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Pillars of Strength

Dr Gopal Haridas  

(1899 – 1964)

Head, Paediatric Unit, 1933 – 1954

Dr Gopal Haridas was a pioneer in paediatrics in Singapore, and the first local graduate to obtain membership in the Royal College of Physicians in 1935.

Dr Haridas laid the foundation stone for the practice and growth of paediatrics. He was responsible for many improvements in the treatment of children’s diseases. His greatest triumph was the eradication of cardiac beriberi among breast-fed infants.

Dr Haridas found their mothers’ breast milk to be deficient in vitamin B1. His research led him to use unpolished rice with a generous intake of vitamin B1 during and after gestation.

This prompted Dr E S Monteiro, then a junior doctor, to recommend the intravenous injection of vitamin B1 for adult patients with cardiac beriberi, resulting in a 100 percent recovery rate.

Dr Haridas was conferred the Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Sir John Nicoll, Governor of Singapore on 24 July 1954.

Professor Sir Gordon Arthur Ransome  

(1910 – 1978)

Professor of Medicine, 1948 – 1971
Founding Master, Academy of Medicine Singapore, 1957 – 1959

Professor Gordon Arthur Ransome arrived in Singapore in 1935 as assistant to Dr Brunel Hawes.

He was appointed Assistant Professor of Medicine in 1938 after Dr Hawes left. Ten years later in 1948, he succeeded to the Chair.

Professor Ransome was a brilliant clinician and great physician. However, he was best remembered as an inspiring teacher and for his bedside teaching of medicine.

Professor Ransome firmly believed that the practice of medicine was an art, not a trade, and a calling, not a business.

A man of great intellect and honesty, he was known for his enthusiasm and ability to inspire the art of medicine. 

He was very kind and gracious. He treated every patient regardless of station with the same thoroughness and humility in all ways.

He was always prepared to learn from others, including the lowly houseman, giving credit magnanimously when credit is due, and ready to admit his own mistakes.

Professor Ernest Steven Monteiro 

(1904 – 1989)

Head, Department of Clinical Medicine, 1949 – 1964

Professor Ernest Steven Monteiro made significant contributions in public health. In 1937, while investigating cardiac (wet) beriberi among impoverished Chinese dockworkers, he found that they subsisted mainly on highly polished white rice, a diet that was invariably fatal. 

He injected extracts of vitamin B1 into his first patient who made a quick and dramatic recovery. He treated a further 19 cases successfully. 

During the war, he found that the stock of anti-diphtheria serum (antitoxin) was depleted.  With ingenuity, he injected filtered toxin from bacterial cultures into the jugular veins of some goats, bled them three weeks later to obtain the serum, and then froze and used it successfully to combat the epidemic that was then spreading throughout Singapore.

Professor Monteiro’s next major medical achievement was his decision in 1958 to use the untested oral Sabin vaccine on a massive scale to combat the ravages of the acute anterior poliomyelitis outbreak in Singapore. A quarter million children were immunised and the epidemic was brought to an end.  

Professor David Eric Cameron Mekie  

(1902 – 1989)

Professor of Clinical Surgery, 1935 – 1955

Dr David Eric Cameron Mekie, Professor of Clinical Surgery at the University of Singapore between 1935 and 1955, was interned in Changi Prison during the Japanese Occupation.
When Singapore was re-occupied by the British in 1945, he resumed his duties within five months of his release.   

His untiring efforts in collecting equipment and restoring surgical services were much appreciated by the medical community.

Until his retirement, Professor Mekie played an eminent role in surgical services. He recognised the need for postgraduate training opportunities for local surgical trainees, and initiated a scheme for overseas training of local surgeons who were able to fill the vacancies left by departing British surgeons when Singapore gained independence.

Always approachable, he taught the importance of self-discipline, professional responsibility, the need to share skills and knowledge, continuing scholarship and  communication. Professor Mekie, who said, “Surgery is not the work of an individual but of a team,” trained many surgeons in his time.

Professor Yeoh Ghim Seng 

(1918 – 1993)

First local Chair of Professor of Surgery, 1956 – 1962

Professor Yeoh Ghim Seng became Professor of Surgery at the then University of Malaya in 1955, the first local to hold that position during the British colonial period.

Under his leadership, Professor Yeoh shaped surgery in Singapore and paved the way for many talented Singaporean surgeons to follow.

He brought with him the latest techniques from Cambridge University to impart to his colleagues and to benefit patients. 

One of Professor Yeoh’s important contributions was bringing the first half of the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) examination to Singapore and this sped up the development of surgery in Singapore. 

Professor Yeoh performed the first closed-heart surgery in 1959. The following year, he performed an open-heart surgery using hypothermia or extreme cold to stop the heart long enough to carry out the surgery.

Dr Benjamin Henry Sheares 

(1907 – 1981)

First local Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Singapore’s Second President, 1971 – 1981

Dr Benjamin Henry Sheares distinguished himself in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G), obtaining several firsts for Singapore in this field. 

