Tireless sinseh and respected TCM trainer

SINGAPORE - Instead of slowing down in his golden years, renowned Chinese physician Yeo Siong Lian tended to some 50,000 patients over the last 20 years of his life at a humble clinic in Hong Lim Complex.

The 94-year-old died in his Toa Payoh flat in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.

He is survived by nine children and 13 grandchildren.

Mr Yeo had worked and volunteered tirelessly as a physician until his health started failing at age 90.

A deeply respected figure in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) circles, his death led to many of his former students and patients tearing at his wake in Toa Payoh.

"Most TCM physicians would know who he was; he was very principled and experienced," said Mr Lee Bock Guan, president of the Singapore Buddhist Lodge.

"He treated his older patients like his parents and the younger ones like his children," Mr Lee added.

Mr Yeo often waived consultation fees so that those in need could use the money to buy medicine.

The devout Buddhist was a consultant at the Buddhist Lodge, where he volunteered to train younger physicians for more than 20 years.

He was a believer in passing on medical know-ledge.

At the Chung Hwa Free Clinic where he volunteered since the 1970s, he would see fewer patients so that he could make time to train young physicians.

In the 1980s, he was principal of the Singapore Chinese Physicians' Training College.

Born in Fujian in China, he was trained by his physician-father.

He came to Singapore after World War II in the late 1940s but later moved to Indonesia, where he saw patients in his shophouse.

"He would wake up at 6am to prepare the herbs and would not turn away patients, even when they came knocking on our doors at midnight," said one of his sons, Mr Yeo Yew Yong, 52, a teacher.

The family moved back to Singapore in the early 1970s, after the shophouse was razed during racial riots.

His hectic lifestyle continued through the years. After a long day at work, he would do voluntary work in the evenings, and returned home to read up on the latest TCM developments.

He contributed research articles regularly to local and overseas TCM organisations.

"Lifelong devotion to the field characterised his life. We couldn't persuade him to retire and he kept on learning, even picking up English so that he could tend to his patients who spoke English," said Mr Yeo Yew Yong.

Mr Yeo Siong Lian was cremated on Saturday at Mandai Crematorium.

jantai@sph.com.sg


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