Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Switch to Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School

 By Epoch Times Staff
After finishing junior college, Ms Tan Wen Qi didn’t take a straight path to becoming a doctor.
She went on to obtain her engineering degree at the National University of Singapore, graduating in 2011. But despite receiving a first-class honours in biomedical engineering, she realised what she really wanted was to work more closely with people.
“During my third year summer vacation, I worked in the Chronobiology and Sleep Laboratory at Duke-NUS, where we studied the effects of sleep-deprivation on health in young men. It was a refreshing and eye-opening experience for me, as I was studying the biology of healthy individuals first-hand, instead of working with test-tubes on a bench. I realised that I wanted to work more closely with people, doctors and patients, and to be able to observe and have a more direct impact on people’s health,” says Dr Tan.
After four years, she is one step closer to her dream. Recently, the 27-year-old graduated with a Doctor of Medicine (MD). She was one of 49 students to collect their MD degrees at this year’s Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School graduation ceremony, which also saw the school’s first batch of eight PhD holders graduate in integrated biology and medicine.
In the interview with Dr Tan, Epoch Times finds out the opportunities Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School offers as well as her insightful training.
She emphasises, “We are often told that medicine is an art, not a science, and that is incredibly true. Medicine is a lifelong journey of learning that doesn’t stop after medical school.”
The petite Dr Tan also shares with us her views regarding the illicit organ harvesting trade, particularly in China.

“I have met a few patients over the past few years who have gone to China for kidney transplants—but most people don’t know where China’s large supply of organs comes from,” she discloses.

What opportunities does Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School offer?
It offers the opportunity to study medicine, particularly for those who didn’t have the chance to pursue undergraduate medicine. My classmates come from a variety of backgrounds—science, engineering, even economics, art history, and anthropology. They’ve also shown that you don’t necessarily need a science background to do extremely well in medical school.
Duke-NUS also has a research year where we are engaged in a research project with a mentor. We can choose to do it in clinical or basic science. I really appreciated the experience and extensive support I received from my mentors, statisticians and others who were part of the school faculty. They were instrumental in exposing me to clinical research and the option of becoming a clinician scientist.
Is medicine a rewarding experience? Why?
It is a rewarding and extremely humbling experience. We are given the privilege of examining and treating patients, and we deal with something so important to them—their health and their lives. Many patients are truly inspiring with their strength in the face of adversity, especially the paediatric patients. Despite all the hardship they experience in their health and personal lives, they remain real troopers. I have learnt a great deal from them!
What are the moral ethics for doctors?
There are four basic principles:
1. Respect for autonomy: respecting the patients’ right to choose or refuse treatment
2. Beneficence: doing what is best for the patient
3. Non-maleficence: “do no harm” to the patient
4. Justice: fairness and equality in the distribution of health resources
Tell us about your training in local hospitals. Share with us your experiences, and some memorable lessons?
I had most of my training at Singapore General Hospital, one of Singapore’s busiest tertiary hospitals, and KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital. I was fortunate to have very good mentors at these hospitals who taught me a lot. The patients are also my teachers; without them, I would not have the medical knowledge and experience I know now.
One of my most memorable lessons was following an elderly patient for her follow-up appointment with her cardiologist. She patiently and amicably spent three hours in tests and waiting before she could see the doctor. It made me appreciate all the waiting that a patient has to go through for a 10-minute consultation. At the same time, I’ve also experienced first-hand how hectic the clinics are, where doctors are pressured to see so many patients in a limited time. Time-management and tolerance on both sides become very critical things to have!
What do you think is the most pressing issue in healthcare today?
With Singaporeans living longer, we are already facing a greying population and an increasing burden from chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and dementia. The vast majority of patients who are admitted to hospitals have at least one of these conditions, and these conditions more often than not require lifelong management. Our healthcare system is under pressure to cope with the influx of these patients.
One of our professors, A/Prof Lee Kheng Hock, recently wrote a comprehensive article for Today (“Reinventing Singapore’s GPs”, 12 June 2015) that succinctly highlights the problem and how we can improve our healthcare system to cope with the impending demands. General practitioners and especially allied health workers like nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, and medical social workers are vital to caring for our ageing population in the community.
There have been reports of people going overseas for organ transplants, particularly to China. What are your thoughts?
It is unsurprising that people are going to China for organ transplants. The average waiting period for a kidney in Singapore is nine years. Conversely, the waiting period in China for organs is within weeks, and over 10,000 organs are transplanted per year. I have met a few patients over the past few years who have gone to China for kidney transplants.
But many don’t know where China’s large supply of organs comes from. Unfortunately, these organs are harvested from prisoners and prisoners of conscience, particularly Falun Gong practitioners, Uighur Muslims, Tibetans, and House Christians. These innocent people are detained for years in prisons across China, where they are tested and matched to recipients, and killed to fuel the organ trade.
The evidence from global investigations has been so serious that the United Nations Special Rapporteurs and UN Committee for Torture have repeatedly called attention to the matter, and governments in Europe, North America, and Asia have passed legislations against China’s organ harvesting practice.
If there is greater awareness of what is happening in China, I believe people will stop going there for organ transplants. It will discourage the organ harvesting trade, and save thousands of innocent lives in China.
For more information on organ harvesting in China, please visit

