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TCM practitioner on trial for molesting patient under guise of improving her 'qi'

SINGAPORE — After gaining a customer's trust with an effective cough treatment, a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner allegedly molested her and made her perform a sex act on herself.

Lim Ah Bah is accused of performing two sexual acts on a woman during a treatment session at a TCM clinic.

Lim Ah Bah is accused of performing two sexual acts on a woman during a treatment session at a TCM clinic.

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SINGAPORE — After gaining a customer's trust with an effective cough treatment, a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner allegedly molested her and made her perform a sex act on herself.

During the consultation, Lim Ah Bah also allegedly insulted the 39-year-old woman's modesty by asking her to have more sex with her boyfriend to "improve blood circulation", a court heard at the opening of a trial on Monday (Oct 26).

Lim, 74, is contesting four charges of outraging the victim's modesty and insulting her modesty two years ago. He is accused of performing two sexual acts on the woman during a treatment session at a TCM clinic in central Singapore. 

He also allegedly insulted the woman's modesty by asking her to apply lubricant gel on herself and suggesting that her boyfriend could perform a sex act on her for "better blood circulation".

The prosecution's case is that Lim abused his position as a TCM practitioner "to gratify his lust on the victim" by perpetuating the four acts under the guise of legitimate treatment to improve the victim's "qi", or internal energy circulation.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Claire Poh said that initially, the victim was "taken in" during the treatment on Oct 1, 2018, but she decided a day after that to confront Lim and ask if he had taken advantage of her.

The victim, who is now 42 and whose identity is protected by a court order, took the stand as the first witness for the prosecution on Monday and described what happened.

She explained that she had gone to see Lim at the TCM clinic for a cough on Sept 24, 2018, where he performed "tuina" or massage on her upper body.


Even though the woman noted that Lim asked her if she was married at the start of the session, she was surprised that her cough cleared up within three days. Usually, it takes weeks and up to three months for her cough to clear.

She said that she is familiar with TCM treatment and normally trusts only such treatments, and recalled Lim telling her that her blood pressure was very low because of a "blockage" in her body.

He then asked her to return for a follow-up session and she did so on Oct 1, 2018 to clear this "blockage".

This time, Lim asked her if she had a boyfriend, the woman said. When she answered that she did, Lim allegedly told her to ask her boyfriend for more sexual intercourse and to perform a sex act on her so that her blockage could be "cured".

The woman said that she had not said anything before this to prompt this question from Lim.

"I told him — doctor, can you just don't talk nonsense because I'm here to seek treatment and not to hear this kind of bull****," she said. "Actually I feel very offended. This is (a) very private thing, you know."

She said that Lim then took her blood pressure and performed the tuina massage on her upper body while she was wearing a tank top and loose pants.

After the woman removed her bra as was her usual practice for tuina, Lim entered the room with a container of gel and wanted to massage her. He was acting as if he was about to touch her vaginal area, the woman said.

"I told him no, I can do it myself," she said. She said that Lim gave her a glove to perform the massage on her vaginal area and he used two fingers to press onto her vaginal area to show her where to do it.

The woman said that Lim had not given her any notice that he was about to touch her, but she complied because of how effective her cough treatment was.


"I just feel that this treatment is very weird and peculiar, because I had never done this in the past," she told the court. However, she said that she wanted to trust him because of her cough treatment.

"Maybe he has something that I (have) never done before, (it) can really help me... because of my blockage, (I) am very scared of (the) cold, I'm not sure if this had something to do with the blockage," she explained.

Lim then performed tuina on her. She lifted her left arm so he could do so and used her right hand to perform the massage herself. He also performed acupuncture and cupping on her.

Lim then lifted her tank top so that her upper body was exposed, applied a substance and performed a sexual act on her. 

The woman said that she felt very uncomfortable and asked Lim why he was doing it himself when he had already asked her boyfriend to do it. 

"I don't feel comfortable, can you stop it now," she told Lim, and he stopped.

She left the room after taking the bottle of gel, which Lim had asked her to use to continue her vaginal massage, and collected medicine from the counter.


Thewoman said that she felt "very embarrassed and shameful and also confused", but was still having doubts, so she decided to go home and research the topic online.

She said that she suspected he had molested her, but was unsure. However, after doing her research, she could find no such medical practice and saw that a TCM doctor in Hong Kong was being sued in court for touching a patient.

"I (felt) very angry because I feel, you know, the doctor is using my ignorance to take advantage of me," she said.

She called him the next day and confronted him. The phone call, where they spoke in Mandarin, was played in court.

In an angry tone, the victim repeatedly asked Lim to provide the basis for the treatment where he had to perform a sex act on her. She also asked if he had done this to other female patients.

In his replies, Lim said that it was a medical method and asked her to take classes on them or go and see other TCM doctors.

"Why didn't you tell me and just do it (without asking me)? I only complied to tuina, not for you to (do the sex act). You asked my boyfriend to (do it), I didn't agree to let you (do it). You never ask me can or not, you just did straightaway.

"I feel you are molesting me. I plan to call the police," she said.

The prosecution said that it will be tendering Lim's statements to show that he had initially confessed to committing various acts, but the defence asserted that these were inaccurately taken.

Lim is defended by lawyer Tan Hee Joek. The trial continues. 

If convicted of molesting the woman, Lim can be jailed up to two years and fined for each charge. He cannot be caned as he is older than 50.

If found guilty of insulting a woman's modesty, he can be jailed up to a year or fined, or both, for each charge. CNA

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