He was the first Singaporean to specialise in O&G; the first local to be appointed Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at then-University of Malaya in Singapore, a post usually reserved for colonials; and he was the first medical practitioner in Singapore to use the lower segment method of performing Caesarean sections.

He also developed a surgical procedure, which was named ‘Sheares Operation’, for the treatment of vaginal agenesis, and became internationally recognised after he published a paper on it in 1960. 

Despite criticism from his peers, he was a strong proponent of voluntary sterilisation and family planning.

Dr Sheares became Singapore’s second President in 1971. Despite his position, he maintained a humble life and refused a higher salary for his role. He took six months to agree to a third term as President in 1978.

Dr Khoo Fun Yong 

(1907 – 2004)

First local Head, Department of Diagnostic Radiology, 1956 – 1967

Dr Khoo Fun Yong became the first local head of Singapore General Hospital’s (SGH) Diagnostic Radiology department.

Under Dr Khoo’s leadership, there was a period of marked development in radiological services, both diagnostic and therapeutic, not only in SGH but also in other government hospitals. 

Training of diagnostic and therapeutic radiologists (re-designated as radiation oncologists) continued in earnest to meet rising demand.

In the mid-1950s, Dr Khoo envisaged the need for a local school of radiography to train radiographers. A proposal was drawn up and approved, and the school was officially opened in October 1963.

Dr Khoo was instrumental in founding the Association of Singapore Radiographers in 1957, and was among the founding members of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore. 

He was also one of the original members who constituted the Chapter of Radiologists in the Academy.

Dr Yahya Cohen 

(1920 – 2003)

Head, Surgery Unit B, 1959 – 1972
Master, Academy of Medicine Singapore, 1968 – 1970

Dr Yahya Cohen started his career as surgical tutor under Professor David E C Mekie. He truly loved teaching and training surgeons. He was a teacher and mentor to many medical students, not just in Singapore but in the region.

Dr Cohen developed a lifelong passion for surgery to such an extent that he would even pay to be allowed to perform surgery.

To him, surgery was not only about operating. It was being able to look at a patient and make a correct diagnosis. As a surgeon, Dr Cohen was gentle and meticulous in technique, and a pursuer of details.

He was the President of the Singapore Medical Association from 1961 to 1962. He became the Master of the Academy of Medicine from 1968 to 1970. Two years later, he became the President of the Singapore Medical Council and Chairman of the Committee of Surgery at the School of Postgraduate Medical Studies.

Professor Wong Hock Boon 

(1923 – 2008)

Head, University Department of Paediatrics, 1962 – 1988

Professor Wong Hock Boon, widely regarded as the Father of Paediatrics in Singapore, was a mentor to thousands of young physicians.
Professor Wong founded the University Department of Paediatrics, becoming the country's first Professor of Paediatrics in 1962 and holding the post until 1988.

His research on kernicterus (damage in the brain of infants with jaundice), which is caused by glucose-6 phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, led to a significant decrease in kernicterus incidences in Singapore and the region. Professor Wong was credited with initiating a national screening programme for G6PD deficiency for all newborns.     

Professor Wong's research in genetic blood diseases also resulted in the discovery of three new haemoglobins. 

He introduced the teaching of human genetics to students and doctors.  His early research findings that herbal medicine could cause jaundice have resulted in a drastic reduction of severe jaundice in newborns in Singapore. 

Professor Wong received the Public Administration Gold Medal in 1970 and the prestigious Outstanding Paediatrician in Asia award in 1985.

Dr Gwee Ah Leng   

(1920 – 2006)

Medical Superintendent, 1960 – 1961
Head, Medical Unit III, 1965 – 1971
Master, Academy of Medicine Singapore, 1961 – 1964

Dr Gwee Ah Leng was educated at Raffles Institution and moved on to the Medical College, graduating in 1949.

He started his career as a house doctor in Outram Road General Hospital and spent the next 21 years as senior physician and head of Medical Unit III.

During his career, he actively spoke out against issues such as legalised abortion and called for doctors to take a stand    on issues like euthanasia and professional secrecy.

A compassionate and well-respected physician with a special interest in neurology, he became a vocal supporter of research in brain disease. 

He campaigned to persuade more people to support a research fund and donate their brains to medical science to help the fight against brain disease.

Dr Gwee had a strong interest in medical education, and served on several committees dedicated to raising the standard of university education. For his contribution to education and the medical profession, he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in 1963.

Professor Khoo Oon Teik 

(1921 – 2012)

Director, Renal Unit, 1961 – 1973
Head, Medical Unit II, 1965 – 1971
Head, University Department of Medicine II, 1971 – 1979
Master, Academy of Medicine Singapore, 1964 – 1966

Professor Khoo Oon Teik was the first director of Singapore General Hospital’s (SGH) Renal Unit, which he started in 1961.  He was responsible for initiating the chronic haemodialysis and transplantation programme as well as the coronary care unit in 1968.

