Remember these pictures from my blog Kota Bharu In Pictures Part 3?
Monday, January 28, 2008
Those were the exact posting on my Blog about Kota Bharu In Pictures Part 3.I was presumptious when I made the remark that Dr. Bates was a Brit. Dr. Bates is an Australian.
Datuk Dr. Mahmud, not a practitioner anymore but a successful businessman on the international scene.
Dr. Mahmud posing with Dr. Bates.Two good friends reunited.
On 9th August 2008 I went to see Dr. Bates again to get some basic informations about Dr. Bates. He was in a hurry so I had to work very fast to get some basic informations about him.
Dr. Thomas James Bates graduated as a doctor from Adelaide University Asutralia. It was also there that he met a Miss Yeip I Bee an Art student from Kelantan. The young Dr. Bates had fallen head over heel for Miss Yeip. His proposal for her hands in marriage was accepted on the express condition that they get married and live in Kota Bharu.
The love was so strong that Dr. Bates readily complied and thus in 1968 he opened up a private clinic in Kota Bharu. When his parents were alive they used to to travel to Australia to meet them. Since they have both died, there is nothing much to go back to anymore. Malaysia is home to Dr. Bates and his family. From his marriage, he has two children, Steven and Christopher. Steven is the head of anaesthetist in a hospital in London whereas Chris is a dentist working in Singapore.
When I mentioned JT to Dr. Bates he remembered her as a small child of a certain height which he gestured with his hand. That was that long ago. JT remembered Steven as the leader who lead her siblings to Church in Kota Bharu.
Of the five pioneering private clinics in Kota Bharu, The Bates Dispensary is the only clinic that is still going with its founding doctor still practicing. The others like Aziz Clinic was closed soon after the demise of Dr. Aziz. The picture below shows where the location of Aziz Clinic near the Kota Bharu Bus stand. Mrs Lim, an avid reader of my blogs who used to live five doors away from Aziz Clinic and she confirmed the location of this place as the former Aziz Clinic, which is now a phone shop. The shophouse where Mrs. Lim's family used to live in is now a convenience store of the 7 Eleven chain..
Aziz Clinic was located where the phone shop is after the Super Roti.
Another clinic that is still operating is The Merican Dispensary belonging to the late Datuk Dr. Ezanee located not far from The Bates Dispensary. I remember going to his clinic once and had the chance to be examined by the good doctor himself. His sight was so bad that his glasses was almost an inch thick. On top of that he still had to use the magnifying glass to write. Despite all that many loyal patients insist to be examined by Datuk Dr. Izanee himself.The Merican Dispensary is located infront of Bazaar MPKB.
A close doctor friend of mine used to work for Merican Dispensary. It was good business while he was working there but he was not happy with his salary. He experienced the wrath of Datuk Dr.Izanee when he proposed that he be paid on per patient basis instead of a fixed amount. This young doctor later set up his own clinic in Gua Musang and made his fortune there.
I don't have much information about the other two great doctors by the name of Dr. Ng Oon Hwee who owned Victory dispensary and Dr Choo Eng San who also had a clinic in Kota Bharu. Both have ceased operation. Of the two only Dr. Ng is still alive and he is living in Singapore.
Kota Bharu had quite a number of expatriates family back then and these are Dr. Bates major clientele. I have met a few of them such as Datuk Wrigglesworth who was a lawyer. He came to visit my foster father the late Raymond Hall when I was staying with him when I was schooling for three months in Sultan Ismail College Kota Bharu. During that time my foster father brought me to see another expatriate ex planter residing in Kota Bharu.
English was well spoken by the people of Kota Bharu then so Dr. Bates had no problem communicating with his patients. Over the years Dr. Bates caught up with the local dialect and converse well with them in the Kelantanese dialect. The locals have faith in him as a good doctor. I remember my wife's late grandmother insisting on to be taken to see Dr. Bates whenever she was ill.
Mrs Foo my ex teacher reminded me of another Indian Doctor by the name of Dr. Aru who set up clinic almost opposite to Dr. Bates Dispensary. He was a comtemporary of Datuk Dr. Izanee of Merican Dispensary meaning that he set up clinic even earlier than Dr. Bates himself. His family moved away from Kota Bharu after his death.
Beside medical doctors Mrs Foo recalled two private dentists by the names of Dr. Chiam (deceased) and Dr. Wee who opened up private practice from the 50's. She remembered Dr. Chiam as a thourough person who would look into every nook and corner of the her mouth. Using the foot powered drill (never had the chance to see one myself), Dr. Chiam would drill every cavity however minute. She remembered the pain to have reached the 'bone and the head'. No wonder Mrs. Foo still has her own set of teeth as the fear of another drilling even with the latest laser drill made her look after them well. The thought of going to the dentist bring shivers down her spine.
These are the great doctors that had served in Kota Bharu. Dr. Bates is still serving after 40 years at it. If it was money that these doctors were looking for, then Kota Bharu was a wrong choice. So money wasn't the main criteria for them. Service was and still is paramount.
Looking hale and hearty, I guess Dr. Bates will continue to serve his patients for many more years to come. He is the last of the great doctors of Kota Bharu who is still serving.