Dr Siti Hasmah hailed as icon for women

The NUS is immensely proud of her achievements and impact, says president


Singapore • Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali has been honoured as a “global icon to pioneer and inspire women worldwide” by the National University of Singapore (NUS) — the island republic’s flagship university founded in 1905.

NUS president Prof Tan Eng Chye said Dr Siti Hasmah, 92, who graduated from the university’s medical school in 1955, is a living role model for all women in Malaysia and globally.

Tan said, as a young doctor then, Dr Siti Hasmah was already passionate about improving the health and wellbeing of Malaysians, and has remained as a trailblazer by achieving many “firsts” in the government ranks.

“Beyond her impact on public health, Dr Siti Hasmah has also served in numerous leadership positions, championing adult literacy, mental health and drug abuse control,” Tan said at a ceremony to confer the Distinguished Alumni Service Award to Dr Siti Hasmah yesterday.

At the same ceremony, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was also conferred an Honorary Doctor of Laws.

The ceremony was opened by Singapore President Halimah Yacob, who is also NUS chancellor.

“She graduated in 1955, with some coaching in physics and chemistry from a classmate named Mahathir (Mohamad), and returned to Kuala Lumpur to serve her housemanship at the general hospital.

“Dr Siti Hasmah is a pioneer and an inspiring role model for women in Malaysia and around the world.

“NUS is immensely proud of her achievements and impact,” he said, greeted by thunderous applause from over 600 attendees.

Dr Siti Hasmah enrolled at the King Edward VII College of Medicine in Singapore, which is now part of NUS, after World War II.

She was the only Malay female student in her cohort.

Some 10 years after her graduation, she became the first woman in Malaysia to be appointed as a medical officer in the maternal and child health department.

In 1974, she was also the first female doctor to be appointed as the state maternal and child health officer.