He graduated from the King Edward VII College of Medicine in 1946. In 1948, together with Professor E S Monteiro they formed the Medical Unit II. Professor Khoo was appointed Professor of Medicine and head of the Medical Unit II in 1965 and head of the University Department of Medicine II in 1971.

His service to the hospital was extensive through the years. Professor Khoo started the Skin and Leprosy Clinic in 1948 and this marked the beginning of dermatology in Singapore. 

He helped set up Alcoholic Anonymous, and the first Drug Dependence Clinic in SGH in 1971.

Professor Seah Cheng Siang 

(1922 – 1990)

Head, Medical Unit III, 1971 – 1987
Master, Academy of Medicine Singapore, 1970 – 1973

Professor Seah Cheng Siang was admitted to the King College of Medicine in 1941. He graduated with top honours in medicine in 1951. He was awarded the Brunel Hawes Gold Medal and the Lim Boon Keng Medal for Medicine in the final professional examinations.

After his graduation, he first worked as a House Physician at Medical Unit I under Professor Gordon Ransome, his teacher and mentor, and Dr T J Danaraj.

Professor Seah inherited much of Professor Ransome’s teachings and values, regarding care of patients as of first importance, and to treat every patient regardless of station with the same thoroughness and humility in all ways.

Teaching was second nature to Professor Seah. He taught not only clinical signs and symptoms, but also bedside manners, neatness and orderliness, with his trademark of a meticulous medical history and taking thorough head-to-toe examination.

In 2018, the Seah Cheng Siang Professorship in Medicine was established in his honour.

Professor Tan Seng Huat

(1930 – 2020)

Head, Department of Anaesthesia, 1971 – 1988

Professor Tan Seng Huat, a pioneer anaesthetist who perpetuated British anaesthesia techniques in Singapore, was a giant in the field. Professor Tan graduated in 1957, joined the Department of Anaesthesia in Outram Road General Hospital in 1960, and became its head from 1971 to 1988. 

He was the first local chief anaesthetist to take over from the British. He was then in charge of the anaesthesia service in all Singapore government hospitals.

After the decentralisation of anaesthesia services in 1975, he continued as the head of the department in SGH. He started the pain clinic and was the first anaesthetist to practise acupuncture in SGH.

Professor Tan was made the first Clinical Professor of Anaesthesia by the National University of Singapore in recognition of his contribution to both undergraduate and postgraduate education.

He was the founding member of the Chapter of Anaesthetists, Academy of Medicine Singapore, which was responsible for the specialist accreditation of anaesthesia from 1976.

Dr Kwa Soon Bee

(1930 – 2016)

Head, Singapore Blood Transfusion Service, 1963
Medical Director, SGH, 1972 – 1983
Permanent Secretary and Director of Medical Services, Ministry of Health, 1984 – 1996
Chairman, SGH Board of Directors, 1989 – 1996
Emeritus Consultant, Department of Haematology, SGH, 1997

Dr Kwa Soon Bee had a long and distinguished career in medical services, during which he laid the foundation for Singapore’s healthcare system.

He was instrumental in modernising Singapore’s healthcare system, devoting more than four decades of his life to shaping and nurturing the medical sector.

Singapore General Hospital (SGH) was central to his efforts. It was rebuilt and upgraded, propelling it into the modern era. When public hospitals were corporatised, SGH became the model for the other institutions.

Dr Kwa, with his close association with SGH since the early 1950s, became its first chairman in 1989.

Dr Kwa studied medicine at the University of Malaya, and later went on a government scholarship to specialise in haematology in the UK. He returned as the first Singapore doctor to be fully trained in clinical and laboratory haematology, and was appointed head of the Singapore Blood Transfusion Service in 1963.

Professor Navaratnam Balachandran  

(1928 – 2000)

Head, Department Orthopaedic Surgery ‘O’, 1980 – 1988
Emeritus Consultant, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, 1993

Professor Navaratnam Balachandran became the head of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery ‘O’, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), in 1980, a post he held until his retirement in June 1988 when he was appointed as Senior Consultant and Advisor, Ministry of Health.

As a senior member of the department in the early 1970s, he was instrumental in setting standards and improving the practice of orthopaedic surgery in SGH. He spearheaded     several committees in improving services for the handicapped and disabled, spinal injuries, chronic sick and congenital deformities. 

His commitment and interest in the management of spinal injuries and paralysis led to improvements in rehabilitation services.

Most of the senior orthopaedic surgeons, especially those in the government, restructured hospitals and the private sector, were trained under him.

Dr Lim Cheng Hong   

(1930 – 2010)

Head, Department of Renal Medicine, 1973 – 1988
Chairman, Division of Medicine, 1989 – 1996
Emeritus Consultant, Department of Renal Medicine, 1993

Dr Lim Cheng Hong, a pioneer in nephrology, had an illustrious career spanning more than three decades at Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

During this period, he distinguished himself not only in his chosen field of nephrology but also through his contributions to teaching, research and administration.

