A Night of Collegiality – SMA Annual Dinner 2023

Sylvia Thay

The SMA Annual Dinner held on 22 July 2023 saw more than 400 distinguished guests, overseas delegates and friends of the profession gathered at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel's newly renovated grand ballroom.

Joining us for the evening were Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and his wife; Mr Chan Yeng Kit, Permanent Secretary for Health; Dr Beh Swan Gin, Permanent Secretary (Development), Ministry of Trade and Industry; Prof Kenneth Mak, Director-General of Health; Dr Ho Kaiwei, Deputy Secretary (Development), Ministry of Health; Dr Tan Wu Meng, Member of Parliament for Jurong GRC and Chairperson of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health; Dr Lim Wee Kiak, Member of Parliament for Sembawang GRC; Mr Anthony Tan, CEO of MOH Holdings; presidents of the ASEAN medical associations; past SMA Presidents and Honorary Members; and fellow medical professionals, stakeholders and partners.

Kicking off the dinner, SMA President Dr Ng Chee Kwan delivered a warm welcome to the Guest of Honour and SMA Honorary Membership recipient Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and all who were present, before sharing a little about how he first came to be a part of the Association and its Council. Dr Ng also shed light on the work SMA has been doing for the medical profession, especially in recent years (see page 12).

The highest honour

The SMA Honorary Membership was first instituted in 1969 and is the highest honour that SMA can bestow upon individuals who are distinguished in public life or who have rendered meritorious service to the medical profession or to the Association.

Dr Wong Chiang Yin took to the stage to deliver the citation for Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, whom he found to be one of the very few persons to fit into a category of eminent doctors who have also served and led this country with distinction. Dr Wong shared personal insights into Dr Balakrishnan's character, including lessons learnt from him. He ended the citation saying this of Dr Balakrishnan: "who, above all else, I consider a good chap, and who has decided to give his all to serve his patients, his profession and his fellow countrymen; often with distinction, and always with decency and dignity."

Inviting Dr Balakrishnan on stage, Dr Ng Chee Kwan presented to him the Honorary Membership in the form of a calligraphy scroll written by renowned calligrapher Mr Kee Meng Cheng. His works have been presented to previous SMA Honorary Members, including the late Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, Former President Tony Tan, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Former Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Former Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, just to name a few.

In Chinese culture, there is the concept of the three "non-decayable" or "three permanents": "三不朽。立言 不朽,立功不朽和, 立德不朽" Loosely translated, it means there are three things that one can achieve in life that do not decay:

  • Establishing virtue that does not decay;
  • Establishing service or work to the nation that does not decay; and
  • Establishing words or speech that do not decay.

Dr Wong had chosen these four words for our Honorary Member: “立功不朽”, which means establishing service or work to the nation that does not decay. We believe these four words aptly describe what our Honorary Member has done in his decades of public service, first as a doctor and then as a political leader. His contributions to Singapore will stand the test of time and will not decay.

Following the awarding of the Honorary Membership, Dr Balakrishnan expressed his thanks and appreciation for the SMA, and shared a few words of encouragement with his fellow doctors.

Appreciation for those who give

The work and achievements of SMA and our charity arm, the SMA Charity Fund (SMACF), are the fruits of labour of many generous donors and dedicated volunteers who give their time and energy to support the Association's efforts. We thus acknowledged these individuals with awards presented over the span of dinner in the presence of colleagues and friends.

SMA Merit Award

The SMA Merit Award was presented to five recipients this year, recognising these individuals who have made significant contributions to SMA and the medical profession, or who have provided social service to the community.

Prof Vathsala Anantharaman for her achievements in the field of organ transplantation and significant contributions to academic medicine in Singapore. Prof Vathsala is the Head of the Department of Medicine at the National University Hospital (NUH) and NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Medicine) and Co-Director of the National University Centre for Organ Transplantation at NUH. She has been at the helm of many milestones in renal transplantation in Singapore, such as the first spousal kidney transplant in 1991.

Dr Beh Swan Gin for his significant contributions in public service, and his leading role in the development of Singapore's biomedical sciences industry. Dr Beh is the Permanent Secretary (Development) at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and was Chairman of the Economic Development Board from 2014 to 2023. He is a medical doctor by training and graduated from NUS Medicine. In 2006 and 2007, Dr Beh held concurrent appointments as the executive director of the Biomedical Research Council at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, and the director of the Ministry of Trade and Industry's Energy Planning Division.

Prof Chow Wan Cheng for her significant contributions to the field of gastroenterology and hepatology in Singapore, in particular the areas of viral hepatitis and liver transplantation. The SMA also commends her contributions to academic medicine, including the implementation of professional training competencies for house officers and specialist training for gastroenterology. Prof Chow is a senior consultant at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), and clinical associate professor at NUS Medicine and Duke-NUS Medical School. She was also the Head of Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in SGH from 2004 to 2009.

Prof Tan Puay Hoon for her significant contributions to the medical profession especially in the field of breast and urologic pathology, and academic medicine in Singapore. Prof Tan is a pathologist with Luma Medical Centre Singapore. She has held several international and regional leadership positions, including being a past president of the International Society of Breast Pathology and the immediate past convenor of the Assembly of the Asia-Pacific International Academies of Pathology. Prof Tan also sits on the editorial boards of multiple academic journals.

