10th MASEAN Mid-Term Meeting (Singapore)

The Singapore Medical Association (SMA) had the honour of hosting the 10th Mid-Term Meeting of the Medical Association of South East Asian Nations (MASEAN), which was held from 8 - 9 November 2002 at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel. The theme this year was “Medical Ethics and Professionalism in ASEAN”. The Mid-Term Meeting was held in conjunction with the SMA 6th Annual Ethics Convention.

We were joined by delegates from the medical associations of Cambodia, Indonesian, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Opening Ceremony

Prof Low Cheng Hock, President of SMA, welcomed all MASEAN delegates to Singapore and delivered the Opening Address. Prof Low said that strong medical associations in ASEAN are needed, to cooperate and work together to promote professionalism and ethics, and enhance the art of medical practice. Prof Sau Sok Khonn, Chairman of MASEAN and President of the Cambodian Medical Association (CMA), addressed and welcomed the delegates next. He expressed his full support for this year’s theme, and believed that the meeting would provide participants with opportunities to exchange valuable experiences. The Guest-of-Honour, Dr Balaji Sadasivan, Minister of State for Health and Environment, extended a warm welcome to all delegates. In his address, Dr Balaji spoke on the key changes in the healthcare sector that have the greatest potential impact on medical professionalism and the nature of the doctor-patient relationship. Firstly, the concern in nearly all countries about spiralling and unsustainable increases in healthcare costs has resulted in the introduction of numerous initiatives and mechanisms aimed at cost containment. Secondly, with the increasing level of education of patients and the ready availability of up-to-date medical information through the Internet, doctors may also be increasingly faced with the difficult task of balancing the delivery of costeffective treatment with rising patient expectations. Thirdly, doctors and medical professionals need to keep up with the rapid advances in medical science and practice. They also need to make their patients understand that not all medical information is applicable and appropriate for all situations.

Business Meeting

A/Prof Cheong Pak Yean, Secretary General of MASEAN, announced that he would be handing over his post to Dr Wong Chiang Yin, 2nd Vice President of SMA. Dr Wong accepted the post and noted that under A/Prof Cheong’s guidance, the MASEAN Secretariat’s operations have been running efficiently since 1995. The meeting continued with a report by the Chairman of the Taskforce on GATS & AFAS, and country reports from the MASEAN member associations. (See side box for highlights.) The Indonesian Medical Association also reported on its preparations for the hosting of the 11th MASEAN Conference in Bali, from 12 - 13 December 2003. The theme for next year will centre on family physicians.

Meeting of the Ethics Chairman

The session was chaired by Dr T. Thirumoorthy, Director of the SMA Centre for Medical Ethics and Professionalism. Dr Thirumoorthy started the session by presenting the lead paper on “The Evolution of Ethics in SMA”. This was followed by country reports from the medical associations of Malaysia and Thailand on “The Problems and Areas of Common Cooperation in Ethical Issues”.


The MASEAN Dinner was held on 9 November 2002. The Guest-of-Honour was Prof Tan Chorh Chuan, Director of Medical Services, Ministry of Health. In his address, Prof Tan said that to maintain and strengthen the trust and the special nature of the doctor-patient relationship, the profession needs to continue to focus on two key areas. Firstly, patients must have confidence that their doctors are keeping apace of changes and practising good and up-to-date medicine. Hence, the Singapore Medical Council has made continuing medical education a mandatory requirement for all doctors practising in Singapore from 2003. Secondly, there is a need to articulate clearly and simply, the key concepts and principles of medical ethics, and to find ways to apply them, and make them relevant, to daily clinical practice. During the second half of the MASEAN Dinner, the SMA CMEP was officially launched, together with its first publication “Medical Malpractice in Singapore”. Autographed copies were presented to all the dinner guests.