When SGH’s Department of Renal Medicine was established in 1973, Dr Lim became its first head.

Under his leadership, the department became Singapore’s main centre for a broad range of nephrological services for patients with renal conditions in Singapore.

He boosted research through the establishment of renal research laboratories, which continue to produce papers for local and overseas journals.

Dr Jimmy Sng Ewe Hui 

Head, Department of Pathology, 1986 – 1998
Emeritus Consultant, Department of Pathology, 1997

Dr Jimmy Sng Ewe Hui had an illustrious career that spanned over three decades as a microbiologist and immunologist at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) as well as the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Not only did he distinguish himself in his chosen field of microbiology, he also made contributions to teaching, research and administration.

He started his career at SGH in 1964, becoming Medical Director of then-government Department of Pathology in 1986 and head of the SGH department when the hospital was restructured in 1989.

A firm and able leader, Dr Sng was key in shaping and developing the laboratory testing service in Singapore. Indeed, the department became Singapore’s national referral laboratory through his unceasing and tireless efforts.

Under his leadership, the department participated in MOH’s disease control programmes against sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis B, AIDS and hospital infection.

Among Dr Sng’s foremost contributions to laboratory medicine was the development of a sensitivity testing technique for penicillin-resistant gonococci.

Professor Charles Ng Sen Ark 

Head, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 1986 – 1988
Chairman, Division of Surgery, 1989 – 1992
Chairman, Medical Board, 1992 – 1998
Emeritus Consultant, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 1997

Professor Charles Ng started Singapore General Hospital's (SGH) Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O&G) in 1986. During his term as head, the department was expanded to include three major subspecialties and the Centre for Assisted Reproduction.

He went on to become Chairman, Division of Surgery, in 1989, and Chairman, Medical Board, from 1992 to 1998. Medical specialisation flourished, subspecialties were created, and medical centres such as Ambulatory Surgery, O&G and Urology were established including the National Heart Centre in 1995.

A champion of research and medical education, Professor Ng launched the prestigious SGH Annual Scientific Meeting in 1990, while specialist training received a boost with the     founding of SGH Postgraduate Medical Institute in 1994.

Among his many other appointments, Professor Ng was President, O&G Society of Singapore, and Chairman of the Singapore Representative Committee of the Royal College of O&G. 

Professor Chao Tzee Cheng 

(1934 – 2000)

Medical Director, Forensic Medicine, 1989 – 1991
Director, Institute of Science and Forensic Medicine, 1991 – 1997
Master, Academy of Medicine Singapore, 1992 – 1995
Emeritus Consultant, Forensic Pathology (Posthumous Award), SGH, 2000

Professor Chao Tzee Cheng was Singapore’s foremost forensic pathologist from the 1970s to the 1990s, successfully investigating some of the most challenging and complex forensic cases in Singapore and the region. 

He had a distinguished career in the Department of Pathology, and when SGH was corporatised in 1989, he was made Medical Director of the new Department of Forensic Medicine, and subsequently the Director of the Institute of Science and Forensic Medicine under the Health Sciences Authority. 

Professor Chao served on countless national and international committees, including as President of the Medico-Legal Society, Governor of the World Association for Medicine Law and Master of the Academy of Medicine Singapore. 

For his many contributions, Professor Chao was awarded the Public Administration Silver Medal in 1975 and the Gold Medal in 1979 as well as the Meritorious Service Medal in 1995. 
To remember Professor Chao, who passed on in 2000, the National University of Singapore established the Chao Tzee Cheng Professorship in Pathology and Forensic Science. 

Professor Ong Yong Yau 

Head, Medical Unit III, 1987 – 1995
Head, Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 1995 – 1998
Chairman, Division of Medicine, 1996 – 2000
Chairman, Medical Board, 2000 – 2001
Chief Executive Officer, 2002 – 2003
Emeritus Consultant, Department of Internal Medicine, 2003

Professor Ong Yong Yau’s impeccable record of achievements and contributions to Singapore General Hospital (SGH) dates back to 1979 when he joined the hospital as a consultant. 

He was appointed Head, Department of Medicine III, in 1987, which was later re-organised into the Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 

As a testament to his leadership, Professor Ong was appointed Chairman, Division of Medicine, in 1996 and Chairman, Medical Board, in 2000. He took on the chief stewardship as Chief Executive Officer of SGH in 2002. 

Professor Ong is an exemplary role model — an outstanding clinician who devotes his time to patient care, teaching and research, and a committed leader. In 2016, he received the Master Physician of Internal Medicine Award. 

He has also presented considerable research at many medical scientific conferences held locally and internationally.  Professor Ong continues to contribute as the Chairman of SGH Office of Bioethics and Co-Chair of the National Medical Research Council Public Engagement Advisory Committee.

