA legal advisors.
The SMA also wrote to the Law Society which confirmed that under the Legal Profession Act (LPA) governing compulsory voting by lawyers, a similar penalty of $500 applies to the advocates or solicitors who fail to vote and who are unable to give good and sufficient reasons. Unlike the voting for SMC however, the voting period under the LPA is only over one working day from 8.30 am to 6.00 pm and voting is compulsory in person by casting of ballot papers. No proxy voting is allowed. The venue of voting is at one location at the premises of the Law Society.
The Council would like to thank members who have contributed to the dialogue regarding various aspects of the SMC election and would like to highlight the following for the information of all members:Compulsory Election
Voting by RMP in an SMC election is compulsory by an Act of Parliament. The SMA-News has drawn a flow-chart to illustrate the processes of the SMC election and the various scenarios a RMP who did not vote can be in (see flow-chart). Please note that the Act involves the entitlement to apply for a practising certificate and not the RMP place on the SMC register. Therefore it is incorrect that a RMP can be de-registered for not voting under the present Act.
The SMA legal advisors have given the opinion that should a RMP find himself in scenario 3 (see flow-chart), paying the penalty prescribed (presently $500) should entitle the RMP to apply for the certificate again.
The SMA Council also notes that in the election held, the 90.2% of the 4,866 of the eligible voters who voted has been much more than the 10% to 15% in previous elections. Furthermore, the SMA learnt that the vast majority of those who did not vote had satisfied the SMC Registrar in that they had good and sufficient reasons of not voting, such as being overseas. We further understand that only a handful of RMP had the penalty imposed upon them.
THE VOTING PROCESS
Unlike the voting for the Law Society which must be held at a single physical venue over one working day and voting must be in person by the lawyer, the MRA allows for voting through electronic means and over a period of several days. The SMA also gave feedback by some members who voiced objections over the requirement to vote in person in the first election late last year.
The SMA is informed that in the next election for SMC Council to be held in April 1999, voting does not have to be done in person. Eligible voters may vote through any ordinary telephone under an automated telephone voting system which many doctors serving national service would be familiar with. The details would be given by the SMC.
The SMA Council would continue its dialogue with SMC and has offered its assistance through the SMA-News to disseminate information regarding the SMA election.
Singapore Medical Council's Announcement
The Singapore Medical Council will be conducting its election in April/May 99 to fill the vacancies of 5 elected members whose terms are ending in May 99. The exact dates of voting will be announced later.
The Council is working on an Automated Telephone Voting System for this election. This will allow voting to be conducted conveniently from any telephone. Every voter will be issued a Personal Voting Number by registered mail. What the voter needs to do is to dial the voting hotline and key in his Medical Council Registration Number and Personal Voting Number, and then select the codes of the candidates he wishes to vote for. A Voting Confirmation Number will be given to the voter at the end as proof of having cast the vote.The Council will be mailing details to the eligible voters shortly. All fully registered medical practitioners are reminded that voting is compulsory.
DR ARTHUR CHERN