King Edward VII College of Medicine

The King Edward VII College of Medicine was established in 1905 as the Straits and Federated Malay States Government Medical School. It was renamed King Edward VII Medical School in 1912, and then King Edward VII College of Medicine in 1921.1 In 1982, the College of Medicine became the Faculty of Medicine, part of what is now the National University of Singapore.2 In 2005, it renamed again as Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.3 The College of Medicine Building, built in 1926 and located within the grounds of the Singapore General Hospital, was gazetted as a national monument in 2002.4

Beginnings
Medical services in the Straits Settlements during the early 19th century catered mainly to British officials and military men, European merchants and seamen, sepoys and the local police. The local populace tended to seek medical assistance from practitioners of traditional medicine. With the growth of the Straits Settlements, there was a need to expand medical services for the locals. In 1889, the principal civil medical officer, Max Simon, attempted to establish a medical school to train qualified practitioners, but there were insufficient suitable candidates.5


In September 1904, businessman and philanthropist Tan Jiak Kim petitioned the colonial government for the establishment of a medical school.6 The government agreed to the petition on the condition that the Chinese community raised a minimum of $71,000 to fund the school.7 The Chinese and non-European communities responded with enthusiasm, raising over $87,000 for the school, with Tan contributing $12,000.8 On 28 September 1905, the Straits and Federated Malay States Government Medical School was officially opened by Governor John Anderson in the buildings of the former Female Lunatic Asylum at Sepoy Lines.9

New buildings and names
In 1911, rubber tycoon Tan Chay Yan donated $15,000 to the medical school for the creation of the Tan Teck Guan Building in memory of his father, after whom the building was named.10 In November 1912, the school received a donation of almost $125,000 from the King Edward VII Memorial Fund and was hence renamed King Edward VII Medical School.11


In 1921, the school was renamed again – as King Edward VII College of Medicine.12 A new building was planned and the foundation stone was laid on 6 September 1923.13 On 15 February 1926, Governor Laurence Guillemard officially opened the College of Medicine Building.14 The College of Medicine and Tan Teck Guan Building together served as the main tertiary institution of medical education in Singapore for a number of decades.15

Japanese Occupation of Singapore (1942–45)
In January 1942, the Japanese began bombing Singapore intensively.16 The college building became the island centre for blood transfusions services under the direction of the college principal, G. V. Allen. In view of the circumstances, the college authorities brought forward the final-year examinations, holding them in January instead of March that year.17


On 14 February, Tan Tock Seng Hospital was bombed, killing medical student Yoong Tat Sin. A group of 25 medical students attempted to bury him later that day at a site near the college building, but intense shelling in the area killed 10 members of the burial party and damaged the biology and physiology laboratories.18

Following the surrender of Singapore to the Japanese on 15 February 1942, the College of Medicine ceased to function.19 Instead, the Japanese Military Administration established the Marei Ika Daigaku (Syonan Medical College) at the Tan Tock Seng Hospital in April 1943.20 In February 1944, the Japanese moved the medical college to Malacca, where it remained until the end of the occupation in 1945.21 

The College of Medicine Building was taken over by the Japanese Army Medical Corps for its department of bacteriology and seriology.22 After the end of the Japanese Occupation in September 1945, the building was returned to the college authorities on 1 April 1946 and classes resumed in June 1946.23

Postwar developments
In 1949, the College of Medicine and Raffles College merged to become the University of Malaya, and the medical school became the Faculty of Medicine.24 The university subsequently split in 1959 to form the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, and the University of Malaya in Singapore.25 The Faculty of Medicine remained part of the university in Singapore, which became known as the University of Singapore in 1962, and then as the National University of Singapore in 1980 after merging with Nanyang University.26 Together with the university, the Faculty of Medicine relocated to Kent Ridge in May 1982.27


Recent developments
The National University of Singapore Faculty of Medicine was renamed Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine in 2005, following a S$100-million donation from the Yong Loo Lin Trust.28 In 2008, the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, along with university’s Faculty of Dentistry and the National University Hospital, formed the National University Health System – an academic health system that pools resources and combines disciplines to improve the health of Singapore.29


Alumni
The distinguished alumni of the College of Medicine include Chen Su Lan, the top student of the first batch of qualified medical practitioners who received their graduation diplomas in May 1910; Benjamin Sheares, a trained gynecologist who later became the second president of Singapore; and Mahathir Mohamed, former prime minister of Malaysia.30