Professor Woo Keng Thye  

Head, Department of Renal Medicine, 1989 – 2002
Chairman, Division of Medicine, 2000 – 2003
Emeritus Consultant, Department of Renal Medicine, 2003

Professor Woo Keng Thye has had an illustrious career, spanning more than four decades, and is one of Singapore     General Hospital’s (SGH) top physicians, teachers, researchers and administrators. He was Head, Department of Renal Medicine, and Chairman, Division of Medicine.

Professor Woo served on numerous committees and held many positions, including the Chairman of the National Medical Research Council, and the editorial boards of reputable medical journals. 

He is a prolific writer, with numerous scientific papers and books to his name. He also won many Best Researcher Awards and Excellence Publication Awards.

He was conferred Clinical Professor of Medicine by the National University of Singapore in 2000 and was named SGH Best Teacher in 2001.

In recognition of his numerous contributions, he was awarded the Public Administration Silver Medal in 2002.

As Chairman, Division of Medicine, he provided fair, firm and able leadership.  He exercised sound judgement, and gave wise and kind counsel to his juniors.

Professor Foo Keong Tatt  

Head, Department of Urology, 1988 – 2001
Emeritus Consultant, Department of Urology, 2004

Professor Foo Keong Tatt has worked tirelessly to establish urology as a clinical specialty in Singapore. For his pioneering work and leadership in this field, he became known as Singapore’s Father of Urology.

His many contributions included training generations of urologists, including fellows from around the region; publishing a great number of research papers in renowned journals; and membership on committees such as for specialist training and accreditation.

Professor Foo founded the Singapore Urological Association in 1986. In 1988, he established and headed the country’s first Department of Urology. He is known internationally, having served as Vice-Chairman, 5th International Consultation on Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia in 2000; and as a member of the Steering Committee for the International Consultation on   Urological Diseases from 2000 to 2006.

Professor Foo was given the Lifetime Achieving Award by the World Chinese Urological Society in 2008 and a similar award by the International Urological Society in 2009.  He was also awarded the Public Administration Silver Medal in 2001.

In 2021, the Foo Keong Tatt Professorship in Urology was established in his honour.

Dr Tan Kim Ping  

Head, Department of Diagnostic Radiology, 1991 – 2002
Emeritus Consultant, Department of Diagnostic Radiology, 2004

Dr Tan Kim Ping became Head, Department of Diagnostic Radiology, at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) in 1991. 

It was with some personal reluctance then that Dr Tan uprooted himself from a very well established and comfortable practice at Tan Tock Seng Hospital to heed the call of higher duty in SGH.

Dr Tan was instrumental in restructuring the department and changing the practice of radiology to meet the challenges that he saw coming, i.e. that imaging would emerge to become a critical component in the timely diagnosis and management of diseases.
Under his tenure, the department witnessed unprecedented growth, providing a comprehensive subspecialty service 24 hours, seven days a week.

He also served in various capacities at SGH, including as a member of the Medical Board.

Professionally, Dr Tan served on numerous committees and held various offices, notably as: President, Singapore Radiological Society; Chairman, Chapter of Radiologists, Academy of Medicine Singapore; Honorary Secretary, and then President Singapore Government Medical, Dental and Pharmaceutical Officers Association.

Professor Lee Seng Teik  

Head, Department of Plastic Surgery and Burns, 1985 – 1999
Emeritus Consultant, Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, 2006

Professor Lee Seng Teik pioneered several cleft lip and palate procedures, notably the Manchester-Lee Repair for the reconstruction of bilateral cleft lip deformity.

As Head, Department of Plastic Surgery and Burns, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), 1985 – 1999, he laid the groundwork for subspecialisation by sending trainees to the best schools and hospitals overseas. He appointed specialists in every subspecialty, including head and neck surgery, and aesthetic surgery and burns.

In 2001, he led a team to reconstruct the heads of Nepalese craniopagus twins, Ganga and Jamuna, after their separation   by neurosurgeons.

Professor Lee is an ardent volunteer, heading teams in providing free medical attention, notably cleft lip and palate correction, to the poor in neighbouring countries. 

He was founding director, SGH Postgraduate Medical Institute, and Honorary Member, British Association of Plastic Surgeons. In 2014, Professor Lee and family friend, Mr Lee Hoo Leng, established the Lee Seng Teik & Lee Hoo Leng Professorship in Plastic Surgery and Regenerative Medicine, and was the founding director of the SGH Museum, assembling an impressive résumé of this prestigious institute’s history.

Associate Professor Gilbert Chiang Shih Chuin  

(1942 – 2018)

Head, Department of Pathology, 1998 – 2005
Emeritus Consultant, Department of Pathology, 2006

Associate Professor Gilbert Chiang served Singapore General Hospital (SGH) with great distinction. He was Head, Department of Pathology, 1998 – 2005, and served four terms as a member of the Medical Board, 1994 – 2005. 