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Ride2Freedom: Children Small in Size, but Big in Heart (Photos)

Ride2Freedom riders get a moment to play among hollyhocks on June 26 in downtown Lawrence, Kan. (Cat Rooney/Epoch Times)

25 Ride2Freedom cyclists aim to rescue orphans in China

Friday, June 5, 2015

In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.

“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”  – Anne Frank

The Jewish girl Anne Frank wrote her famous diary during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Anne Frank was one of the most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Newly Crowned Miss World Canada Says Father Threatened in China

By Matthew Little, Epoch Times | May 21, 2015

Anastasia Lin campaigned for title on human rights platform, now faces direct threat against her family

Chinese security forces have moved quickly to silence newly crowned Miss World Canada Anastasia Lin, threatening her father who lives in China that if she keeps up her human rights advocacy he and the rest of her family in China will pay for it.
Lin, who won the national beauty pageant on May 16 and will go on to represent Canada at the Miss World contest, received a distressed phone call from her father in Changsha, Hunan Province on Wednesday night, May 20, telling her he had been visited by Chinese security forces.
Until then, he had been thrilled with her win.
“At the beginning my dad was so happy because all those Chinese media were reporting about my win, and he was forwarding the news—in my hometown they were really proud,” said Lin who grew up in Changsha.
“He told me he was getting 100 to 200 messages every day congratulating him.”
“But then suddenly my dad told me to stop doing what I am doing,” she said. Something changed.
Family and friends told Lin that news stories about her started disappearing from the Chinese Internet. Any of the stories that mentioned her human rights advocacy were apparently blocked by China’s Internet censors.
Then Lin got text messages from her father telling her that security forces threatened to put him through Cultural Revolution-style criticism.
“They said they would turn on my family like in the Cultural Revolution, where a father does not recognize a son and son would expose the father,” said Lin.

“My dad was really scared. He said, ‘You must stop what you are doing now, otherwise we will just go our separate ways.’”
Although frightened by the call, Lin said she was not surprised. Like many human rights activists with family in China, it’s a threat she knew she might face.
“I don’t want to put my family at risk, but it is precisely because of them, because of this situation, that I have to keep doing what I am doing. Otherwise, all I have done before is in vain.”

Heart for Human Rights

Born in China, 25-year-old Lin campaigned for the title of Miss World Canada on a human rights platform, pledging to continue her work in Canada for religious freedom and that she’d be a “voice for the voiceless.”
A theatre major with a minor in history and political science from the University of Toronto, the model and actress has built a career acting in films that expose human rights issues in her native China.
Her first film dealt with the controversy of the poorly built schools that collapsed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake killing thousands of children. She played a student who was killed in one of the collapsed schools.
She also stars in the Canadian-produced television series “Big Shorts,” a satirical take on Chinese state-owned television station CCTV, and recently starred in “Red Lotus,” which is in post-production. The film tells the tale of a female Falun Gong practitioner in China imprisoned for her beliefs.
Lin also practices Falun Gong, a Buddha-school meditation practice that was banned and subjected to severe persecution in China after it attracted some 100 million adherents in the early 1990s. The persecution still continues today.
Lin said the “Red Lotus” role was particularly moving and she doubted at times whether she could play it. “I had to interview many people, victims of human rights abuses,” she said.
She was unsure she could really play the role of someone who had been through imprisonment and torture and remained steadfast in their belief. Playing the part made a big impact on her.
“It was almost like the more hardship they went through, the more grounded they were in their faith,” she says.

‘Exporting Tyranny’

Until Wednesday night, that role and those interviews were the closest she had come to being directly threatened by the Chinese communist regime. Speaking about the call from her father, her voices hovers between fear, calm, and outrage.
Lin came to Canada when she was 13 and was deeply affected by what she describes as “the spirit of freedom” here.
Lin says she will use the Miss World Canada title to push harder regarding human rights issues and that she plans to engage governments and officials who have authority to address the human rights problems in her homeland.
The fact that she had won hadn’t even really sunk in when her father called.
Lin says she will be reaching out for help and support from the government and friends. She is worried for her family in China, but believes silence would just embolden the regime.
She said it is important to speak out about the threats against her family. She said if she keeps silent it will encourage the people threatening her dad and they will know they have a way to control her.
“If I speak out, I think it will protect my family, because the last thing those security people want is international coverage that they are threatening innocent people in China just because their daughter in Canada talked about human rights.”