Mr Thali Koattiath Udairam for his significant contributions in the development of healthcare policy and public healthcare administration for over 40 years, and his contributions to SMACF as its director from 2013 to 2023. He is the Singapore/international CEO of Sheares Healthcare Group, a Temasek subsidiary. Mr Udairam played a key role in developing and implementing the first computerised hospital administration system in Singapore in 1984 and was part of the team which developed and rolled out the Medisave scheme.

Donor Appreciation Awards

In celebration of the SMACF's ten-year anniversary and to thank the donors for their years of support, the following VIP donors were presented with plaques of recognition at the dinner.

Platinum tier

Adj Prof Tan Sze Wee

Dr Wong Chiang Yin

Dr Benjamin Tan Jia Xing

Joint-name bursary tier

In honour of the late Dr Michael Benedict Toh Kok Kuan (received by A/Prof Matthias Toh)

In honour of the late Mdm Lee Na Na (received by Dr Ong Eng Kang)

To find out more about the SMACF donor recognition programme, please visit

Token of appreciation

The SMA is led by a 20-doctor-strong Council who devote their time and energy to the work of the Association, in the hope of achieving betterment for the medical profession. In recognition of his service on the SMA Council since 2013, a token of appreciation was presented to Adj A/Prof Tan Tze Lee who stepped down this year.

SMA Long Service Awards

The SMA Long Service Award serves to appreciate individuals who have contributed their time and services to SMA's Council and committees. We would like to express our thanks to all the awardees for your contributions in support of the Association's work!

30 years of service

Dr Jonathan Pang Sze Kang: Squash, SMA Sports and Games Committee since 1990

20 years of service

Dr Jeevarajah Nithiananthan: Chess, SMA Sports and Games Committee since 2003

10 years of service

Dr Chia Yih Woei: SMA Sports and Games Committee since 2013

Dr Chin Yuan Hui Andrew: SMA-NK Yong Wine Appreciation Chapter since 2013

Dr Chng Nai Wee: Soccer, SMA Sports and Games Committee since 2013

Adj A/Prof Sim Kang: Singapore Medical Journal (SMJ) Editorial Board since 2013

Dr Lim Kheng Choon: SMA Council since 2013; Membership Committee since 2014; Professional Indemnity Committee since 2022

Adj A/Prof Tan Tze Lee: SMA Council (2013–2023)

A/Prof Teo Boon Wee Jimmy: SMA News Editorial Board since 2013

Prof Wong Wai Keong: SMJ Editorial Board since 2013


Tan Kie Chuan: Manager, Technology & Applications, 10 years of service

Ashley Soh: Senior Executive, Technology & Applications, 5 years of service

SMJ Best Research Paper Award

The SMJ Best Research Paper Award was launched in 2004 to encourage the publication of high quality local and international research papers within the SMJ, and to promote and recognise local and regional researchers for their achievements. The top three research papers of 2022 were selected from 59 Original Articles published in the SMJ from January to December 2022. SMJ Editor-in-Chief Adj Prof Poh Kian Keong presented the commemorative trophies and certificates to representatives from the following papers.

Published in the February 2022 issue, the award for the paper "Point-of-care hepatitis C screening with direct access referral to improve linkage to care among halfway house residents: a pilot randomised study" was received by the team's representative, Dr Prem Harichander Thurairajah.

The next paper that received the award, "Safety, tolerability and efficacy of LEGA-Kid® mechanical percussion device versus conventional chest physiotherapy in children: a randomised, single-blind controlled study", was also published in the February 2022 issue. Dr Yuen Ling Hue received the award on behalf of her team.

Finally, the paper "Clinical characteristics of spinning-induced rhabdomyolysis and other causes of rhabdomyolysis: a comparative study" published in the October 2022 issue had its award received by Dr Eunizar Omar on behalf of her team.

We congratulate the authors and recipients of the above awards and encourage more quality submissions to SMJ!

As the evening drew to a close

Amid the continued festivities, Honorary Treasurer Adj Asst Prof Ng Chew Lip stepped up on stage to present the two lucky draw prizes to their respective winners.

  1. A framed-up original poster of contemporary artist Shi Lifeng's "Peach Blossom Leaves" worth $2,000 (sponsored by Art Works Advisory) won by Dr Satish LR.
  2. A two-day-one-night stay in the Grand Copthorne Waterfront's Grand Deluxe Room (arranged by SMA) won by A/Prof Pek Wee Yang.

Through the night, dinner guests were seen in conversations with longtime friends, colleagues and classmates, while also making new acquaintances. Our Guest of Honor Dr Balakrishnan was also mingling in the ballroom, frequently surrounded by groups of friends eager to catch up. As with all good things, the SMA Annual Dinner eventually came to an end late into the night, with guests departing with large smiles on their faces.

The 64th SMA Council thanks Dr Vivian Balakrishnan for taking time to grace the event, and for all guests who joined us for the evening. Last but not least, we would like to thank our generous sponsors: Art Works Advisory, Mitsubishi Electric and the Medical Protection Society. Our heartfelt thanks once again to all who have supported and attended the SMA Annual Dinner 2023, and we look forward to having you with us again at the next annual dinner!

The 64th SMA Council with Guest of Honour Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and distinguished guests


Group photo with the calligraphy scroll.
L to R: Mrs Balakrishnan, GOH Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Dr Ng Chee Kwan, Dr Wong Chiang Yin


SMA Long Service Award recipients with SMA 1st Vice President Dr Tan Yia Swam


Adj Asst Prof Ng Chew Lip and the MASEAN delegates at the Dinner

Visit or scan to view more photographs from the evening

Sylvia Thay Deputy Manager


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