Saturday, 29 October 2011

Doctors in the East

Ho Tak Ming. 2001. Doctors in the East. Where West meets East.  Pelanduk Publications, Selangor, Malaysia. ISBN 967-978-770-2 [USM call number WZ56 H678 2001]

My review:
The book has 12 chapters. Chapters 1-9 give the historical accounts of the Chinese doctors in China and the coming of Western Medicine. Chapters 10-12 are interesting, and quite amusing too, especially that bit that touches on the Taoist belief in ching and how to keep it within (for males only), and thus remain forever young. Opium is discussed in great detail with a mention that the Arabs had brought opium to China for medical purposes but the Chinese took to its addiction. The last chapter discusses Cheng Ho and Sa Poh Kung in Nanyang. Nanyang refers to Southeast Asia or Nusantara. Also discusses Baba (but not Nyonya) status and their anglophile behaviour and preferences, compared to their sinkehs counterparts who were very Chinese. It also discusses Chinese travel beyond Nanyang, Chinese diaspora, and the Chinese Emperor's ruling not to allow Chinese emigration. The Chinese preferred to stay in China but they were taken to Malaya by the British to work in the tin mines. Places mentioned include Kwangtung and Marco Polo's Zayton or Canton. The history of the FMS Medical School and its initial funding are discussed. Important doctors in Chinese medical history are Dr Sun Yat Sen and Dr Wu Lien-Teh. Dr Wu Lien-Teh was born in Penang but fought the plague in China - he had researched at the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) in Kuala Lumpur.

This book provides a lot of insights into Chinese medicine in Asia and Southeast Asia. It helps explain some of the gaps in our medical history and links great nations - Malaysia, Singapore, China and Hong Kong.

A plus point of this English book is its use of French, Chinese and Malay words. It has a lot of beautiful poems.