Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Search 69

18 November 2006

Saturday, 18 November 2006, 10:16 am. 26 Syawal 1427 Hijrah.

I had to stop writing for a long time to make time for development of the e-learning portal for our medical school. I am on leave for 10 days, so now I can continue to write for this online search. My own bibliography has been included in the Marquis Who's Who 2007, which also cites this online search about the Malay doctors. Whether this online search about the early Malay doctors can be turned into a book I don't know but searches 1-68 are available in manuscript form.

See Searches 26, 31, 48 concerning Prof. Dato' Dr. Ungku Omar Ungku Ahmad.

See Search 62 concerning IMR, KL and KE VII College of Medicine.

Next year Malaysia celebrates its 50th Independence on 31 August 2007. Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) also intends to include a multimedia presentation on Dr. Ungku Omar in its proposed International Medical & Health Congress, 25-27 May 2007, to be held on USM Health Campus in Kubang Kerian, Kelantan. I was asked to help by providing information about Dr. Ungku Omar so I gave only Search 48 which contained the only information I had about Dr. Ungku Omar based on the account by Dr. Mohd. Bakri Musa. However, Dr. Azman Zulkifli, a lecturer in the Human Genome Centre, School of Medical Sciences had forwarded a web address by Universiti Malaya (UM) which had a detailed biography (about 4 A4 pages) of Dr. Ungku Omar (see

This is a short write-up about Dr. Ungku Omar based on the information provided at the UM website mentioned above and from my Searches 26, 31 & 48. Details about Prof. Dato' Dr. Ungku Omar Ungku Ahmad in Search 26 was provided by En. Mohd. Fadli Ghani.

A. Biography of Prof. Dato' Dr. Ungku Omar Ungku Ahmad for inclusion in IMHC, 25-28 May 2007

Professor Dato' Dr. Ungku Omar Ungku Ahmad (Class of 1957)(1931-1969)

He was born on 18 January 1931 (same year as my late mother) in Johor Bahru, Johore. He entered Sekolah Melayu in Keluang, Segamat, Pontian, and Tangkak between 1938-1944 (just before the Japanese Occupation), and Sekolah Agama Johor until he passed standard 6 (lulus darjah 6). He entered Malay College, Kuala Kangsar (MCKK). He finally entered the Medical School, University Malaya, Singapore - he entered directly into second year. He graduated with MBBS in 1957 (Merdeka year; my elder sister was born). He continued to do specialist training at the Royal College of Physicians, London and Royal College of Surgeons, England. He passed as a pathologist in 1962 (my youngest brother was born). He was accepted as a member of the College of Pathologists, London in 1964. He commenced writing of his PhD thesis in Clinical Chemistry entitled "Electrolytes in isolated human leucocytes" in 1965. He was accepted as a member of the Institute of Biology, London in the same year. He was accepted as an honorary member of the American College of American Pathologists, USA in 1967.

Dr. Ungku Omar was a trainee doctor (doktor pelatih) in Johor Bahru, Johore in 1957. He then became a medical and research officer (pegawai perubatan dan penyelidikan) in Pusat Penyelidikan Perubatan (Institute of Medical Research, IMR), Kuala Lumpur until 1961. He became a Registrar in the Department of Pathology, Royal Free Hospital, School of Medicine, London in 1962. After completion of his PhD, he became the first Malay to be appointed as the Director of IMR, KL. He published more than 40 scientific papers in his research area during his lifetime.

Dr. Ungku Omar held many posts, among them include: Director of IMR, KL; Director of Anti-Malaria Campaign under Ministry of Health Malaysia; Director of Medical Laboratories and Health, Malaysia; Director of the National Blood and Transfusion Services; Chairman of the Islamic College Council (Majlis Kolej Islam); Member of Board Directors of Yayasan Tengku Abdul Rahman; Member of Board of Directors of Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP); Executive Programme Chairman of the Anti-Malaria Committee; Chairman of the Anti-Malaria Taskforce Committee; Chairman of Standards Institute of Malaysia, Biological and Medicinal Industry Standards; Council Chairman of the Medical Terminology Committee, Johor Bahru which was recognised by DBP; Member of the Specialists Committee, Ministry of Health Malaysia; Member of the National Leprosy Committee; Board Member of Hospital Assistants; UM Alumni; Member (officer) Whitley Council; Chairman of Whitley Council Institutes of Research; Lecturer of the National Civic Centre, Ministry of Information; Chief of the Malaysian Delegates to ASA Technical Cooperation and Research  Committee Meeting (Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia); Board Member of the Southeast Asian Medical and Educational Cooperation (SEAMEC) for Tropical Medicine; Member of the UNESCO Social Sciences Committee; Member of the Higher Education Council, Malaysia; Member of the National Administrative Development Committee, Prime Minister's Department; Member, Board of Directors, Institute of Standards Malaysia, Ministry of Trade and Industry; Member of the UKM Foundation Committee; and Secretary General of the Association of Senior Government Officers.

