Kian Ming's recent post "Racial Policies Keeping Malaysian Academics Out", highlighted a Professor Lee Eng Hin, who, due to discriminatory policies migrated to Singapore to pursue his career. His case was highlighted in the Chronicle of Higher Education this month.
I'd just like to add here, exactly who Professor Lee Eng Hin is, and what a brilliant man the country has lost. And our loss, is of course, another country's gain.
You can review a more detailed resume of Professor Lee in the NUS Medical School here. In summary, this man joined the NUS in 1993 as a senior lecturer and was appointed a Professor in Orthopaedic Surgery in 1997. He became the Head of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in 1998, and later became the Director of Graduate Medical School as well as the Dean of the School of Medicine in the year 2000.
At the same time, he is also the Head in the Division of Paediatric Orthopaedics in the National University Hospital as well as a Senior Consultant for the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at KK Women's and Children's Hospital.
Not only is Professor Lee appointed to top leadership positions in one of the world's top ranking universities for the field of medicine, he is also an award-winning one. Professor Lee received the Gallie-Bateman Prize for Research in Basic Science, University of Toronto (1979) as well as the Most Outstanding Basic Science Research Paper, Paediatric Society of North America (1993 and 1996) for his various pieces of seminal work.
Professor Lee is also one of the leading personalities at the forefront of stem cell research in Singapore.
His main research areas are in Musculoskeletal Tissue Engineering and Paediatric Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation. Combining his interest in Paediatric Orthopaedics and Tissue Engineering, he was one of the first to study the use of mesenchymal stem cells in the repair of physeal defects in long bones of children.Not only did this man excel academically and professionally, he is also a socially responsible citizen. Professor Lee was Singapore's President's Social Service Award winner for 2004. He was a "volunteer who stands out above the rest".
This work is now at the stage of clinical application. He has won international research awards twice in the area of tissue engineering and was recently invited to write an editorial on Stem Cells for the Journal of Paediatric Orthopaedics, the premier journal for paediatric orthopaedic surgeons. He was the Presidential Guest Speaker for the British Orthopaedic Association Meeting in September 2004, speaking on "Stem Cells in Orthopaedic Research". He is currently the Program Leader of the NUS Tissue Engineering Program (NUSTEP).
In his work with various voluntary welfare organisations over the past 20 years, Prof Lee has helped to shape the national special education scene as well as improved the quality of life for disabled children.
...His contributions date back to 1984, when he initiated Seating for Severely Disabled Children, a project sponsored by World Orthopaedic Concern to help children who otherwise were unable to sit.This man should have been one of our very own for the nation to be absolutely proud of. But instead of welcoming him with open arms, we helped nudge him to join our neighbour down South. To quote Professor Lee:
... He also helped set up Rainbow Centre, the umbrella body that coordinates the activities of MDSS [Early Intervention Programme, Programme for the Multiply Handicapped and a Programme for Children with Autism] and Balestier Special School in 1992, becoming the Centre's Vice President, then President in 1998.
... For his selfless giving of time and expertise for the good of children with disabilities, Prof Lee has also been presented with two National Day Awards, one in 1998 and another in 2003.
It was obvious you wouldn't get very far if you weren't the right race... Having come here I think I made the right choice... [In Malaysia,] I probably would not have become a head of department and dean of the Faculty of Medicine.I'm a supporter of affirmative action, even possibly a race-based one. However, when affirmative actions mutate into a conspicuous policy of racial discrimination, the negative impact will not only be felt by the discriminated, but also by the ethnic group which the affirmative action is intended to help.
Today, Malaysian students, academics and citizens of all races will not have the benefit of experiencing the academic and research leadership, first class professional expertise and the dedicated humanity of Professor Lee Eng Hin.