Gong Gong says

This is a posthumous blog of our father's (Lim Kok Ann) life. When our father passed away on 8 March 2003, he left behind an unpublished autobiography. We'd like to celebrate his life by sharing his autobiography through this blog.

"I have dredged these anecdotes from memory just to pass the time; if they amuse my grandchildren their purpose will have been served; if they provide any instruction, it will be a happy coincidence; that they are disjointed is probably to be expected.

Aurora was the name of my grandfather’s house in Kulangsu.   Amoy, where I spent the first five or six years of my life.   I still have vivid memories of events that took place when I was barely three years old.

Lim Kok Ann
October 1996"

Friday, August 01, 2008

2:4 The Students’ Union.

When I became a real medical student, studying dissection in the Medical Faculty located in what was known as the Old College, I also became a member of the Students’ Union, adjacent to Old College. That was my undoing. The Students’ Union was a club with cafeteria and restaurant (uniformed waitresses!), and equipped with a bar and a billiard-room with four tables, not to mention a library and a barber. I had worked very hard in my first year at the University, but in later years gradually slacked off in my studies. The truth was that I had run out of steam, and there were distractions such as billiards and bridge that were more interesting than books. It this regard, a saying goes, “a skill at billiards is the sign of a miss-spent youth.”

A good companion of mine in the Union was Lee Ee Ngee a Singapore student. EN was some years my senior and was said to have been a capable student but after he had passed his first year in medicine he had a motor-cycle accident that laid him up for more than six months and when he returned to his studies he just did not have the energy to hack it. Moreover, the war came then and EN had to work for his living so he became a potato-inspector. Potatoes are propagated by planting bits of the tuber that have “eyes” and not from seeds of the flowering plant. The “vegetative” mode of reproduction preserves the desirable characteristics of the “seed-potato” which was worth much more than the “table-potato”. Scottish farms specialised in growing seed-potatoes propagated by the same method, but because some of the potato plants that sprang-up might be aberrant types (rogues), the farmer had to root them out before they produce tubers and degrade his stock. The potato-inspector surveyed the potato fields when the plants are fully grown and certifies that rogues are not significantly present.

EN earned enough from this work to keep himself at the university, but he never completed his course. One day we learned that EBJ, Senior Lecturer in Anatomy, had sent for EN because he had failed again. EN returned to the Union waving a hammer and reported that EBJ had told him, “Lee, nail your scrotum to your chair if you want to pass the exam.” EN was so long a member of the Students’ Union that they made him a Honorary Life-Member and his portrait may still be seen there.

I had enough sense to keep up with my work until I had passed my Medical Second Year, the First Professional Examinations, comprising Anatomy and Physiology and at the same time complete my Science second year, namely Anatomy 1 and Physiology 1 (both 60% + in the medical course), and Chemistry 2, and my Science third year, Anatomy 2 and Physiology 2 (both 60°/o ±the medical course) plus Embryology and Anthropology. Having complete the requirements for ordinary degree of Bachelor of Science, I was given the option of being conferred the Ordinary Degree or waiting till I had completed my Honours and being conferred the Degree with Honours. The rule was that one was conferred the degree once only, with or without Honours, and having received the Ordinary Degree, one is only mentioned in the lists when completing the Honours requirements. For me there was no question, “Bird in hand, better than two in bush”. I was capped B.Sc. in 1944.


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