Dr Kwa Soon Bee to retire after 40 years in civil service

Dr Kwa Soon Bee (in front) attending the opening of the new Singapore General Hospital in 1981, with then-PM Lee Kuan Yew (centre) and Mr Goh Chok Tong, who was the Minister of Health at that time.
Dr Kwa Soon Bee (in front) attending the opening of the new Singapore General Hospital in 1981, with then-PM Lee Kuan Yew (centre) and Mr Goh Chok Tong, who was the Minister of Health at that time.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Dr Kwa Soon Bee, Permanent Secretary for Health and the Director of Medical Services, will retire from the civil service on Thursday after 40 years of service.

Mr Koh Yong Guan, 49, who was appointed Second Permanent Secretary for Health in June, will succeed him as the Permanent Secretary for Health with effect from Friday.

He will continue concurrently as the Commissioner of Inland Revenue and the Chief Executive Officer of the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras). Dr Chen Ai Ju, presently the deputy director of Medical Services (Hospitals), will take over from Dr Kwa as Director of Medical Services.

These moves were announced in separate press statements by the Public Service Division of the Prime Minister's Office and the Health Ministry yesterday.

Dr Kwa, 65, has had a long and distinguished career in the medical services here. He joined the civil service as a medical officer in 1956 after graduating with an MBBS degree from the University of Malaya.

In his 28 years of medical service, he has served as the Medical Director of Kandang Kerbau Hospital, the Medical Officer in charge and Senior Haematologist in the Blood Transfusion Services and the Medical Director of the Singapore General Hospital from 1972 to 1984.

He was appointed Permanent Secretary for Health and Director of Medical Services in 1984 and was absorbed into the Administrative Service in 1985.

His successor, Mr Koh, a Colombo Plan scholar, joined the Health Ministry in 1972 after graduating with a Masters of Applied Science in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering from the University of Toronto.

In 1979, he was absorbed into the Administrative Service and has served in the Ministries of Finance, Education and Defence. In 1989, he was appointed Second Permanent Secretary in Mindef and became Commissioner of Inland Revenue in 1991.

Dr Chen has served in key areas in the Health Ministry including hospital services, primary health and research and evaluation.

She is chairman of the board of directors of the National Skin Centre and the Ang Mo Kio Community Hospital, and is a member of the board of directors of SGH. She will be appointed a member of the board of directors of the Health Corporation of Singapore and the National University Hospital.