Pioneer ex-matron led 'war on dirt' in army

Veteran nurse Ti Sui Tsu gave an account of how hard nurses work, during an industrial arbitration court hearing on nurses' wages, this week in 1965.

Ms Ti testified that nurses on regular duty, as well as those on call, had to work for a stretch of 24 hours five times in six weeks, and for a stretch of 28 hours once in six weeks.

Ms Ti, who was matron of the General Hospital, was a pioneer nurse. She was in the first batch of six local nurses who were promoted to nursing sisters at hospitals here in 1951.

From taking care of patients, she went on to take care of the living environment of national servicemen, as a housekeeper with the Singapore Armed Forces.

In 1974, Ms Ti and another former matron, Mrs M.A. Pennefather, were in the news for leading the army in a "war" against dirt in military camps.

Ms Ti said that the soldiers thought that the two ex-matrons were coming for a walk around the camps, to look at the grass, drink a cup of tea, and then leave.

"I looked in the drains, under the beds, behind the cupboards, and in every other place that dust or dirt could gather," she said.

She added: "Many of our young men in Singapore are spoilt, with servants and parents to do everything for them. We want to teach them how to take care of themselves and keep their environment clean."

Ms Ti died in the late 1980s. Her age was not known.

A memorial fund named after her was later set up to sponsor bursaries for nursing students.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 13, 2015, with the headline 'Pioneer ex-matron led 'war on dirt' in army'. Print Edition | Subscribe