He committed many years of his career towards building pathology services in SGH and Singapore. He taught generations of younger pathologists over the years, and has participated extensively in research, particularly in renal and breast pathology.

An internationally known and respected pathologist, Professor Chiang served on many committees and was responsible for organising several international scientific conferences that put SGH Pathology on the world map. 

Professor Chiang has been a source of great encouragement to his staff, an exemplary role model to his students and a respected colleague to his peers.

Professor Tan Ser Kiat  

Head, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery ‘O’, 1988 – 1995
Chairman, Division of Surgery, 1992 – 1998
Chairman, Medical Board, 1998 – 2000
Chief Executive Officer, 2003 – 2008
Emeritus Consultant, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, 2008
Group Chief Executive Officer, SingHealth, 2000 – 2012
Master, Academy of Medicine Singapore, 1995 – 1998

From his early days as an orthopaedic surgeon to his tenure as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and Group CEO of SingHealth, Professor Tan Ser Kiat has contributed tremendously to the development of SGH, as well as to SingHealth.

As the first Group CEO of SingHealth when it was set up in 2000, he built on the heritage and strengths of the institutions on SGH Campus to take on the mammoth task of integrating and building the group to become the formidable medical powerhouse it is today.

Even as he grew in stature as an administrator, he never relinquished his clinician roots. He is a popular teacher with younger colleagues and encourages the pursuit of cutting-edge research to deliver better treatments.

Professor Tan is a champion of patient and staff welfare. In 2011, he won the prestigious Hudson Award for Champion of Human Resources.

Professor Tay Boon Keng    

Head, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, 1995 – 2002
Chairman, Division of Surgery, 1999 – 2002
Chairman, Medical Board, 2002 – 2006
Emeritus Consultant, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, 2008

Professor Tay Boon Keng is an exemplary clinician, outstanding teacher, astute leader and administrator. 

He became Head, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), in 1995. Under his leadership, the department grew to become one of the best   in the region, achieving many breakthroughs in techniques of surgery, as well as in orthopaedic surgery research.  

In recognition of his leadership, Professor Tay was appointed Chairman, Division of Surgery, in 1999, and Chairman, Medical Board, in 2002.

During this time, he made significant changes such as introducing hospital-wide quality improvements in medical practice to enable SGH to meet the changing demands of healthcare.

Professor Tay has served in different capacities in Ang Mo Kio Community Hospital, Dover Park Hospice, overseas hospitals and medical colleges.

Professor Ho Lai Yun  

Head, Department of Neonatology, 1986 – 2004
Emeritus Consultant, Department of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine, 2013
Master, Academy of Medicine Singapore, 2006 – 2008

Professor Ho Lai Yun set up Singapore General Hospital’s Department of Neonatology in 1986 and served as its head for 17 years.

However, he is far better known for pioneering many nationwide perinatal health and child development programmes. He is a strong advocate of child welfare and protection, as well as early education and intervention.

Professor Ho has been actively involved in community projects that addressed social and educational issues, such as child abuse and neglect, bullying in schools, children brought up by foreign domestic workers, pre-school education and children with special needs. 

Professor Ho’s reputation as a highly principled, caring and meticulous clinician makes him a strong role model for many young doctors.

Among his many achievements, Professor Ho was conferred the Outstanding Pediatrician in Asia Award in 2003 by the Asia Pacific Pediatric Association for his contributions to education and improvement in child health and development in the region, National Outstanding Clinician Mentor and Public Service Star awards, both in 2010.

Professor Venkataraman Anantharaman 

Head, Accident and Emergency Department, 1994 – 1997
Head, Department of Emergency Medicine, 1997 – 2003
Chairman, Division of Ambulatory and Clinical Support Services, 2003 – 2006
Emeritus Consultant, Department of Emergency Medicine, 2021

Regarded as the “Father of Emergency Medicine” in Singapore, Professor Venkataraman Anantharaman is principally responsible for the early initiatives in developing emergency care in the country.

He introduced organised clinical reasoning, and systematic and yet judicious use of investigative services, including blood and imaging services into the Emergency Department.

He initiated the principles of more definitive diagnoses for patients seeking emergency care and starting treatments quickly — standards which have become the norm for all public emergency departments in Singapore.

Professor Anantharaman has spent all his working life in public service, serving in many national roles, notably as the Ministry of Health's Field Medical Commander during national emergencies. Above all, he is a passionate humanitarian who leads volunteers on many medical missions to regional countries.

Thanks to Professor Anantharaman’s many efforts, Singapore is recognised by the international emergency medicine community as one of the few countries in the world with a first-world emergency medical care system. 

Ms Lim Kwee Neo   

(1921 – 2013)

Matron, 1958 – 1961
Principal Matron, Ministry of Health, 1961 – 1971

Ms Lim Kwee Neo was one of the first locals to be trained in the nursing profession.