College of Medicine Building
Restoration and refurbishment of the College of Medicine Building began in November 1985, and were completed in April 1987 at a cost of S$14.4 million. In 1987, the Academy of Medicine took up a 10-year lease at the building, but relocated to its own premises in the Runme Shaw Building on Neil Road in October 2001.31 On 2 December 2002, the College of Medicine Building was gazetted as a national monument.32


Located at 16 College Road, within the grounds of the Singapore General Hospital, the College of Medicine Building was designed by architects P. H. Keys and H. F. Dowdeswell.33 The distinctive building facade resembles a classical Greek building, with a colonnade of 12 Doric columns, 11 large sculptured timber doors, and allegorical bas-relief sculptures depicting the teaching and practice of medicine. Above the central doorway is a Roman eagle crowned with a wreath, a classical symbol that signifies a civil or official building.34 The sculptures were designed by renowned Italian sculptor Cavalieri Rudolfo Nolli, who also worked on the Former Supreme Court and Fullerton building, and executed by J. Sharpe Elliott.35

The building now includes facilities such as a 300-seat auditorium, medical library, exhibition hall and lecture rooms. The original coffered ceiling of the auditorium, burnt in a past fire and discovered under two false ceilings, was reinstated during restoration works in the 1980s. A grand central staircase that had been part of the original building plans but omitted during the original construction process was also added to the building.36

The building now houses the Ministry of Health, the Singapore Medical Council and the College of Family Physicians (formerly known as the College of General Practitioners).37

Timeline
28 September 1905: Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States Government Medical School established.
18 November 1913: Medical school renamed King Edward VII Medical School.38
1921: School is renamed King Edward VII College of Medicine.
22 July 1929: Raffles College established.39
8 October 1949: King Edward VII College of Medicine merged with Raffles College to become University of Malaya; King Edward VII College of Medicine becomes known as the Faculty of Medicine of the University.40
1 January 1962: University of Malaya separated into two autonomous universities: University of Singapore and University of Malaya. The Faculty of Medicine of the former University of Malaya becomes part of the University of Singapore.41
8 August 1980: University of Singapore merged with Nanyang University to form the National University of Singapore; and the Faculty of Medicine of the former University of Singapore becomes part of the National University of Singapore.42
July 2005: The Faculty of Medicine of the National University of Singapore renamed Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.43



