Celebrating And Honouring The Life And Work Of Dr Alex Tang — Dr Amar-Singh HSS, Dr Lim Swee Im, Assoc Prof Dr Sivakumar Thurairajasingam & Assoc Prof Dr Ngim Chin Fang

“As we bid farewell to Dr Alex Tang, we gather not to mourn the loss of a scholar, but to celebrate a life dedicated to the pursuit of academia and enlightenment” — obit on Dr Alex Tang Tuck Hon, senior consultant paediatrician & assoc prof of paediatrics.

Dr Alex Tang Tuck Hon, a dear friend and colleague, died on May 5, 2024. Dr Tang was a highly accomplished person, a profound thinker, prolific writer, and deeply spiritual man who influenced many lives.

This brief tribute is to celebrate and honour his life and work and share this with many in Malaysia who may not know him.

Dr Alex Tang Tuck Hon, MD (UK Msia), PhD (AGSTA), FRCP (Edin), MRCP (Lond), MRCP (UK), M.Min (Msia), FCCP (USA), AM (Msia), DCH (Glasgow), Cert. Spirituality (USA) was a senior consultant paediatrician. He obtained his basic medical degree from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

After graduation, he worked at the general hospital at Johor Bahru. He did his postgraduate training in Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

He was a senior consultant paediatrician at KPJ Johor Specialist Hospital, Johor Bahru, as well as an Associate Professor of Paediatrics, Clinical School, Monash University Malaysia.

His specialty was in general paediatrics, with a special interest in neonatology, respiratory medicine and biomedical ethics.

Assoc Prof Dr Sivakumar Thurairajasingam, on behalf of Monash University Academics, Clinical School Johor Bahru, has this to say about Dr Tang:

“As we bid farewell to Dr Alex Tang, we gather not to mourn the loss of a scholar, but to celebrate a life dedicated to the pursuit of academia and enlightenment.

“Dr Alex Tang was more than an educator; he was a beacon of wisdom, guiding countless minds through the labyrinth of learning. His passion for medicine was infectious, igniting the flames of curiosity in all who had the privilege of crossing his path. He had enriched the academic landscape, leaving an indelible mark on the minds of his students and colleagues alike.

“Dr Alex Tang was a mentor and a friend to many. He had an extraordinary intellect and empathy that touched the lives of many who crossed his path.

“We remember Dr Alex Tang not only for his scholarly achievements but also the kindness and compassion that defined him. His pursuit for knowledge and his dedication that he had shown towards his patients and everyone, will be remembered fondly.

“Dr Alex Tang’s legacy will forever remain, guiding and inspiring generations of scholars yet to come. Farewell, dear friend, and thank you.”

Assoc Prof Dr Ngim Chin Fang, children’s health coordinator, Monash University Malaysia has this to say about Dr Tang: 

“When Monash University first started our medical programme in Malaysia, Dr Tang was one of the pioneer educators roped in to teach paediatrics to the medical students.

“With his vast experience and gentle demeanour, he has contributed immensely to teaching medical students for more than a decade before he retired from his role as an associate professor in early 2022.

“I still recall how students enjoyed his classes, especially the quizzes and the Facebook groups he set up for post-class discussions. He kept students engaged, and I am amazed at how much he knew about technological advances and harnessing the power of the internet to improve their learning way back when many of us still depended on traditional methods.

“Dr Tang set a high standard for his medical students and motivated them to be better; after two months of hard work under his mentorship, he used to reward each group with a hearty feast. I still recall the big lobster I had when I joined one of these ‘makans’ at an Italian restaurant. 

“Dr Tang was generous in sharing his knowledge, wisdom and expertise with both students and colleagues. I have personally benefited from his advice on embracing life and moving forward with gratitude and optimism.

“He has indeed left an indelible mark on the medical students in Monash University Malaysia which will continue to guide them to be a better doctor and a kinder person.”

