It was recently revealed that a young woman with no legitimate qualifications has been referring to YouTube videos to practise dentistry without a license
Nur Farahanis Ezatty, who hails from Alor Setar, Kedah, picked up her "dentistry skills" by watching video tutorials online.
The 20-year-old vocational graduate went a step further and opened her own unauthorised private dental clinic and was offering her services at Bakti Homestay in Bukit Katil, Melaka, in January.
Not long after, she was caught for offering illicit services and not registering her clinic under Section 27 of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998
She was charged under Section 4(1) of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998, which provides a fine of not more than RM300,000, or maximum jail of six years or, or both, if found guilty.
Her lawyer Janariah Mustafa, appealed to the court for a lighter sentence saying that Nur Farahanis was remorseful and that she would not repeat the offence. It was reported that Nur Farahanis had changed her plea to guilty at the last minute.
Judge Norma Ismail found Nur Farahanis guilty and she was slapped with a RM70,000 fine on 29 September. Nur Farahanis was sentenced to six months in jail since she could not afford to pay the fine.
However, Nur Farahanis walked free after spending six days in prison. NGOs and members of the public have raised funds to pay her fine.
She was released from the Sungai Udang prison on Thursday, 5 October, after her RM70,000 fine was paid for.
New Straits Times (NST) reported that two NGOs namely, Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM) and Malaysia Islamic Economic Activist Organisation (PPEM), decided to help settle the court fine by organising a public campaign to raise funds after reading about her case, which was widely reported by the media.
"We feel that we need to help her and we also believe that there are some good reasons for us to help her. I do not want to say that the charge was unfair. We feel that we should try to help someone who is trying to free herself from poverty and challenges of life," PPIM head Datuk Nadzim Johan said, as reported by NST.
It was also learned that Nur Farahanis did not intend to plead guilty
According to Nadzim, Nur Farahanis decided to change her mind because she thought the fine would be less.
"We feel that she is still young, has not committed any previous crime, and should be given another chance," he was quoted as saying by NST.
Nadzim added that his NGO is committed to continue to support Nur Farahanis, including to assist her in registering her business and furthering her studies.
"Our organisation has always been looking forward to helping hard-working and sincere Malaysians. They are assets to the country and should not be left alone," he added.
Responding to the matter, the Malaysian Association of Orthodontists (MAO) said that the NGOs are sending the wrong message to the public by organising the campaign to raise funds for a bogus dentist
MAO president Dr Noraini Alwi stressed that Nadzim's recent statement that Nur Farahanis "was merely helping to fix simple braces on her friends, based on her own experience learnt from YouTube" implied that it was acceptable for dental services to by carried out by anyone, even if they only learned from videos online.
Noraini stressed that this was not the case, and that fake braces will remain fake braces.
"Those who put them on are irresponsible people who, under the pretext of 'helping friends or other Malaysians get access to such treatment' are nothing more than people seeking commercial gain."
"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 said in a statement, as reported by Malay Mail Online.
The MAO also reminded the public not to be "duped by such illegal practices" and seek legitimate dental practitioners and specialist orthodontists should the need arises.
Meanwhile, a video has also surfaced on social media that depicts Nur Farahanis, fondly known as Nara, expressing her gratitude that her case is now over
The video, believed to be taken after she was released from prison, features Nara who can be seen expressing her thanks to supporters who stood by her.
She also thanked people who "tried to put her down", saying that she is "more well-known, wealthy, and successful" now, thanks to them.
It is believed that Nara had uploaded the video on her Instagram account, before deleting it
According to media reports, Nara wrote in the now-deleted Instagram post that she was grateful her case has been settled.
She thanked many people including Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya, which led to questions on his involvement in the case.
However, in a press statement issued by Dr Hilmi's private secretary Aziaan Ariffin, the administration has refuted claims that it had supported an individual who was found guilty of practising dentistry without a licence.
"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," the statement read.
Do you agree that the campaign to raise funds for Nur Farahanis sends the wrong message to the public? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.