She was inspired to join the profession after seeing how nurses cared for her sick mother. Ms Lim and her peers opened the door to more local women to enter nursing, and gradually, local nurses assumed supervisory and management positions.

That passion stayed with her through the years, leading her to be named Singapore General Hospital’s Matron, 1958 – 1961, and Ministry of Health’s Principal Matron, 1961 – 1971.

She was the first Asian to be promoted to Deputy Principal Matron, Singapore, in 1960 and the first Singaporean to be appointed Principal Matron.

Ms Ti Sui Tsu   

(1920 – 1988)

Matron, 1961 – 1970

Ms Ti Sui Tsu was a pioneer nurse who trained in the discipline between 1939 and 1943. In the same batch as Ms Lim Kwee Neo, Ms Ti took over from the former as Singapore General Hospital Matron between 1961 and 1970. 

In honour of the 100th anniversary of her birth, the Ms Ti Sui Tsu Memorial Fund made an endowed gift to the Singapore Institute of Technology to establish the Ti Sui Tsu Bursary,    in support of nursing and allied health students at the university., Singapore, in 1960 and the first Singaporean to be appointed Principal Matron.

Mr Bernard Soo Fook Oon 

(1932 – 2014)

Principal Nursing Officer, 1981 – 1984

Mr Bernard Soo was instrumental in designing the first Singapore Nursing Board badge in 1952 when he was a student.

He obtained an overseas scholarship to study nursing administration in the United States in 1967.

He was subsequently posted to Singapore General Hospital (SGH) as the Principal Nursing Officer (akin to today’s Chief Nurse) where he witnessed the opening of the modern SGH in 1981.

Ms Lee Yoke Lan

Nursing Officer, 1971 – 1979
Higher Nursing Officer, 1979 – 1981

Ms Lee Yoke Lan was known largely for championing the concerns and well-being of nurses.

She worked in several hospitals and always pushed for greater training for nurses, resulting in nurses being competent in various disciplines. 

She was one of the first nurses trained as Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Volunteer officers and helped set up the SAF’s First Field Hospital.

Besides volunteering locally, Ms Lee was also involved in the Singapore International Foundation’s Singapore Volunteers Overseas Programme.

Among the missions she went on included a training course in midwifery skills in Laos in 1997, and a Myanmar care project in 1999.

Ms Sylvia Cheang Siew Lian Neo

Principal Nursing Officer, 1984 – 1989
Director, Nursing, 1989 – 2002

Ms Sylvia Cheang was Singapore General Hospital's (SGH) longest-serving Director of Nursing from 1984 to 2002.

Notably, she saw through the restructuring of SGH in 1989, introducing new initiatives within the Nursing Division to be more responsive to the needs of patients.

She created the Senior Nursing Officer (now Senior Nurse Manager) post to bring greater autonomy to the wards and accountability of the unit’s operations, services and staffing. New uniforms were also introduced for nurses as SGH was restructured and corporatised, making it free to develop its own identity and make service improvements.

New ideas in the wards were introduced and extended which included decentralised nurse call system, patient education, and new roles such as specialty nurses to support specialisation.

For her contributions to the nursing profession, Ms Cheang was awarded the Public Administration Bronze Medal in 2000.

Associate Professor Lim Swee Hia

Director, Nursing, 2004 – 2012
Group Director of Nursing, SingHealth, 2004 – 2012
President’s Award for Nurses (SGH Award Recipient), 2002

Associate Professor Lim Swee Hia wore many hats during her long and fruitful career — Singapore General Hospital‘s (SGH) Director of Nursing and SingHealth Group Director of Nursing, researcher, teacher and mentor.

But she was always a nurse at heart, inspiring her staff so much that few of them left during her watch. Indeed, she grew the collective staff strength of SingHealth nurses to nearly 7,000.

In 2004, Professor Lim was named Director of Nursing, SGH as well as Group Director, Nursing, SingHealth.

She tirelessly championed higher education and greater training for nurses during her years in nursing. She was instrumental in encouraging SingHealth nurses to pursue higher tertiary qualifications and played a pivotal role in establishing the SingHealth Alice Lee Institute of Advanced Nursing, which provides nursing specialisation programmes and practice-based training for nursing and healthcare support staff in Singapore.

Associate Professor Dr Tracy Carol Ayre

Group Chief Nurse, SingHealth, since 2012
Director, Nursing, 2012 – 2014
Chief Nurse, 2014 – 2021
President’s Award for Nurses (SGH Award Recipient), 2007

Throughout her three decades as a Singapore General Hospital (SGH) nurse, including 22 years in senior roles, Associate Professor Tracy Carol Ayre has contributed immensely to the nursing profession.

With her vision, compassion and leadership, and the strong foundation laid by nursing leaders before her, she helped advance nursing practice to higher standards and broader areas.