Dr. Ungku Omar was accorded the medal for Darjah Setia Mahkota (DSM) by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in Jun 1967 and the Darjah Kerabat Yang Amat Dihormati (DK) by the Sultan Johor in October 1967. He was bestowed the title of Professor by Universitas Indonesia. He died on 15 February 1969 at age 38 years.

The main auditorium in IMR, KL has been named after him as Auditorium Ungku Omar.

B. Historical account of the life of Prof. Dato' Dr. Ungku Omar Ungku Ahmad for multimedia production for IMHC, 25-28 May 2007

Prof. Dato' Dr. Ungku Omar Ungku Ahmad (18 January 1931-1969; Class of 1957)

The UM website described Prof. Dato' Dr. Ungku Omar as a scientist, a renowned Malay doctor, an icon of Malay intelligence, one who always thought of the development of the Malays and their religion, Islam.

Prof. Dato' Dr. Ungku Omar served at IMR, KL between 1967-1969 following his return from England. He was very active and contributed greatly and held many important posts in the government health sector. He died at 38 years, 12 years after Merdeka.

Prof. Dato' Dr. Ungku Omar is best remembered for a quote based on his outlook on health which is "Health is sustainable development - can't be progressive without health" (kesihatan itulah kemajuan - tak sihat manakan maju). This he delivered to stress the importance of deploying the Malay language in trying to educate the rural Malays concerning money, medicine, nutrition and health.

Prof. Dato' Dr. Ungku Omar had contributed greatly towards education and national development. The Ungku Omar Polytechnic in Ipoh is named after him. The main auditorium in IMR, KL is named as Auditorium Ungku Omar.

This book "Collected Works of Ungku Omar" should have a lot about the work of Prof. Dato' Dr. Ungku Omar.


--Malaya before Merdeka--

1931. Dr. Ungku Omar was born on 18 January 1931 in Johor Bahru, Johor, in West Peninsular Malaya.

Note: Dr. Ungku Omar was born just before Dato' Dr. Che Lah Mohd. Joonos graduated from KE VII.

1937-1945. Dr. Ungku Omar received early education in the Malay School at various places in Johor especially in Kluang, Segamat, Pontian and Tangkak. He also completed religious studies in Johor until standard six.

--Japanese invasion during WW2, post-Japan period until Merdeka (1945-1957)--

1945-1948. Japanese Occupation of Malaya.

1948-1952. Dr. Ungku Omar was an intelligent student and did not stop at just primary education but went on to further his studies at the secondary level. He attended the Malay College in Kuala Kangsar, Perak.

1953-1957. He then went on to study medicine at Universiti Malaya (UM), Singapore campus. He probably entered the KEVII College, Singapore in 1953 at age 22. The UM website indicated that Dr. Ungku Omar entered directly into second year. Dr. Ungku Omar received his MBBS degree and graduated in the Class of 1957 at age 26.

Note: Dato' Dr. Che Lah Mohd. Joonos was almost nearing retirement (he must have retired on 10 December 1957, 3 months after Merdeka) when Dato' Dr. Ungku Omar had just entered KEVII.

--Merdeka, newborn Malaysia (1957-1960)--

1957-1958. Dr. Ungku Omar then trained as a houseman in Johor Bahru.

1958/59-1960. Upon completion of housemanship, Dr. Ungku Omar then served as a medical officer and performed research at the Institute of Medical Research (IMR), Jalan Pahang in Kuala Lumpur.

--Overseas in England (1961-1967)--

1961-1962. Dr. Ungku Omar left for England to further his studies. He obtained his Diploma in Pathology from the Royal College of Physicians, London and the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1962.

1962-1964. Dr. Ungku Omar served as Registrar in the Department of Pathology, Royal Free Hospital, School of Medicine, London. He worked for 2 years as Registrar and was promoted toSenior Registrar in the same department at the Royal Free Hospital. He was also accepted as a member of the College of Pathologists, London.

1965. Dr. Ungku Omar continued his studies at PhD level and received his PhD in Clinical Chemistry in 1965. His PhD thesis was entitled "Electrolytes in Isolated Human Leucocytes". He was accepted as a member of the Institute of Biology, London in 1965.

1967. Dr. Ungku Omar was accepted as Honorary Member of the College of American Pathologists, USA in 1967.

--Upon returning to Malaysia, citations & records of his work until death (1967-1969)--

1967/68? When did Dr. Ungku Omar return to Malaysia?

