Doc believed she had religious debt to pay
Suffering from depression, doc attacks her father as they 'owed God $150,000'
Her depression led her to think the world was ending and that her father had to repay $150,000 "owed to God".When her father refused, the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) senior consultant went to his clinic, held a knife to his neck and threatened him.
For her actions, Tham Kwang Wei, 43, was sentenced yesterday to 12 months of supervised probation.
Tham heads the Obesity and Metabolism unit at the SGH Life Centre.
On Sept 30, 2014, Tham went to her father's clinic at Whampoa Drive to ask him to return her money he owed God.
When Dr Tham Ngiap Boo, 81, refused, she held a knife to his neck, saying that he either had to give her a cheque for $150,000 or follow her to the bank to withdraw the money.
He tried to push her away and call for help as they were alone in the consultation room.
When a clinic assistant opened the door, Tham pushed the woman away and forced her father to sit on a chair, placing an armlock around his neck.
Tham also bit her father's left forearm.
After she was arrested, Tham was diagnosed with depression with psychotic features.
Her lawyer, Mr Selva K. Naidu, told the court that there was a link between her mental disorder and her offence.
The trouble started some time in June 2013 when Dr Tham stopped attending and making monthly contributions to the church he and his daughter attended.
It is not known which church they attended, but the court was told that it is now defunct and remains only as a fellowship.
Tham felt that her father would have to repay the money or untoward things would happen to their family.
This was exacerbated when a nanny who had worked for the family and Dr Tham's clinic for over 40 years was the victim of a brutal murder-suicide by her own daughter in June 2014.
Tham felt the urgency of the matter and tried to press her father into repaying the money.
Since her diagnosis, Tham has been receiving treatment and consistently attending follow-up sessions.
Before handing down the sentence, Community Court Judge Mathew Joseph noted that Tham was not a typical offender who was motivated by greed, personal gain or selfish reasons.
In fact, she is highly respected in her profession.
"This case is a stark reminder of the dangers of untreated depression. (The illness) can come up suddenly and destroy a person's life overnight," he said.
The judge added that this case should serve as a reminder to all institutions to pay heed to unusual behaviour, providing assistance when necessary.
Addressing Tham, he said: "You have healed many people with your skills. Now is the time for your own healing, and for you to seek the help of others."
As Tham can still practice medicine, the judge felt that she is already serving the community through her work and waived the community service requirement in her sentence.
Responding to queries from The New Paper, Chairman of SGH's Division of Medicine, Associate Professor Chow Wan Cheng, called the episode an unfortunate personal crisis for Tham.
He said the hospital and her colleagues are putting their full support behind her as she undergoes treatment.
"We would like to assure patients that Dr Tham (Kwang Wei) was certified to be medically fit for practice by her attending doctor, an independent psychiatrist, and had performed her duties professionally," he added.
This case is a stark reminder of the dangers of untreated depression. (The illness) can come up suddenly and destroy a person's life overnight.
- Community Court Judge Mathew Joseph