October 30, 2020

Rest In Peace Prof Tan Seng Huat

Professor Tan Seng Huat was one of our pioneer anaesthetists and a giant in the field. Besides being the founding leader of Singapore Anaesthesia Society under the Singapore Medical Association, he was also one of the founding members of the Chapter of Anaesthetists, Academy of Medicine, Singapore which was responsible for the specialist accreditation of anaesthesia beginning from 1976. Prof Tan was the Head of Department of Anaesthesia in Outram Road General Hospital from 1971-1989 and he continued to support the anaesthesia fraternity even after his retirement. In 1990, he helped set up the Tan Seng Huat Gold Medal Award which is presented to outstanding candidates in the final Master of Medicine (Anaesthesia). In 2005, he donated a sum of $10,000 to help defray the cost of the 2005 American Society of Anesthesiologists Refresher Course books given free to members of the Singapore Society of Anaesthesiologists. Under his tutelage, many of his junior doctors have gone on to be heads of department in their own rights. His presence will be sorely missed.

Professor Tan departed on 16 October 2020;
he will be dearly missed and fondly remembered by anaesthesiologists in Singapore


Department of Anaesthesia, Outram Road General Hospital. Professor Tan SH (sitting, fifth from left) was department head, 1971-1989 (picture taken from Ann Acad Med Singapore 2007)

Eulogy messages from colleagues and friends

Prof Tan Seng Huat was the first Local Chief Anaesthetist who took over from the British in the early 1970s, a position he held for 17 years. I had my first 6 months Anaesthesia posting during my active national service in SGH back in 1982, and he was my boss who taught me how to use d-tubocurare, suxamethonium, thiopentone, halothane, enflurane, cyclopropane, finger on the pulse, stethoscope attached to the chest, and the other hand holding the reservoir bag. Rest In Peace, Prof Tan Seng Huat.

Assoc Prof Chan Yew WengSenior Consultant, Department of Anaesthesia and Surgical Intensive Care, SGH
Head, Department of Anaesthesia and Surgical Intensive Care, SGH (1994-2001)

Rest in peace, Prof Tan. He did what he could, how he could; best he could to grow our specialty. Rest in Peace, Prof Tan

Assoc Prof Tay Sook MuaySenior Consultant, Department of Anaesthesia and Surgical Intensive Care, SGH
Associate Dean, NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, SGH Campus

Not sure how many of you remember that Prof Tan donated 10k to society to get members the ASA book. I do remember the donation and received a free copy ASA refresher book in 2006 (when shipped in) from Society. 2006 was also the year we hosted the 12th AACA.

Assoc Prof Ong Biauw ChiSenior Consultant, Department of Anaesthesia and Surgical Intensive Care, SGH
Chairman Medical Board, Sengkang General Hospital

Prof Tan was a kind and generous man.

Dr Tham Cheng ShiSenior Consultant, Department of Anaesthesia and Surgical Intensive Care, SGH

He was a very kind & generous boss. He took me out for lunch on my first day as a lowly house-officer in the department, with a medical officer, at the hospital canteen. (I remember this incident very clearly, because at a previous short posting I was left to handle the blood- donors on my 1st day of work during the lunch hour when the boss took all the other Doctors out for lunch as one of them was soon to go overseas for his HMDP fellowship posting!) He always gave priority for leave to firstly, those who were going to take their exams, and secondly, to those who were going on overseas holidays. He was very fair in his rosters and nobody had any complaints of too many weekend night duties. In addition, he booked the tennis courts at the former Alexander Park every Sunday and invited all anaesthetic staff to join him and his friends there. He and his wife always invited all the anaesthetists over to their home for the year- end department dinner.

Dr Susan TohRetired Anaesthetist