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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dr. Wu Lien-teh: Do you know him?

I bet you don't. Neither did I, until I saw a documentary about him on Singapore's Channel NewsAsia yesterday afternoon.

This man was and still is a legend. Dr. Wu Lien-teh 伍连德 was the 1st medical student of Chinese descent to be admitted to the prestigious University of Cambridge in England. And something that does all of us here proud is, he was born in 1879 in Penang in the then Malaya.

Educated at the famous Penang Free School in his early years, he won the coveted Queen's Scholarship held in the Lion City which helped to commence his extraordinary journey. Dr. Wu was an exceptionally brilliant student at the university, having won virtually all the available awards and prizes.

Perhaps Dr. Wu Lien-teh is best known for his pivotal role in salvaging the catastrophic scene of the pneumonic plague pandemic in Manchuria, China in 1910 which claimed tens and thousands of lives. He later chaired the historic International Plague Conference in 1911 which was attended by scientists from the leading European countries and the United States. Dr. Wu moved back to Malaya in 1937 and became a practitioner in Ipoh for another 2 decades and retired 1 year before his death in 1960.

His legacy? Dr. Wu Lien-teh is hailed as the 1st person to modernize China's medical field. Born in a humble family of 10 siblings, no one would have thought that this Penangite would eventually go that far.

1 comment:

Yvonne Vene2ia said...

Thank you for this post. I read this with great pride & I'm very happy that his legacy continues in Malaysia. Dr Wu was an inspirational man on many accounts.

You asked "Dr Wu Lien-teh: Do you know him?" My resounding answer is "Yes, of course. I've always known him ... He was my great grand uncle."