Opposition veteran Wong Wee Nam dies at age 72 after battling Parkinson's disease

Dr Wong Wee Nam was a prominent advocate and observer of Singapore's opposition politics.
Dr Wong Wee Nam was a prominent advocate and observer of Singapore's opposition politics.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Opposition veteran Wong Wee Nam, who contested the 1997 General Election, died on Saturday (Sept 7) after battling Parkinson's disease for several years.

He was 72.

Dr Wong was a prominent advocate and observer of Singapore's opposition politics, with close ties to the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).

He, however, contested the 1997 election under the National Solidarity Party (NSP) banner.

Among those who paid tribute to the retired general practitioner are the SDP and its chairman Paul Tambyah, Singapore First Party secretary-general Tan Jee Say and former patients. 

The SDP said on its Facebook page that Dr Wong was a mentor to many of its younger members, disclosing that he nearly stood as an SDP candidate in the 2011 General Election, but withdrew at the last minute for familial reasons.

"Even though he was not a candidate, he was in the thick of our campaign, always a source of strength for his party colleagues," the party said.

In 1997, Dr Wong was part of a five-man NSP team that went up against the People's Action Party in Hong Kah GRC, and garnered 31 per cent of votes.

The SDP said his views influenced many of the ideas in the party's policy papers, especially on healthcare.

On his Facebook page, Dr Tambyah also said of Dr Wong: "A kind doctor, deep thinker, Singaporean patriot and good friend. You will be missed."

Meanwhile, Singapore First Party's Mr Tan, a former presidential candidate, credited Dr Wong for pushing him into politics. They had met through a mutual friend.

"Wee Nam persuaded and encouraged me to join SDP and introduced me to Dr Chee Soon Juan. That was the start of my political career. He provided good advice and guidance along the way, always putting the interests of Singaporeans at the heart of his advice," Mr Tan wrote on Facebook.

Dr Wong also contributed articles to sociopolitical websites and The Straits Times Forum page, and wrote a book, Thoughts From A Gilded Cage, which was published in 2018.

He graduated in 1972 from the University of Singapore, predecessor of the National University of Singapore.

After national service, he went into private practice as a GP until his retirement in 2016, said the Singapore Medical Association News.

Mr Simon Lim, 60, whose home in the 1970s was in Clementi where Dr Wong had his clinic, remembers the doctor coming to their flat to treat his late grandmother, who was too weak to walk to the clinic.

"I don't think he ever made an excuse not to see my grandmother. We were poor then and could pay him only what we had, but he did not mind," Mr Lim, who works in an engineering firm, told The Straits Times.

"I am greatly saddened by Dr Wong's passing and forever grateful to him. He was a very good man, patient and soft-spoken, and took the time to explain things to you,'' he added.