NEA's former director-general of public health Daniel Wang dies at age 71

SINGAPORE - A retired civil servant who played a key role in developing Singapore's public health system died on Tuesday at the age of 71.

Mr Daniel Wang Nan Chee, a former director-general of public health, had also contributed to the cleaning up of the Singapore River from 1977 to 1987, winning an award from former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew for his efforts.

In a statement on Wednesday, the National Environment Agency (NEA) expressed its condolences to his family. An NEA spokesman said: "Mr Wang was a driving force behind developing a highly efficient and effective public health system in Singapore."

For instance, Mr Wang played an instrumental role in the building and management of hawker centres, the privatisation of waste collection services, and the implementation of smoking bans in public areas.

His other notable contributions include the building of the first incineration plant in Singapore - the Ulu Pandan Incineration Plant - and the introduction of mechanical sweeping in the streets in the early 1970s.

Mr Wang had joined the then-Ministry of Environment in 1967 as a pupil engineer and was later promoted to head the engineering services department.

From 1979 to 2004, he served for 25 years as commissioner /director-general of public health. He retired as an NEA consultant in 2005.

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Environment and Water Resources, said: "Daniel Wang was a pioneer of public health in Singapore, and inspired a whole generation of successors. We owe a deep debt of gratitude to people like him who saved many lives in quiet but effective ways."

goyshiyi@sph.com.sg