Mixed like a Rojak

rojakWhat is “Rojak”?  Rojak is a dish served in Malaysia and Singapore. It is essentially a local salad. The ingredients in a typical rojak dish include turnips, cucumbers, pineapples, bean sprouts, peanuts, fried tofus, banana flowers, green mangos and a delicious dressing that consists of lime juice and prawn. However, there is really no specific formula for it as every place and every stall would have some minor differences and that adds to its depth of flavor and intricacy. I love the dish. It is healthy too.

On April 28, 2015 morning I received a wake up news from my friend in the USA. Patrick sent me a link on social media and told me that the dental school of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) was currently ranked second in the world by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). As I am an alumni of the dental school at HKU (I was among the 6th batch of dental graduates in 1990, and I am currently serving as Honorary Professor there), the news certainly made me feel wonderful as I had been part of the team since its early days.

Summing up the overall faculty rankings in Asia, the National University of Singapore (NUS) and HKU ranked first and second respectively while the University of Tokyo and Seoul University both shared the third spot overall.

The top three spots for dental schools worldwide were: Karolinska Institute, HKU, and University of Gothenburg.

Karolinska Institute in Sweden has been producing top notch scientific research papers in the last few decades. The University of Gothenburg certainly made an indelible mark in dentistry as they came up with the idea of osseointegration and that formed the foundation of modern dental implants. Dental implants certainly revolutionalized dentistry and how dentists practiced since the last half century. They are the places to be at for high-end dental research.

Wait a minute, how did the other schools I was affiliated with fair in the QS ranking?

UCLA, with multiple big name academicians in almost every single department in its dental school all the time, was ranked 15th. The University of Toronto (U of T) Dental School was ranked 50th. The U of T Prosthodontics department, where I was on staff for over a decade, was the first in this world to verify and successfully refine the Swedish dental implant research.

Since I moved to Singapore, I have been on staff with the Dental school of the National University of Singapore (NUS) and I have been having 9 post-graduate Prosthodontic students under my care for many years now. NUS was ranked 43rd. I would say all the boys and girls from NUS dental school who got sent off overseas for post-graduate studies in the last few years have been doing excellently. I meant truly EXCELLENTLY!!! This speaks a lot regarding the quality of dentists which NUS has produced.

The evidence is simple – Many post-graduate program directors have expressed interest and requested for more NUS candidates to be sent their way as the NUS dental school alumni are in general, a joy to have in a post-graduate program – outstanding students in the classroom and fantastic clinicians with patients.

Slightly off the curve, maybe I share my experience the year before I headed off to university?

The year was 1984 and it was our annual final examination at St Louis school right before our summer holiday. That 1983-84 academic year I was having a great time enjoying my track & field events and other extra-curricular activities, as a result I hardly hit the books. However, without knowing it, my biology examination was top in my very competitive class, and I almost scored full marks!! I dared NOT disclose that to anyone in my class but our teacher, Fr. Bogadek knew it well. He gave out the examination results and quietly passed a remark that someone in the class was very lucky to have spotted all the questions…  Well, of course I knew that someone was me but no one ever told me that spotting questions right was an undesirable behavior.

That brought me a happy summer with many days spent on the beach over the south side of Hong Kong island. Well, sort of…  That incident eventually converted into tons of hard work needed when school re-opened after the summer holiday and I was supposed to tackle the university entrance examination shortly after. Silly me…

After knowing all these, my emotional status is currently like a rojak…

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