Honour Dr Wu Lien-Teh’s contributions

  • Letters
  • Thursday, 10 Mar 2016

Dr.Wu (centre) with Tunku Abdul Rahman (left) and Tan Cheng Lock, taken in Ipoh in the late 50s.

TODAY would have been the 137th birthday of Dr Wu Lien-Teh (pix, centre).

Born in Penang in 1879, he was truly one of the greatest public health specialists and legends of the last century.

Among his many distinctive achievements are the following.

He set up the Anti-Opium Society in Malaysia and fought against colonial racism, and succeeded in both.

He was the “Plague Fighter” who saved China from a devastating pneumonic plague a century ago.

He started the China Medical Association, now the largest in the world, and wrote the classic The History of Chinese Medicine (1932).

He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine in the mid-30s, the first Malaysian ever to be nominated for this prestigious award.

He set up some 20 modern hospitals in China and was honoured with a museum dedicated to him in the historic city of Harbin, China.

He set up a public library in Perak.

He was the first Malaysian to graduate from the University of Cambridge in Medicine, always with the best results, and also obtained a PhD from there. He was later honoured by several other prestigious universities.

Dr Wu died in Penang in 1960 and a garden near the Penang Free School where he studied was named after him.

His ashes are at the Batu Gantung Crematorium.

The best news recently was the launch in Harbin of the Dr Wu Lien-Teh Institute.

We believe this new institute will be a great place, a beacon, for new and inspirational knowledge in public health issues. We are also collaborating with the United Nations University – International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) which hopefully will lead to more global networking.

To honour Dr Wu’s work and to inspire new and future generations, the Dr Wu Lien-Teh Society has set up the Dr Wu Lien-Teh Research Awards. Each of the six awards comes with a certificate, a medal and cash prize.

There will be two components to the awards, the Young Investigators Award and the Research Poster Award. The awards will be presented annually at the National Conference for Clinical Research organised by the Health Ministry.

Our hope is that this forgotten medical legend will become part of every medical school featuring curriculum on the medical history of Malaysia.

We believe that Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) will be a great place to acknowledge this legend through the following ways:

1. Name the new Medical Faculty after him.

2. Name a major auditorium after him.

3. Reprint the unique book, The History of Chinese Medicine.

4. Organise an annual Dr Wu Lien-Teh Memorial Lecture on Medicine.

5. Name an annual scholarship after him.

6. Name a prize for Best Medical Student after him.

I hope UTAR will consider these proposals as Tunku Abdul Rahman and Dr Wu were good friends.

Visit our website, www.wulientehsociety.org, to learn more, and join the society to support the legacy and inspirational work of this truly Malaysian legend.


President, Dr. Wu Lien-Teh Society, Penang

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Opinion , Letters , Dr Wu Lien-Teh


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