UM honours Catholic scientist with Emeritus status

Renowned, award-winning medical scientist, Prof Dr Christopher Ng Kwan Hoong, adds another feather to his already illustrious cap with the conferred Emeritus Professor status by Universiti Malaya (UM).

Mar 18, 2022

Professor Emeritus Dr Christopher Ng with wife Leng Suan, flanked by twin 12-year-old granddaughters Emma (left) and Eva at the recent Universiti Malaya convocation ceremony, where he was conferred Emeritus Professor status.

By Gwen Manickam
Renowned, award-winning medical scientist, Prof Dr Christopher Ng Kwan Hoong, adds another feather to his already illustrious cap with the conferred Emeritus Professor status by Universiti Malaya (UM).

Hailing from Kuala Lumpur, the multidisciplinary expert told the HERALD, “I could not have accomplished any of this but for the grace of God. It’s not easy to uphold Christian values in the secular world, there are a lot of challenges and temptations.”

“The Emeritus status is prestigious and a lifelong recognition of my years of service at the university, which is now ranked eighth in the Quacquarelli-Symonds (QS) World University Rankings: Asia 2022 and 59th in the World. This honour allows me to continue in academic work, I am still teaching and supervising PhD students. I am allowed to continue using the university’s facilities, and it helps open doors on a global platform for my research work.

“In my 35-years at the university, I have not been involved in any form of politicking. I have never applied, aspired, or lobbied for any of the accolades bestowed upon me. I believe if you practise virtuous living, God will bless us – in Bahasa Malaysia, we call it ‘rezeki’,” said the jovial, 67-year-old Emeritus Professor.

Winner of the Marie Sklodowska-Currie Award in 2018, Dr Ng is currently the first and only Asian, and one of eight persons worldwide, to be conferred this highly coveted accolade since 2000, as recognised by the UK-based International Organisation for Medical Physics (IOMP) which represents 25,000 of the world’s leading medical physicists.

Dr Ng has always tried to live a balanced life. In addition to all his achievements, he is involved in several issues of social concern.

In recognition of his unparalleled work as a medical physics pioneer whose research in radiation medicine has contributed significantly to the fight against breast cancer globally, Dr Ng was awarded the prestigious Merdeka Award for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement in 2020.

“My tag line is a quote from St Augustine, ‘Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues’ and I have dared to include it in my profile, in the Merdeka Award souvenir book and UM’s Convocation booklet this year, to give witness and evangelise my faith.”

The father of two and grandfather of three was also conferred the Outstanding Scholastic Achievement Award for his educational and pioneering work towards advancing the fields of medical physics and radiation medicine in Malaysia.

In further testimony to his significant work, Dr Ng was elevated as a fellow of The World Academy of Science – where he will uphold TWAS’ shared belief that developing nations can collectively address challenges such as hunger, disease, and poverty by building strength in science and engineers while supporting sustainable prosperity through research, education, policy, and diplomacy.

Dr Ng was a Jehovah’s Witness from a teenager, for over 30 years. Nine years ago, he and his wife, Sia Leng Suan, embraced the Catholic faith. He said the switch was amazing and fulfilling.

“Our Catholic neighbour had been calling us to come to the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist several times, but we never went. Finally, he said he was the lector for that day, so we went – all set to find fault but we couldn’t find any. We didn’t like it right away but were impressed that everything was scriptural and centred on Christ. After attending Masses at a few churches, our conversion journey began.

“We were attracted to the fullness of the Mother Church, its teachings, and traditions – it is complete. We liked how Mother Mary leads us to the Church. We had a lot of beautiful, unbelievable experiences and it was certainly divine providence; it was not a coincidence.

“We immersed ourselves in the Catholic teaching and prepared well to embrace the faith. Before our Baptism, we went for a retreat at the Maranatha House of Prayer in Bentong, while my wife had the privilege to visit the Divine Retreat Centre in Potta, India.”

In addition to his extensive contribution to the field of medicine and science, Dr Ng is an ardent steward of planet earth and the Pope Francis Laudato Si programme.

“From a young age, through school and family, we were very conscious about conservation and recycling – to respect the earth’s resources. We practised buying in bulk and sharing with others. We also used to practise handing down schoolbooks and uniforms to the junior students, but I don’t see that as much anymore.

“We should work together to make this earth pleasant and peaceful, and the only way to do that is to respect each other’s ideology and background, as the earth is our common home. We should not exploit the earth until the next generation has nothing left for them. I always incorporate this in my speeches or presentations.

“It is a struggle to persevere when there is little support but lots of indifference and resistance. However, I am patient and long-suffering in my pursuit to save the planet for the next generation.”

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