Hours after two Progress Singapore Party (PSP) politicians had publically speculated on the mainstream media’s silence regarding Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chairman Paul Tambyah’s new role as the President-Elect of the International Society of Infectious Diseases (ISID), The Straits Times had finally published a report regarding Dr Tambyah’s achievement.
The report was published on the ST website on Wednesday evening (17 June).
The mainstream media platform quoted Dr Tambyah as saying regarding his new position at ISID: “This is a critical time for infectious diseases globally. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought home the fact that viruses do not respect international boundaries. No one is safe anywhere until everyone is safe everywhere.”
“Singapore academics, clinicians and public health professionals have much to contribute to societies such as ISID to help make the world a healthier place for everyone,” Dr Tambyah added.
ST noted in its report that Dr Tambyah is the chairman of SDP.
An article on Dr Tambyah’s new role also appeared in ST’s print edition today (18 June). However, it was discreetly placed at the bottom of Page B4 under the “Home” section.
SDP in a Facebook post on Monday (15 June) disclosed that Dr Tambyah has been elected as the Boston-based Society’s current President-Elect.
The role of the President-Elect entails supporting the president and assuming the role of the president when required. Being on track for the role of the President, Dr Tambyah will be learning the means of operations for the society, and may also chair some committees at the discretion of the president, according to ISID.
“Who say opposition has no talent? We have far more talent outside the government than inside it. More importantly there is diversity as well,” said PSP assistant secretary-general Leong Mun Wai in a Facebook post on Tuesday (16 June).
Mr Leong questioned if Dr Tambyah’s status as an opposition politician in Singapore is behind the absence of mainstream media reports on the infectious disease expert’s new feat.
“I thought especially with Covid 19, all the talents we have on infectious diseases should be accorded special attention,” he added.
PSP member Brad Bowyer in another Facebook post on Tuesday said that Singapore needs “need more recognition of our national talents on the International stage”.
He added that such talents should be roped into efforts to tackle “a national emergency” when it is proved that their “domain knowledge” fits the bill.
Members of the public have also previously questioned why Dr Tambyah was not included in Singapore’s taskforce for COVID-19, given his internationally-acclaimed expertise as an infectious disease specialist.
Dr Paul Tambyah “well-known to all in the field of infectious diseases”, has “formidable experience across the spectrum of infection”: ISID immediate past president
Dr Tambyah is set to commence his term as President of ISID in 2022.
Currently, Imperial College London infectious disease professor Alison Holmes serves as president of ISID.
Dr Holmes is also a Fellow of the United Kingdom’s Academy of Medical Sciences and a National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Senior Investigator.
Marc Mendelson, the immediate past president of ISID, said that Dr Tambyah is “is well-known to all in the field of infectious diseases, and brings a wealth of experience from his time with multiple international societies and august bodies, as well as formidable experience across the spectrum of infection, including outbreaks, tropical medicine, and clinical applied research”.
“He is a go-to speaker on so many topics and currently serves as Chair of the ISID Publications Committee, playing a vital role in the success of our journal IJID [International Journal of Infectious Diseases],” added Dr Mendelson, who is a professor of Infectious Diseases and spearheads the Division of Infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine at Groote Schuur Hospital at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.
Dr Tambyah also currently serves as a professor of Medicine at the National University of Singapore and Senior Consultant Infectious Diseases Physician at the National University Hospital.
He is also the immediate past president of the Singapore Society of Infectious Diseases and Secretary-General of the Asia Pacific Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infection.
Among ISID’s notable feats include launching the Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases (PROMED) in 1994.
PROMED is an online service designed to identify unusual health events related to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and toxins affecting humans, animals and plants, according to ISID.
The service is used daily by international public health leaders, government officials at all levels, physicians, veterinarians and other healthcare workers, researchers, private companies, journalists and the general public.