She encourages and pushes her nurses to test the boundaries of their skills and abilities in various areas, including informatics, research, training and procedures. Dr Ayre’s contributions to nursing extend beyond SGH and SingHealth.

At the national level, she first served as a board member and subsequently, as Chair of the Singapore Nursing Board.

She played a key role in framing the directions of the National Nursing Taskforce and the Future of Nursing Career Review Taskforce to produce future-ready nurses for Singapore. Beyond Singapore, Dr Ayre has been a Member of the International Research Centre for Communication in Healthcare External Advisory Committee since 2014.

Ms Kwok Moon Hoe

Operating Theatre Manager, 1996 – 2003

Operating Theatre (OT) Manager, Ms Kwok Moon Hoe, was an authority on operating theatre nursing from the 1960s to her retirement in 2003.

She was a shining example of a dedicated operating room nurse who contributed selflessly to advances in her discipline.

She steered OT nursing through critical periods of Singapore General Hospital’s nursing history, planning and establishing the hospital’s modern major OT complex. She has raised the standards of OT nursing so that nurses were well placed and adept during major procedures, such as the historical separation of conjoined twins Ganga and Jamuna and the first heart and lung transplants.

Mr Koh Seoh Kwee 

Nurse Manager, 1982 – 1989
Senior Nurse Manager, 1990 – 2012
Department of Emergency Medicine

Mr Koh Seoh Kwee’s name is synonymous with emergency medicine, having worked at the Department of Emergency Medicine since he was a young staff nurse following his     training in 1967.

During his leadership in the Emergency Department (ED), Mr Koh saw through many major disasters in Singapore.

The first was in 1978 with the Spyros industrial disaster at Jurong Shipyard, which killed 76 people and injured 69 others. This was the first mass casualty disaster that Singapore General Hospital had to handle.

The second was the Sentosa cable car tragedy in 1983 when he had to attend to the rescued passengers. 

Mr Koh also saw through Singapore's deadliest civil disaster since the Spyros disaster. In 1986 during the collapse of the Hotel New World, he had to field a team of nurses from the ED to the site. That disaster left 33 people dead with 17 survivors. 

These incidents led to changes in civil emergency plans to better handle disasters.

Mr Ho Meng Jang  

Occupational Therapy In-charge, 1975 – 1990
Manager, Department of Occupational Therapy, 1990 – 1998

Mr Ho Meng Jang’s distinguished contributions to Singapore’s occupational therapy profession spanned 54 years, of which 43 were with Singapore General Hospital (SGH). He served as the head of department from 1975 to 1998.

After stepping down as head, Mr Ho continued to practise as a full-time clinician and was a mentor to many younger therapists. He was instrumental in establishing specialised hand therapy services in SGH — forging a close partnership with hand surgeons which continues to this day.

His foresight also led him to set up the burns rehabilitation service, complete with a seamstress to fabricate custom-made pressure garments for patients with hypertrophic scars and oedema — a service for which the department received national recognition.

Mr Ho also set the groundwork for occupational health and work rehabilitation services today, having transformed the service from its early days of art and craft, and woodwork, to the use of computerised work hardening equipment.

Mr Albert Lee Tsun Luen  

 Chief Physiotherapist and Manager, Department of Physiotherapy, 1989 – 1995

Mr Albert Lee’s extensive journey in Singapore General Hospital (SGH) started way back in 1957 where he worked as a dispensing assistant at the SGH Dispensary.

In 1958, he was awarded a prestigious scholarship by the colonial government to study physiotherapy in London. After graduation, Mr Lee advocated the use of manual therapy to treat musculoskeletal disorders.

He went on to further develop his expertise in this area, receiving a Colombo Plan Scholarship for Manual Therapy in 1978 and a World Health Organization Fellowship to Australia for Manual Therapy in 1987.

As Chief Physiotherapist, and later Manager of the Physiotherapy Department, Mr Lee led the transformation of the department when SGH became a restructured hospital in 1989. Under his leadership, he brought in state-of-the-art equipment to facilitate patient recovery in the modern SGH Physiotherapy Department sited in SGH Rehabilitation Centre.

Mr Peter Lee Lian Heng  

Head, Department of Medical Social Services, 1992 – 2005

It would be fitting to describe Mr Lee as the ‘pioneer, forever father and legend’ of Singapore General Hospital’s (SGH) Medical Social Services.

A compassionate, fatherly figure to all who are fortunate to know him, Mr Lee continues to inspire and groom numerous medical social workers to pave a path that he has trailblazed since 1970.

From 1970 to 1980, Mr Lee started his ardent and courageous medical social work journey by developing services for patients with mental health illnesses, leprosy and tuberculosis — three of the most socially stigmatised diseases with little or no social resources and support.

Mr Lee set up the Medical Social Services Department at the National Skin Centre in the 1980s and was head of SGH Medical Social Services in 1992. Mr Lee has been integral in establishing guidelines for financial assistance, discharge care planning and psychosocial support which now form the backbone of medical social services.