Monday, 4 February 2019

Presentation slides of 8-9 Sept 2015 at UIA


Research Methodology and Challenges in Obtaining Historical Medical Biographies

Faridah Abdul Rashid

Department of Chemical Pathology, School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Health Campus, 16150 Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, Malaysia.

The books Biography of the Early Malay Doctors 1900-1957 Malaya and Singapore (B-TEMD) and Research on the Early Malay Doctors 1900-1957 Malaya and Singapore (R-TEMD) were published by Xlibris in 2012. They are available online at , and from Kinokuniya at KLCC in Kuala Lumpur.

This presentation explains the approaches used to obtain resources and information on The Early Malay Doctors, the challenges met and motivation. The approaches included phone conversations plus interviews, letter-writing, emails, face-to-face interviews, short messages signalling (SMSes) and home visitations. Resources used included newspapers in local and overseas archives, school magazines, town council publications, doctors’ official records and travel documents, photographs in personal collections, national and overseas archives, state and national museums, and Tabung Haji publications and exhibitions. Various resources on The Early Malay Doctors were compiled, collated and organised online, initially at a USM Telehealth website, and later at Blogger, Each book now has a Facebook page.

There were 75 searches between 2002 and 2006 and six interviews between 2006 and 2012. Author logs were prepared to keep track of the numerous communications between the author and each of the doctors’ families and relatives. Altogether, 50 doctors’ biographies were prepared (2 were dropped). Manuscript assessment and review were performed by USM and Xlibris. Manuscript and photo editing were by Xlibris. B-TEMD has 964 pages and 431 photographs. R-TEMD has 392 pages and 57 photographs. Altogether the two books have 48 biographies, 1,356 pages and 488 photographs.

Even though research on The Early Malay Doctors took many years (2002-2012), it provides insights for future research.

Keywords: British Malaya, Malay doctors, Malay medicine

International Conference on Malay Medical Manuscripts, 8-9 Sept 2015, IIUM Kuantan Campus, Pahang, Malaysia.
Keynote IV

77 Presentation slides

Publisher's website

Facebook page for the book, Research on The Early Malay Doctors 1900-1957 Malaya and Singapore (2012).

Old bookstalls on the second floor at Chowrasta Market, Penang Road, George Town, Penang. Old school magazines and history books can be bought here.

Dr Kamil Ariff's entry in Who's Who in Malaya 1925.

This book was published in 2005 and contains a list of names of all the doctors who graduated from the King Edward VII College of Medicine based in Singapore since 1910. This is useful in checking the date of graduation of each doctor. A slack is the names are short and are listed by the father's name or surname or a single letter instead of fullname. Sometimes the names were wrong and therefore misleading. 

Kelantan Museum had photos of the British doctors in Kelantan.

World War II (WW2) was mentioned by all the doctors' families.

Museums provided a clue about our medical history.

Arkib Negara Malaysia (ANM) was most helpful for my research. Dato' Zakiah Hanum's husband allowed me to use photos from Dato' Zakiah's book, which contained a brief biography of Tan Sri Dr Salmah Ismail.

Tan Sri Dr Abdul Majid advised me to read JM Gullick's book on A History of Kuala Lumpur 1856-1939, in order to understand our history. Some articles were obtained online from J Stor. I also read books on Kelantan history.

Dr Mohd Ismail Merican was then DG Health Malaysia. His staff was most helpful in helping my research and supplied a list of doctors, with date of service. But it was missing information on a few early Malay doctors.

When the British officers left Kelantan in 1914/15, they left 2 photo albums with the Kelantan Sultan. These albums are now with the Kelantan Museum. Nobody at Kelantan Museum knows the British officers who gave away the 2 albums to the Sultan. Nobody knows their families. 

Many early Malay doctors served in Kedah. Some have ties to the Kedah Sultanate.

