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"In-coming President Address at the SMA Annual Dinner 1999"

Minister for Health, Mr Yeo Cheow Tong, Representatives from our sister medical organisations, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, and friends.

As the incoming President, my first tasks this evening are to set the direction that the incoming Council will take and to introduce the office-bearers of the 40th SMA Council.

I have been advised by my good friends both in and out of the Council that a dinner speech must be short and entertaining. I could make it short but it will probably be too serious to be entertaining.


Dr Cheong Pak Yean has provided the answers to the first two questions. Let me share with you the answer to the third question.


In the year ahead we will focus on three areas: Empowerment, Relationship and Proaction.

These can be easily remembered as ERP. We will be reminded of these three letters every day as we travel around Singapore. Let me say a few words about each of these three areas. 


How can we empower the public to invest in their health and be rewarded with a better health status? Can the Association provide considered and authoritative answers? I believe we can. In the last two decades, we have public forums in our National Medical Conventions to educate our people. This year for example, our Community Health Education Committee has organised not only one but three public forums to update our older Singaporeans on growing old gracefully. We look forward to working with our mass media on further relevant community health education initiatives with which to empower the public.

Many difficulties stand in the way of a satisfying health care encounter both on the part of doctors and patients. We see the need to empower medical colleagues to understand and grapple with health-related technical, etiquette, emotional and ethical issues of the day. We will want to look into ways and means of achieving that.

We have the vision of the Singapore Medical Journal being a high impact journal one day. We need empowerment from our doctors. We would like to persuade them to reserve some of their best papers for the Singapore Medical Journal rather than send them all to top international journals. We have also made plans for the Singapore Medical Journal to have an Educational Section for continuing medical education for all of us doctors as a means of updating ourselves. This is also empowerment.

The Singapore Medical Association will continue to work closely with our fellow countries in ASEAN and the Asia Pacific region toward better health care in our respective countries. This is mutual empowerment at the regional level.


Let me now turn to relationship. We need to continue to nurture the relationship between the Association and its membership, the government, sister professions, the press and the public. Fair and transparent dealing, assertiveness and the desire to work constructively for the good of our patients, country and nation will point us to the best outcome when confronted with any relationship dispute. It must always be remembered that in our dealings, medicine must be above politics.


We need to think, plan and work ahead. Council members have identified five topics for proactive action in the coming year: community health education initiatives, casemix funding problems and solutions, membership services, developing the centre for ethics & professionalism and continuing medical education. The Association will concentrate on two areas – practice management and medical ethics. It will leave the domain-specific CME to the College of Family Physicians and the Academy of Medicine.


We have laid our plans. We look forward to the support and active participation of the various stakeholders. Thank you for your attention.

It now remains for me to introduce my Council office bearers. Please join me on stage as your name is called.