‘Doctors will stay silent to avoid trouble’

A former president of the Hong Kong Public Doctors’ Association, Arisina Ma, said on Wednesday that she expects medical professionals to increasingly refrain from criticising the government and its healthcare policy to avoid getting into trouble.

She made the remarks after two doctors’ groups recently disbanded.

The pro-democracy Médecins Inspirés announced on its social media page in the early hours of Wednesday that it decided to dissolve after months of discussion, without giving any reasons.

The concern group was formed in 2015 with the aim of striving for a fair electoral system.

The Frontline Doctors Union also announced on Monday that it was disbanding because it was unable to find a new chairperson.

Ma told RTHK that professionals like doctors have become increasingly unsure whether they can still openly discuss political issues, one year after the sweeping national security law came into place in the SAR.

“I’m quite sure that the medical professionals will be less and less likely to openly give opinions about healthcare issues or criticise the government’s healthcare policy,” she said.

“It is because even though we only target the healthcare issues, we may be labeled as [making] political moves, so we’ll try our best to avoid that.”

Ma added that it has become more difficult for unions to recruit new members or invite them to take up leadership roles as people feel their hands are tied under the current political climate.

Going forward, she said she believes her own group, the Hong Kong Public Doctors’ Association, will also focus on members’ welfare issues, rather than comment on local healthcare policies.