A tribute to Mr. Wong Man Kee BBM PBM
Mr. Wong Man Kee, also known as MK to people who knew him, passed away on 27 November 2016.
MK was the first local practicing Psychologist in Singapore in the 1950’s when the practice of Psychology was at its nascent stage.
MK graduated with a bachelor degree in Psychology at Western Reserve University, USA (now known as Case Western Reserve University) and later obtained a post graduate Diploma in Clinical and Educational Psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry, Maudsley Hospital, UK. MK served as the only Psychologist at the then Woodbridge Hospital, now known as Institute of Mental Health for about 10 years before starting his own private practice where he specialised in psychological testing and behaviour therapy. MK when interviewed, described himself in his clinical practice as “Jack of all trades”, as he attended to cases with a whole range of presenting issues and clients of different age ranges. His specialty and interest was in working with children with special needs, specifically in the area of intellectual disability. It was because of this interest that led him to do volunteer work at the Singapore Association for Retarded Children (SARC), now known as MINDS. He served as Vice President at MINDS from 1970 to 1983. He was also one of the founding members of the Association for Educationally Subnormal Children (AESN), which was later renamed Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN). APSN was formed to focus on educating special needs children with higher capabilities. Since the inception of APSN in 1976, MK had served in various capacities as Executive Committee member, chair of Admissions & Review Sub-Committee (A&R), etc. It was in the latter that we came to know MK.
MK was unassuming and gentle in his treatment of others. In all the years of A&R meetings, he was respectful towards the Psychologists and other professionals in the committee. Even when there were differing viewpoints, he would take the time to listen before making his decisions as chair person. Even though he had retired for many years and had not kept abreast with current knowledge in psychological testing, MK was always keen to find out from the Psychologists up-to-date psychological tests. In later years as his eye sight began to fail him, MK would have his wife, Joan, drive him to the A&R meetings.
In recognition of MK’s valuable public service to the people of Singapore, he was decorated with National Day awards twice, first the Public Service Medal (PBM) in 1987 and the Public Service Star (BBM) in 2004.He was also conferred the status of Honorary Life Member by the Asian Federation on Intellectual Disabilities (AFID) in 2003. An honour only shared by six others in the region.
For those who had worked with him, Mr. Wong Man Kee will always be remembered for his kind and gentle spirit.
Hoili C. Lim, & Frederick Low