Dr Tang was also highly trained in theology and a spiritual trainer, teaching practical theology. He was an adjunct lecturer at Seminari Theoloji Malaysia (STM), and was on the faculty at Asia Graduate School of Theology Alliance (AGST Alliance) and East Asia School of Theology (EAST) in Singapore.

He was a research fellow with the Centre for Disability Ministry of Asia (CDMA) and Biblical Graduate School of Theology (BGST), Singapore. He was also an elder at the Holy Light Church (English), a Presbyterian church in Johor Bahru.

His keen interests were in theology, philosophy, spiritual formation, Christian spirituality and biomedical ethics. He started the Kairos Spiritual Formation Ministries in 1998 as a vehicle to learn and teach about spiritual formation.

He was a prolific writer, contributing numerous articles to magazines, many resources on medicine (see Medical References and Notes) and written a number of books, including Random Musings from a Doctor’s Chair: A Christian Doctor Reflects on Life and All That Stuff, A Good Day to Die: A Christian Perspective on Mercy Killing, Live and Let Live: A Christian Perspective on Biotechnology, Spiritual Formation on the Run, Tales from the Monastery: Spiritual Formation the Asian Way, Till We Are Fully Formed, A People Apart, and A Year of Viral Musings, to name a few.

A list of some of his many publications can be found on his website. He also started the Spiritual Formation Institute at the Holy Light Church in Johor Bahru.

Dr Lim Swee Im has this to say about Dr Tang:

“Both Amar and I first met Alex in 2006. We spent about 10 days together with a total of 12 persons (including us three) at a very private spiritual retreat in Melaka with an internationally renowned spiritual director, Thomas H. Greene. Since then, we have remained good friends.

“I remember him as a quiet person, quick to listen but slower to answer because he thinks deeply first before choosing to provide answers to serious questions. Wise and mature beyond his years, he has proven to be a very generous man, both in kind as well as with his time and talents.

“He is gracious towards people and shows gratitude for all that life has provided for him. Have not heard him to be bitter or critical about people, only critical and analytical in thinking through issues.

“Despite his multitude of accomplishments, he has remained deeply humble, is not intrusive or presumptive as a friend.

“My only regret is not having made enough effort to spend more time with him.”

Dr Tang was active in practical work in the community. He was an active member of the Rotary Club of Johor Bahru and the Rotary Club of Tebrau. He was a chartered member of the Rotary Club of Puteri Lagoon.

In the Rotary Club of Tebrau he started the Rotary Club of Tebrau Heart Fund to sponsor children with congenital heart diseases for corrective surgery in the Madras Medical Mission in India and developed the Calvary Autistic Centre project for Autistic children in Johor Bahru.

Of note is that he was a science fiction and Star Trek fan and a serious Trekkie. He also enjoyed comics and photography, and wrote about fictional characters, e.g. Why Batman Does Not Kill (Not Even the Joker).

Dr Khiam Yan Goh has this to say about Dr Tang:

“Many inspirational things will be said and written about Alex since his sudden departure last week and deservedly so. As we all know, he was many things when he was with us … father, grandpa, friend, mentor, doctor, teacher, writer, and spiritual leader. He was also a proud self-declared geek who found wonder in stories old and new.

“I like to think that among the first people he sought out last week would be Gene Roddenberry and Leonard Nimoy, with whom he so often explored the universe and the human spirit.

“Souls are meant to soar, and few flew higher than our friend Alex.”

We remember and celebrate Dr Tang with much fondness. He impacted all our lives with his deep personhood and insights. We will miss him but know that he lives on in our hearts.

We wish his wife and family much peace at this time. Alex Tang’s life was well and richly lived, and we know his death is not the end.

Dr Amar-Singh HSS is a consultant paediatrician, Dr Lim Swee Im is a retired medical practitioner, Assoc Prof Dr Sivakumar Thurairajasingam is the Head of Clinical School Johor Bahru, Monash University Malaysia, and Assoc Prof Dr Ngim Chin Fang is children’s health coordinator, Monash University Malaysia.

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