Chao Tzee Cheng



Professor Chao Tzee Cheng (b. 22 September 1934,1 Hong Kong – d. 21 February 2000, New York2) was a renowned forensic pathologist who raised Singapore’s level of professionalism in this area. Internationally recognised for his skills in forensic pathology and locally respected for solving notorious crimes, Professor Chao was also well regarded because of his humour and humility.

Early life
Of Cantonese origin, Chao’s family migrated from Hong Kong to Singapore in the late 1930s. His early education was at Catholic High School and Victoria Continuation School.3 He turned down a scholarship to study engineering in the United States to study medicine at the University of Hong Kong instead. Graduating in 1961, Chao returned to Singapore to serve as a Medical Officer. However, a car accident in West Malaysia left him with a weakened right arm and dashed his hopes of a career in surgery.4 Unfazed, Chao turned to a career in pathology in which he had since excelled.


Career
By 1968, Chao had qualified as a pathologist, obtaining his specialised skills from the Royal London Hospital, Medical College (the college now is under the Queen Mary’s, University of London). He was appointed the forensic pathologist at the Department of Pathology in the Ministry of Health upon his return from London.5

Almost immediately upon his return to Singapore, Chao was involved in his first case as a pathologist. He was invited to be an expert witness in the infamous murder case of Koh Liang Chuen in 1969. The notoriety of this case raised Professor Chao’s standing as a forensic expert in the region. His forensic expertise and duties extended beyond Singapore to countries like Malaysia, Hong Kong and even certain states of West Africa. Despite the political sensitivities of several cases, Chao remained objective and presented the facts as they are.6

In his lifetime, Chao performed over 25,000 autopsies and was the authoritative expert witness in many unsolved murder cases worldwide. He was nicknamed the “Justice of Murder” by his associates for his ability to solve unsolved murder cases.7

Chao died while visiting his sister in New York on the 21 February 2000.8 In his memory, the National University set up the Chao Tzee Cheng Professorship in Pathology and Forensic Science.9

Awards
1975
: Public Administration Medal (Silver)10

1979: Public Administration Medal (Gold)11
1995: Meritorious Service  Medal, particularly for his work on the Flor Contemplacion case.12

Publications
Chao, T. C. (1986). How to prevent home accidents. Singapore: Federal Publications.
(Call no.: RSING 614.853 CHA)


Chao, T. C., & Pereira, A. (1990). Murder is my business: Medical investigations into crime. Singapore : Landmark Books.
(Call no.: RSING 364.152095957 CHA)

Chao, T. C. (1997). Preventing home injuries. Singapore: Federal Publications.
(Call no.: RSING 363.137 CHA)

Chao, T. C. (Ed.). (1978). Workmen's compensation: The principles, practice and problems: Proceedings of Third Seminar on Legal Medicine 1977 organised by Medico-Legal Society, Singapore. Singapore: Medical Book Center.
(Call no.: RSING 614.19 SEM)

Lee, S. K., & Chao, T. C. (1973). (Eds.). Drug misuse in Singapore: Papers presented at the Fifth National Medical Convention in March 1973. Singapore: Singapore Medical Association.
Available via PublicationSG



Author
Kitty But



References
1. Vijayendran, G. (2000, June). Dead men do tell tales: The forensic medical investigations of the unforgettable Professor Chao Tzee Chang. Law Gazette. Retrieved April 28, 2016, from Law Gazette website: http://v1.lawgazette.com.sg/2000-6/
2. Ponnampalam, L. (2000, February 23). Joker, eater, singer…. The New Paper, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Low, K. C., & Dunlop. P. K. G. (Eds.). (2000). Who’s who in Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, pp. 23–24. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO)
4. Chee, Y. C. (1998, May). Citation of 1998 SMA honorary membership, Prof Chao Tzee Cheng. Singapore Medical Association, 30(5). Retrieved 2016, April 28, from Singapore Medical Association website: https://www.sma.org.sg/UploadedImg/files/Citations/Citation_%20CTC.pdf
5. Suryadinata, L. (Ed.). (2012). Southeast Asian personalities of Chinese descent: A biographical dictionary. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, p. 84. (Call no.: RSING 959.004951 SOU)
6. Suryadinata, L. (Ed.). (2012). Southeast Asian personalities of Chinese descent: A biographical dictionary. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, p. 84. (Call no.: RSING 959.004951 SOU)
7. Suryadinata, L. (Ed.). (2012). Southeast Asian personalities of Chinese descent: A biographical dictionary. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, p. 84. (Call no.: RSING 959.004951 SOU)
8. Suryadinata, L. (Ed.). (2012). Southeast Asian personalities of Chinese descent: A biographical dictionary. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, p. 84. (Call no.: RSING 959.004951 SOU)
9. Chia, L. (2000, June). The Chao Tzee Cheng Professorship in Pathology & Forensic Science. SMA News, 32(6), p. 11. Retrieved June 21, 2016 from Singapore Medical Association website: http://www.sma.org.sg/sma_news/3206/chao.pdf
10 Vijayendran, G. (2000, June). Dead men do tell tales: The forensic medical investigations of the unforgettable Professor Chao Tzee Chang. Law Gazette. Retrieved April 28, 2016, from Law Gazette website: http://v1.lawgazette.com.sg/2000-6/
11. Recipients come from all walks of life. (1979, August 9). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. 220 people get N-Day awards from President. (1995, November 4). The Straits Times. p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Health and medicine>>Medical science
Forensic pathologists--Singapore--Biography
Personalities>>Biographies>>Community Leaders
Chao, Tzee Cheng, 1934-2000
Community leaders