Tun Mahathir has written many books and many books have been compiled which contain his speeches. His photos are in many galleries across Malaysia. I visited his birth home in Alor Star, Kedah and spoke to the staff in-charge. There was a huge family tree chart being prepared for display. 

There were 2 useful archives - British and Australian archives. Both needed a long time to navigate to find relevant information on the doctors. Some articles had photos. But obtaining the photos was difficult. Dr Ruby Abdul Majeed is in the Australian archives.

These bookshops sold hardcover picture postcard books which were useful to understand history and historical setting to write on The Early Malay Doctors.

USM main library in Penang keeps the series Who's Who. This contains useful information on many early Malay doctors. They contain biodata with/without portraits of the young doctors. The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) had names of those who took its exams in London. There are no photos of the doctors and the LSHTM at the time.

Those born between 1920s and 1930s were helpful as they had met the doctors either as a patient or seen the doctors, or knew something about the doctors or their clinic practice.

After graduation from the King Edward VII College of Medicine, the doctors either returned to their hometowns to practise medicine or worked outside their hometown. Knowing where they had worked made it easier to find their homes and clinics, or place of work.

Obtaining correct details of each doctor was tedious. Geni was helpful in a few instances, especially when a doctor's name was found. Access was not possible in most cases.

The Early Malay Doctors could be grouped into 2 factions. This research was made difficult as the surviving doctors had not met the earlier senior doctors who had passed on. They only heard about them. It was frustrating as searching for the families and family members of the earlier senior doctors was almost impossible for a researcher who was born after Merdeka. Detailed records of doctors between 1900 and 1957 were nonexistent.

Mr Mohd Fadli Ghani was a strategic and political researcher in KL. He was visiting someone in Hospital USM and visited me to contribute information about 2 doctors - Dr Kamil Ariff and Dr HS Munshi. He gave the fullname for Dr HS Munshi.

Tan Sri Dr Abdul Majid was the second DG Health Malaysia. He provided information on his successor, Tan Sri Dr Raja Ahmad Noordin (3rd DG) and other doctors - Dr Mustapha Osman, Dr SMA Alhady, Dr Latifah Ghows. Tan Sri Dr Raja Ahmad Noordin's wife, Toh Puan Sri Saliah Wahab provided information on Dr Ungku Omar. Toh Puan Sri Saliah and Norman Said assisted with Tan Sri Dr Raja Ahmad Noordin's biography before and after his demise. Relatives, Norman Said and Raja Parish Adley assisted with photos for Tan Sri Dr Raja Ahmad Noordin's biography. Paulinawati contributed a tribute for his biography.

Prof Datuk Dr Mohammed Anwar Fazal provided information on 3 doctors - Dr Kamil Ariff, Dr Ismail Ghows and Dr Latifah Ghows.

Dr Mohamed bin Taib's biography and photos were provided by his youngest daughter Hjh Salmah bt Hj Mohamed and 3 grandsons.

Dr Pandak Ahmad's biography was narrated by his son, Cikgu Mohd Salleh bin Ahmad, many other family members as well as relatives. Both men are deceased.

Visit to PKKN to interview 2 staff. En Azman retired before books on The Early Malay Doctors were published.

First website on The Early Malay Doctors

Second website on The Early Malay Doctors

First search for The Early Malay Doctors was in 2002.

Two early contributors who knew about Dr Ungku Omar.

First person to contact the author/researcher about The Early Malay Doctors. She was the granddaughter of the first Malay doctor.

Outline of the biography of Dr Abdul Latiff in the book, Biography of the Early Malay Doctors 1900-1957 Malaya and Singapore (published in 2012 by Xlibris Corp, USA. Printed in the UK.)

Dr Abdul Latiff bin Abdul Razak was the first Malay doctor

STRENGTHS (S) - no slide

OPPORTUNITIES (O) - no slide

Facebook page for Biography of the Early Malay Doctors

On of the many Internet distributors selling my books

Publisher's website

The End