Opposition veteran Dr Wong Wee Nam has passed away on Saturday, 7 September at the age of 72 after years of battling Parkinson’s disease.
There was an outpouring of grief yesterday as news of his passing spread, from fellow opposition politicians to former patients.
The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) said in a Facebook post, “Dr Wong Wee Nam has always been and will always be a voice that stirred the conscience of our people. Even as fear blanketed this island, his bold and clear moral principles shone brightly for many of us.”
Dr Wong grew close to the SDP over the years and almost contested in the 2011 General Elections as an SDP candidate, said the party. He withdrew at the last minute due to family reasons.
“But even though he was not a candidate he was in the thick of our campaign, always a source of strength for his party colleagues,” said the SDP.
Reminiscing his long and storied life, SDP noted that Dr Wong was the a leader of the Old Rafflesians Association, a stalward of the Singapore Medical association, and a highly respected general medical practitioner. He was also an avid writer, having penned a book called “Thoughts from a Gilded Cage”, published in 2018.
The party also notes that Dr Wong’s views influenced many of the party’s policy papers, especially that of healthcare which he helped shape and author.
“His demise saddens all of us at the SDP. We hold his loved ones in our thoughts and prayers as they go through this difficult time.”
SDP Chairman Dr Paul Tambyah said, “A kind doctor, deep thinker, Singaporean patriot and good friend. You will be missed”
The Singapore People’s Party also expressed their condolences, noting that Dr Wong was a friend of the party’s Secretary General Mr Chiam See Tong.
Mr Chiam said, “Thank you for your contributions to opposition politics and speaking out for Singaporeans.”
Secretary-General of Singaporeans First Party Mr Tan Jee Say described Dr Wong as a “great friend and strong supporter”, noting that Dr Wong was the one who persuaded and encouraged him to join the SDP at the beginning of his political career.
Mr Tan wrote, “He provided good advice and guidance along the way, always putting the interests of Singaporeans at the heart of his advice. Thank you, Wee Nam. May you rest in peace. Our condolences go to his family.”
Dr Wong graduated from the University of Singapore in 1972 and became general practitioner after serving National Service, right up to 2016. In 1997, Dr Wong was one of five National Solidarity Party (NSP) members who contested in the Hong Kah GRC, garnering about 31% of the votes.
Apart from his recently published book, Dr Wong was a regular contributor to the Straits Time Forum and wrote several op-ed pieces for TOC.
Also expressing condolences over Dr Wong’s passing was a former patient, Mr Simon Lim who visited Dr Wong’s clinic in Clementi as a teenager in the 1970s.
Mr Lim said, “I remember him as a patience and soft-spoken man and the one thing about him that I remember and will forever be grateful was that although we were a poor family then, every time when my late grandmother was too ill and weak to walk down to his clinic to seek medical attention, he would never turned my mother or myself down whenever we went down to his clinic and requested him to come over to our flat to attend to my late grandmother. He never once turned us down.”
He added, “For those who do not know him, Singapore has lost an outstanding son. He will be deeply and dearly missed by everyone else who knows him.”
Former editor of TOC Mr Ravi Philemon said, “His heart was always in the cause of opposition unity and in providing reasonable opposition to the PAP.”