Thursday, May 14, 2015

From Europe to Brooklyn: Hundreds Stream Across Brooklyn Bridge for Human Rights in China

By Larry Ong, Epoch Times | May 13, 2015
Falun Dafa practitioners cross the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn into Manhattan, New York, on May 13, 2015. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)
NEW YORK—They flew in from over the Atlantic to Brooklyn, and silently marched across one of America’s oldest suspension bridges bearing a simple, poignant message: People in China should be free to meditate.
On a clear, breezy Wednesday morning, nearly 600 practitioners of the Chinese spiritual practice Falun Gong set off from Cadman Plaza Park and crossed the Brooklyn Bridge to Foley Square. Mostly from Europe, they hailed from 47 nationalities.
They wore yellow T-shirts with the words “Falun Dafa is Good” and the hashtag “#Free2Meditate,” and carried brightly colored banners that read: “Falun Dafa: Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance” and “Stop the Persecution of Falun Gong in China.”
The march is part of World Falun Dafa Day celebrations this week, where an estimated 8,000 Falun Gong practitioners from all over the world are taking to the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan to remind New Yorkers that millions of peaceful meditators in China aren’t free to keep their faith.
Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, involves slow moving exercises and the observance of moral teachings based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Although the practice provided health benefits for millions of Chinese after its introduction to the public in 1992, the Chinese Communist Party launched a sweeping suppression in 1999—millions were persecuted, vilifying messages were spread in international media, and tens of thousands are suspected of having been executed in a state-run organ harvesting program.
“We hope that people in New York will note the severity of the persecution in China,” said Jana Skovajsova, a 31-year-old translator and interpreter from Czech Republic.

A Solemn March

“We want to let Americans know about the heinous crimes being committed by the Chinese Communist Party,” said Betty Hunter, a Brooklyn resident who organized Wednesday’s march.
Hunter, a retired law firm librarian, feels that a solemn, silent march is a good way of getting the attention of people who have never heard of the persecution and engaging them in conversation.
Hunter’s plan worked: On Brooklyn Bridge, Falun Gong practitioners handled out pamphlets about the practice and traumatic events from the past 16 years to passersby, and quietly explained to enquirers why they were marching. A policeman overseeing the proceedings was heard telling an elderly participant that it was “beautiful to see people from Germany, Finland, and other countries come together” to march.
Falun Gong practitioners also hope New Yorkers can appreciate the “beauty of truthfulness, compassion, forbearance,” said May Bakhtiar, a designer from Switzerland.
May Bakhtiar, a Falun Gong practitioner and designer from Switzerland, does a Falun Gong standing exercise in Cadman Plaza Park on May 13, 2015. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)
Bakhtiar, a youthful looking 52-year-old, was introduced to Falun Gong by a friend in 1997. After doing the exercises for three months, her allergies disappeared and her health improved, she said. Being mindful of Falun Gong’s moral teachings, she said, even tamed her fiery temper.
“Falun Dafa is good for the mind and body, and truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance is the answer to ending the violence in the world,” Bakhtiar said.

Then and Now

Many passersby accepted the pamphlets, and a handful stopped to listen to the Falun Gong practitioners.
This wasn’t the case the last time Falun Gong practitioners marched across Brooklyn Bridge in 2000, one year after the persecution began. The Communist Party’s propaganda against the practice was still in full swing, and the violent nature of the persecution and the peaceful nature of Falun Gong had not become clear to the world.
Qiu Ying, a 48-year-old Chinese teacher at a senior middle school in Italy, who has attended large-scale Falun Gong activities in New York since the early 2000s, recalls that New Yorkers then wouldn’t accept material from practitioners or even hear them out.
At an event outside City Hall on Tuesday, however, “casual strangers in the streets asking for directions accepted our pamphlets, were curious to hear about the persecution, and even expressed interest in learning the practice,” said Qiu, who is an Italian citizen.

The Beginning

An hour and a half after the march began, the last Falun Gong practitioners—a mother with a little girl in tow—stepped into Foley Square, the end point of the march. Banners were folded and stored away, and most of the marchers headed off in different directions.
“They’re going to Bowling Green Park, Central Park, and Times Square,” said David Tompkins, one of the organizers of World Falun Dafa Day.
Tompkins and co-coordinator Yi Rong have plenty planned for the week—Falun Gong exercise demonstrations in Central Park, candlelight vigils outside the Chinese Consulate, and a parade on Friday.
Some of the Brooklyn Bridge marchers stayed behind at Foley Square where festivities were already under way: performances of classical Chinese dance, traditional instruments, and a helping of Western music.