--1) Contribution to medical R&D in Malaysia--

Upon his return to Malaysia, Dr. Ungku Omar served as the Director of IMR, KL. He was the first Malay to hold such post. His leadership helped to raise the reputation of IMR. His research findings on health and medicine were published. His research was published locally and overseas. He had published a total of more than 40 papers in his field of specialization.

What did he research on specifically? What was his field of specialization? What/where were his publications?

He was an accomplished scientist locally and globally.

Dr. Bakri mentioned he came across Dr. Ungku Omar's paper in the Journal of Physiology while he (Dr. Bakri) was doing research in transplant immunology in Canada, and that he was very excited to see a Malay name, so he promptly wrote to Dr. Ungku Omar. Dr. Bakri described him as 'very nice' because he replied immediately.

When was Dr. Ungku Omar's paper published in the Journal of Physiology - what volume/issue/year? What was the title of that article? When did Dr. Bakri do research on transplant immunology in Canada? When was Dr. Bakri in Canada?

Dr. Ungku Omar recruited Dr. Bakri to Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).

When did Dr. Ungku Omar recruit Dr. Bakri to UKM? When did Dr. Bakri join UKM?

--2) Contribution to youth development & rural Malay agricultural economy--

His patriotism was envisioned in his agenda to pave development and progress for the Muslim mass, which included overcoming poverty of the Malays and those unintentionally left out of mainstream development and progress. What were his contributions? When did he contribute & in what form?

Apart from his duties as a medical officer and researcher, Dr. Ungku Omar also discussed several issues pertaining to the impact of rural socio-economy on health and medicine in the post-Merdeka period. He gave many ideas and helped to shed some light on the plight of the rural poor especially how their lives were entangled in the vicious cycle of poverty, lack of food, lack of education, unequal access to medicine and inherent inability to overcome poor health conditions.

1968. On another aspect of rural socio-economy, he particularly stressed on the role of youths in the development of Malaysia which he wrote in his paper entitled "Mens Sana in Copore Sano" (a Latin title which means Healthy Brains Today) which was presented at an agricultural seminar, "Agricultural Seminar and Industry" in the Agricultural College, Serdang (now Universiti Putra Malaysia, UPM) in February 1968.

--His list of publications & their brief contents--

Bahasa Melayu Dalam Lapangan Kesihatan, Perubatan dan Rumah Sakit. Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka (DBP), Vol II, No. II, 1958:530-35.
  • Lack of food due to poverty
  • Lack of money due to lack of education & lack of income
  • Knowledge for obtaining wealth but via the use of English
  • Widen the use of the Malay language and uplift its status so that rural people can obtain the right information concerning healthcare and can obtain better income
Keadaan Kesihatan Di Luar Bandar Penting Untuk Proses Pembangunan Dalam Segala Bidang. Simposium Masalah Pembangunan Penduduk Luar Bandar. Persatuan Bahasa Melayu, Universiti Malaya. September 1967.
  • Health status of the rural people
  • How rural health deteriorated as a result of being ignored
  • 6X Higher death rate among rural vs urban
  • Poverty related to diseases such as malaria, typhoid (kepialu), elephantiasis (untut), worms (cacing), lack of food, anaemia, etc
  • Larger allocation for rural development to overcome diseases, as opposed to current practices of helping the urban people as priority, as this could frustrate the rural people
  • Education of the Malays
  • Suggestion for the establishment of an Islamic university to accommodate the Malay students who were left out of UM due to their poor command of English. The Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) was then established in the 1980s
--His radio programme--

According to the UM website, Dr. Ungku Omar was well-known as "Doktor Radio" as he gave talks on health and science via Radio Malaysia (now RTM).

Dr. Bakri recalled while he was on a holiday trip to Malaysia, he heard Dr. Ungku Omar's radio programme on health and found it very informative.

When did Dr. Ungku Omar start his radio programme? What did he talk about mostly?

--His other activities--

According to the UM website, Dr. Ungku Omar was involved with Malay literature and culture (sastera & budaya) and he belonged to ASAS 50.

What was ASAS 50?

