Singapore — Opposition Progress Singapore Party (PSP) leader Tan Cheng Bock has released the first of a series of podcasts to share stories about his life and experiences throughout the years. He also answered questions from those listening in.
Dr Tan is popular with social media members as a “hypebeast” due to his ability to keep up with trends. On Wednesday (Aug 26), he released his first podcast episode entitled, “I’m The D-O-C-T-O-R”. It is available on Spotify, Apple and Google podcasts.
In the episode, Dr Tan explained that medicine was his first love because he had seen his father suffer from severe tuberculosis. “Watching him going through life, taking medicine and seeing doctors probably inspired me that I should be more than a son. I should also try to doctor him.”
He then had to choose where to have his clinic, whether in the city or outside it. He chose Ama Keng Village because he felt the ambience was quite right for him and would maximise his role as a doctor.
However, he almost did not become one. Right after his O-levels, when he had a place in to do medicine in the pre-university class at Raffles Institution, his father passed away. This left Dr Tan with minimal funds to continue his studies. Fortunately, a classmate’s father was the principal at RI and he arranged for Dr Tan to receive a bursary for his pre-university studies. While he also gave tuition, the bursary helped with the family’s finances.
When asked if he had words of wisdom for health practitioners, Dr Tan said: “Do what you believe in. You must persevere in what you want to do, and you must do it correctly … the right thing. Your values must be there. Your compassion for the people and your friends. Being a doctor is not just dishing out medicine.”
Dr Tan first practised medicine at Ama Keng Village, which was quite far from the city. He would often be faced with serious cases. It was like he had an A&E (Accident and Emergency) unit every day. When the cases could not be managed with the clinic’s facilities, he drove the patients in his car to hospital in the city for the necessary medical attention. “You’re not only a doctor but also a driver as well,” he said. “But this is all part of the joy of being a doctor in the village.”
He noted that the villagers were poor and there were times when his patients could not pay him for his services. “But it’s not the money that matters. It is the joy of looking after them even during these difficult times.”
He reminisced about the moment when the father of a severely asthmatic boy offered his wedding ring as payment. Dr Tan told him to keep it and the family not to worry about the fees. About 10 years later, at his relocated clinic in Jurong West, the boy visited Dr Tan and presented him with a hamper. His parents had advised him to repay the doctor when he was better off.
“It is the joy of receiving the parcel that reminded me of the little boy gasping for air when I first saw him. And now he’s so strong, and he’s going to the States to study. That was the biggest present and the biggest reward you can get as a doctor.”
Dr Tan, who received many questions from those watching the podcast, had time to respond to two of them on the show. One asked him about the qualities that made a good doctor and another wanted to know his formula for staying energetic and active at his age.
In reply to the first question, he said: “Compassion, caring but don’t let money be the most important thing when you become a doctor. Because that may cloud your ability to become a good doctor. So, if you put that aside and think of how best you can really contribute to the people you’re serving, I think that is far more important. The qualities (compassion and caring) will come after.”
For the second question, Dr Tan stressed the importance of enjoying the company of friends of all ages and interacting with people of all races.
Those interested in sending Dr Tan a question can do so by email or a direct message to his Instagram account.
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