Author

Joanna HS Tan



References
1. “Our History,” National University of Singapore, accessed 8 June 2017.
2. J. S. Cheah, “Approaching 100 Years of Medical and University Education in Singapore,” Singapore Medical Journal, 44, no. 1 (2003): 3.
3. National University of Singapore, “Our History.”
4. Genette Koh, “Three Historic Buildings Picked for Preservation,” Straits Times, 6 December 2002, 13. (From NewspaperSG)
5. Lee Yong Kiat, ed., History of College of Medicine Building, Medical Education & Medical Services in Singapore 1819–1990 (Singapore: Annals, Academy of Medicine, 1992), 1–2, 4. (Call no. RSING 610.7115957 HIS)
6. National University of Singapore, “Our History.”
7. “Government Medical School for Malaya,” (1905, September 29). Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), 29 September 1905, 3. (From NewspaperSG); Song Ong Siang, One Hundred Years’ History of the Chinese in Singapore (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1984), 366. (Call no. RSING 959.57 SON-[HIS))
8. “Government Medical School for Malaya”; E. S. Teo, “History of the College of Medicine and Tan Teck Guan Buildings,” Annals Academy of Medicine, 34, no. 6 (July 2005): 61C.
9. “Government Medical School for Malaya”; Song, One Hundred Years’ History, 367; Lee, History of College of Medicine Building, 5.
10. Teo, “History of the College of Medicine,” 61C.
11. “King Edward Memorial Fund,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), 28 November 1912, 346. (From NewspaperSG); Song, One Hundred Years’ History, 455.
12. Cheah, “Approaching 100 Years of Medical and University Education,” 3.
13. “
New Medical College,” Malaya Tribune, 7 September 1923, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
14. “New Medical College,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), 16 February 1926, 9, 16. (From NewspaperSG)
15. Teo, “History of the College of Medicine and Tan Teck Guan Buildings,” 61C.
16. Lee, History of College of Medicine Building, 14.
17. Abdul Wahab, Medical Students during the Japanese Invasion of Singapore, 1941–1942, ed. Cheah Jin Seng (Singapore: Academy of Medicine, 1987), 32, 38, 49. (Call no. RSING 959.57022 ABD-[HIS])
18. Wahab, Medical Students during the Japanese Invasion, 55, 91–94, 102.
19. Lee, History of College of Medicine Building, 15.
20. Cheah, “Approaching 100 Years of Medical and University Education,” 3; Lee, History of College of Medicine Building, 15.
21. Teo, “History of the College of Medicine and Tan Teck Guan Buildings,” 67C.
22. Lee, History of College of Medicine Building, 15.
23. “200 Medical Students Return Today,” (1946, June 20). Straits Times, 20 June 1946, 5. (From NewspaperSG); Cheah, “Approaching 100 Years of Medical and University Education,” 3.
24. National University of Singapore, “Our History”; Lee, History of College of Medicine Building, 17.
25. “Our History,” Universiti Malaya, accessed 2 May 2017.
26. Edwin Lee and Tan Tai Yong, Beyond Degrees: The Making of the National University of Singapore (Singapore: Singapore University Press, 1996), 187. (Call no. RSING 378.5957 LEE)
27. “Move from Sepoy Lines to Kent Ridge Begins,” Straits Times, 12 July 1982, 11. (From NewspaperSG)
28. “Yong Loo Lin Trust Donates $100M to NUS Faculty,” Business Times, 7 April 2005, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
29. Tan Hui Leng, “Body Formed to Oversee NUH, NUS Faculties,” Today, 26 February 2008, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
30. K. Mulliner and Lian The-Mulliner, Historical Dictionary of Singapore (N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1991), 134. (Call no. RSING 959.57003 MUL-[HIS]); Ng Beng Yeong, Till the Break of Day: A History of Mental Health in Singapore 1841—1993 (Singapore: Singapore University Press, 2001), 21. (Call no. RSING 362.2095957 NG)
31. Teo, “History of the College of Medicine and Tan Teck Guan Buildings,” 70C.
32. Genette Koh, “Three Historic Buildings Picked for Preservation,” Straits Times, 6 December 2002, 13. (From NewspaperSG)
33. Koh, “Three Historic Buildings Picked for Preservation.” 34. Teo, “History of the College of Medicine and Tan Teck Guan Buildings,” 65C.
35. “College of Medicine Building,” National Heritage Board, accessed 2 May 2017.
36. Teo, “History of the College of Medicine and Tan Teck Guan Buildings,” 70C.
37. Teo, “History of the College of Medicine and Tan Teck Guan Buildings,” 70C; Lee, History of College of Medicine Building, 31.
38. Lee, History of College of Medicine Building, 7.
39. Lee and Tan, Beyond Degrees, 51.
40. National University of Singapore, “Our History.”
41. National University of Singapore, “Our History”; Lee, History of College of Medicine Building, 17.
42. National University of Singapore, “Our History.”
43. National University of Singapore, “Our History.”



Further resources
“Government Gazette, 9th May,” Straits Times Weekly Issue, 14 May 1890, 6. (From NewspaperSG)

Lee Yong Kiat, The Medical History of Early Singapore (Tokyo: Southeast Asian Medical Information Center, 1978). (Call no. RSING 610.95957 LEE)

Legislative Council,” Straits Times, 15 April 1905, 5. (From NewspaperSG)

Lim Kuang Hui, 75 Years of Our Alumni, at the Dawn of the Millennium (Singapore: Singapore University Press, 2000), 264–66. (Call no. RSING q610.7115951)

Magdalene Lum, “New Glow for Grand Dame of Health,” Straits Times, 13 August 1987, 1. (From NewspaperSG)

Memorandum as to the Foundation of a Medical School for the Straits Settlements in Singapore,” Straits Times, 10 October 1889, 5. (From NewspaperSG)

Report on Straits and F. Government Medical School,” Straits Times, 5 May 1906, 2. (From NewspaperSG)

The Medical School – Opening of Tan Teck Guan Building,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), 26 June 1911, 10. (From NewspaperSG)



The information in this article is valid as at 2005 and correct as far as we are able to 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
Public health
Medical colleges--Singapore
Health and medicine>>Health services
Politics and Government>>Health
Schools (Buildings)
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Educational Buildings