Cheong Suk-Wai


Milestones in Singapore’s medical scene – among other subjects – are captured through fascinating oral history narratives in a new book written by Cheong Suk-Wai and published by the National Archives of Singapore.  Life is a race against time. That much was clear to midwife Sumitera Mohd Letak after she helped a patient with dangerously high blood pressure who had just given birth. “She was bleeding like hell,” Sumitera recalled. “Her baby was gasping away and I had to suck mucus out of her baby’s mouth… I had to, by hook or by crook, take them to hospital.” Alas, the mother, baby and midwife were on St John’s Island, which is about 6.5 km south of mainland Singapore. What was worse, it was the middle of the night. Sumitera added: “It was low tide, so I had to wake up the whole row of people in the quarters there to…

Oral history is often considered as “little” – personal accounts of humble folk, as opposed to “big” or written history on serious topics. But “little” does not mean negligible or inferior, says Cheong Suk-Wai.