--His various posts held, need dates--
  • Director, IMR, KL
  • Director, Malaria Eradication Services, MOH
  • Director, Medical Lab & Health, Malaysia
  • Director, National Blood Transfusion Services
  • Chairman, Islamic College Council
  • Member, Council of Directors, Tunku Abdul Rahman Foundation
  • Member, Council of Directors, Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka (DBP)
  • Chairman, Operation Programme, Committee for Eradication of Malaria
  • Chairman, Action Committee for Eradication of Malaria
  • Chairman, Committee for Biological and Medicinal Industry Standards, Standards Institutes of Malaysia (now SIRIM)
  • Chairman, Council Committee for Medical Terminologies, Johor Bahru (recognized by DBP)
  • Member, Specialist Committee, MOH
  • Member, National Leprosy Committee
  • Member, Council of Hospital Assistants
  • Member of UM
  • Member (officer), Whitley Council
  • Chairman, Whitley Medical Research Institutes
  • Lecturer, National Civic Centre, Ministry of Penerangan
  • Chef de Mission, Malaysian Delegation to ASA Technical Cooperation & Research Committee Meeting, Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia
  • Member, Council for Coordination of Southeast Asian Medical Cooperation in Tropical Medicine (SEAMEC)
  • Member, Committee for Social Sciences, UNESCO
  • Member, Council for Higher Studies, Malaysia
  • Member, National Committee for Administrative Development, Prime Minister's Department
  • Member, Council of Directors, Malaysian Institute of Standards, Ministry of Trade and Industry
  • Member, Organizing Committee for the Establishment of UKM
  • Chief Secretary, Senior Government Officials Association
--Awards received--
  • Awarded the Darjah Setia Mahkota (D.S.M) from Yang Di-Pertuan Agong in June 1967
  • Awarded the Darjah Kerabat Yang Amat Dihormati from Sultan Johor in October 1967
  • Awarded Professor by Universitas Indonesia in 1968
--His demise--

1969. However, by the time Dr. Bakri returned to Malaysia the following year, Dr. Ungku Omar had died suddenly apparently from jogging (sudden death). Prof. Dato' Dr. Ungku Omar died on 15 February 1969, aged 38 years.

Need further information

Where was Dr. Ungku Omar buried?
Was he ever married? Yes
Did he have children? Yes


Puan Nazni
Dept. of Entomology
Institute of Medical Research (IMR), Jalan Pahang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
E-mail received: Tuesday, 22 July 2003 at 9:49:19 pm (Search 1)
Reply: Informed that one of the Malay doctors was Dr Ungku Omar Ahmad. Mentioned of a book entitled "Collected Works of Ungku Omar"; this book mentioned Tan Sri Dr Raja Ahmad Noordin.

En. Fadli Ghani
(writer & PhD student)
Pengarah Akademi Kajian Kota, Kuala Lumpur
En. Fadli Ghani is in the social sciences. He has BA in Linguistics and Social Development from UPM, MA in Dialog Peradaban from UM, and MA in Political Science from UKM. He is currently preparing his PhD in Malaysian History. Akademi Kajian Kota is a socio-political research establishment.

Dr. M. Bakri Musa
Columnist with Malaysiakini (

UM Website on Siri Profil Tokoh based on the book "Profil Tokoh-Tokoh Gemilang Universiti Malaya" (1949-1999). Accessed on 14 November 2006.
The book includes biographies of 50 eminent figures in UM's history. The book can be obtained from Bahagian Perhubungan Awam, telephone 03-7967-3265 or e-mail . Each book is priced at RM60.00

Photographs of KE VII College of Medicine (established in 1905)
There are many articles which contain images of the KEVII buildings:
Journal article written by Dr. Cheah, NUS, Singapore (check NUS Alumni website)
Dr. Cheah's book "To Sail Uncharted Seas" (S$60.00) (contact Dean, Medical School, NUS)
Autobiography of Tun Dr. Hasmah Mat Ali produced by DBP, Kuala Lumpur (year?)
TV3 featured Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at KEVII Medical College in October 2003
Teo ES. The history of the College of Medicine and Tan Teck Guan Buildings. Annals of the Academy of Medicine of Singapore. 2005 Jul;34(6):61C-71C.

Institute for Medical Research (IMR), Kuala Lumpur (established in 1900)
Address: Institute for Medical Research, Jalan Pahang, 50588 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 603-2698 6033
Fax: 603-2693 8306
IMR celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2004
IMR is probably the oldest building
IMR ground faces the Grand Seasons Hotel, KL
I have its publication up to 1950

International Medical & Health Congress (IMHC), 25-28 May 2007, In Memory of Ungku Omar
Venue: School of Medical Sciences, Health Campus, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 16150 Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, Malaysia
Secretariat: IMHC 2007, Clinical Research Platform, Level 3, School of Dental Sciences, Health Campus, USM, 16150 Kubang Kerian, Kelantan
Tel: 609-766 3117 / 3760
Fax: 609-765 6291
Multimedia presentation "In Memory of Ungku Omar" - contact Assoc. Prof. Phua Kia Kien, Dr. Hamid Fauzi, or Puan Che Engku Ramlah Che Engku Mat

Telehealth Research Group
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School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia