In an Instagram post, thanking her supporters and also claiming that her business was ‘approved’ – and granted to her by the Health Ministry – 20-year-old vocational college graduate, Nur Farahanis Ezatty Adli remained unrepentant, as she was released from Sungai Udang prison in Melaka after serving only six days of her six-month jail term for failing to pay a court fine of RM70,000.
The caption of the ‘self-taught’ dentist’s social media post, expressing her gratitude towards Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Hilmi Yahaya, has since sparked heated debate among netizens. Responding to the alleged claims of the Health Ministry’s “support through her ordeal” – the office of Dr Hilmi Yahaya has since released an official press statement denying the claims of “giving support to any individuals who violates the law.
“This administration would like to refer to postings on social media which claim the deputy minister supported an individual who has been sentenced by the court for practising illegal dental services. In relation to that, the deputy minister or any other member of this administration does not support or compromise with any person or group who has broken the laws of country,” addressed Dr Hilmi’s personal assistant, Aziaan Ariffin, in the recent statement.
Nur Farahanis was slapped with a fine of RM70,000 by the Sessions Court in Melaka on 29 September, for running a private dental clinic which was unregistered under Section 27 of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998. In was reported that she had apparently learnt her dentistry skills – via YouTube videos – found practising fixing braces, which she claimed that she was only doing for her friends.
The offence under subsection 4(1) of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 is punishable under subparagraph 5(1)(a)(i) of the same act which carries a maximum fine of RM300,000 or maximum jail of six years or both, upon conviction.
Nur Farahanis was sentenced to six months of jail term for not paying the court fine. However, she was freed from jail after serving only six days. Two non-governmental organisations (NGOs), i.e. the Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM) and the Malaysia Islamic Economic Activist Organisation (PPEIM), were alleged to have run a public fundraising campaign to settle her fine.
President of the Malaysian Association of Orthodontists (MAO), Dr Noraini Alwi responded to the campaign by highlighting the public was mostly uninformed of the differences between specialist orthodontists, dentists and amateurs providing dental specialist services.
Malaysians should be well informed that they should “seek a legitimate dental practitioner for dental needs and a specialist orthodontist for orthodontic needs”, according to Dr Noraini. “If care is not taken in the diagnosis, treatment planning and case management of any orthodontic case, the patient may suffer dire consequences, such as damage to the teeth, gums and supporting bone, which may be irreversible,” she added, further iterating that MAO strongly advised the public not to be deceived by such illegal practices.
Meanwhile, an emergency medical specialist, Dr Abdul Rahman Abdul Kadir expressed his thoughts over PPIM’s actions in support of Nur Farahanis’ illegal dentistry practice. “These (dental) treatments can only be carried out by trained and specialised dental practitioners, and not someone who learnt it from YouTube. Consumers’ associations are supposed to defend consumers. She (Nur Farahanis) had clearly breached the law and had been sentenced by a court. What kind of message is PPIM trying to send?” wrote Dr Abdul Rahman on his Facebook post.
PPIM and PPEIM responded to the allegations during a press conference on 9 September.
PPIM denied being involved in a fundraising effort to help Nur Farahanis, nor in any support of the unregistered dental practice. “We have not received nor contributed a single sen to Nur Farahanis’ fundraising,” asserted PPIM activist Muhammad Zharif Johor. “Our stand is firm – we do not support nor recognise her dentistry as it is wrong and risky,” he added.
Editor's note: This is a developing story. We will bring you updates as more information becomes available.