Fake dentists keep mouths zipped

PETALING JAYA: Syndicates running illicit dentistry teaching classes are able to keep their hands clean even as their “students” running the lucrative industry face the heat and get rounded up by authorities.This is because those arrested will not open their mouths about these syndicates.

Although the Health Ministry’s Medical Practice division has arrested 48 fake dentists since 2013, the syndicate members remain a mystery.

When caught, many just claim they had learnt the trade on YouTube, refusing to identify the masterminds.

This has not only hampered the ministry’s efforts to curb such practices but led to an increase in the number of such illegal practitioners.

Health Ministry’s Director of Medical Practice division Dr Mohd Azman Yacob, said that those who were arrested for providing illegal dentistry practices refused to share any information about their “coaches” despite being promised lighter punishment.

“There was a case where the accused’s parents cried and begged for a lighter punishment.

“They were begging in front of the automated teller machine (ATM) because they could not pay the fine.

“But when we asked the daughter who had taught her, she refused to give us the name,” he said.

“If they learnt from YouTube, where did they get the equipment and how can they know the function of each tool that we use to perform the procedures?

“Even if you check on YouTube, you would need to have some basic knowledge in order for you to understand how the procedures are being done.

“That is why I don’t believe that they learn it from YouTube, I am sure they have someone who coaches them.

“However, they refused to share that information probably because they have been warned by these coaches.

“There have also been cases where illegal practitioners acquire the skills from a family member who is a qualified dentist.

“These coaches are like syndicates that we need to eradicate to end the issue of illegal dentistry practitioners,” said Dr Azman.

His scepticism is well-founded. The Star has already discovered dozens of beauty centres nationwide providing short-term courses to those who wish to acquire dentistry skills and set up their own businesses.

The Health Ministry’s Oral Health principal director Dr Noormi Othman also revealed that some of the victims who received treatment from fake dentists were told to sign agreements that prevented them from revealing the identity of the operators.

“The agreement stated that the victims would not provide information about the operators.

“The operators are also not be responsible for the possible outcome of the treatment.

“This should trigger the red flag. The public should question why they can’t share the information, especially if the services are indeed good?

“Many who came to us refused to reveal the operators’ identity because they were scared that they will be taken to court. But this will not happen.

“The operators themselves are doing illicit businesses,” she said.

Yesterday, Hermono, the Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia, said Indonesian citizens who offer and provide dentistry short courses and illicit dentistry services should face the legal consequences.

“I have no information on this issue but if they did illegal activities, law enforcers should take action,” he said.

These “trainers” claim they had learnt dentistry back home.

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