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Ipoh Club Obituary For Dr David Reid Tweedie

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Subject :Ipoh Club Obituary for Dr David Reid Tweedie
Published By : None 
Location : Ipoh / Sungei Siput, Perak
Estimated Year : 1984
Media Type : Ephemera
Source : Pat Price, Sydney, Australia and the Royal Ipoh Club
Remark :

This obituary was published in the Ipoh Club magazine of January 1985. Dr David Reid Tweedie had been a member of the club for more than 40 years.

Dr Tweedie was born in Scotland, at Kilconquahar, Fife on 3 October 1901, the son of a Scottish clergyman, he was educated in Kilmarnock and gained an MA in Latin and Greek from Edinburgh University. Subsequently he achieved a Natural Science Tripos in Cambridge.

After his hospital and a wide clinical experience, he volunteered in 1930 to join the Federated Malay States as a Medical Assistant, looking after the health of the European rubber planters and their Indian labourers. Malaria was the biggest problem to be faced and with no special drugs to treat it other than Quinine (which wrongly administered can kill). Consequently, anti-Larval precautions became his speciality.

However in 1932 with rubber prices falling and estate cut backs Tweedie had to return to UK where he joined the Indian Medical Service. Again Malaria was a major problem and because of his beliefs as to the solution to Malaria, he was soon appointed (facetiously) by his CO as Anti-Malaria Officer. Despite his COs doubts, he became very successful at reducing the problem.

In 1936 he returned to Malaya, acquiring the medical practice of Dr Waugh Scott in Sungei Siput where he again concentrated on Malaria from his small wooden clinic in the town.

January 1942, with the Japanese invasion underway, saw him appointed to Singapore in the Auxiliary Medical Services. Despite the takeover of Singapore by the Japanese he stayed on to work in his First Aid Post until he was interned in Changi by the Japanese.

After the war he joined his family in Australia for a short while before returning to his Sungei Siput practice and his house on the hill in Kamuning Estate, known as the White House, where he found that Malaria in the estates had returned to its previous appalling level. Here he had a Punjabi houseboy who was around 6 feet 2 inches tall. Dressed accordingly, he would ring the bell for lunch and serve at table with all the graces traditional of an English table.

In 1948 peace was shattered by the outbreak of the Malayan Emergency which started in Sungei Siput, but despite the dangers Tweedie stayed on treating planters, labourers and the local people without discrimination while ignoring the risk he ran from the Communists, who never harmed him and probably realised how valuable he was.

We are told that Dr Tweedie was reported to have a mixed reputation with the local planters, who were the main target in the Emergency, and that some of them thought he was somewhat sympathetic to the Communists Terrorists (CTs).

An interesting anecdote from someone who new him well relates to his games of golf at the Royal Perak Club in his latter years. Apparently on a round of golf unlike the other golfers, Tweedie needed 5 or 6 caddies to get him round. There was one to carry his large 'straw' bag which accompanied him everywhere and contained a hot flask, biscuits and vitamins to keep him going. A second caddy carried his golf bag and the remainder had the task of 'assisting' him up the slopes that were too steep for him, helping him in and out of bunkers and the like.

Dr Tweedie passed away on 17 December 1984, a legend in his own time, having treated local people for more than 50 years. He was buried in the Batu Gajah ‘God’s Little Acre’ cemetery, where many of the planters he treated are also interred.

Dr Tweedie is well written up in the book Doctors Extraordinaire, published by the Perak Academy and authored by Dr Ho Tak Ming of Batu Gajah and Ipoh.


We are fortunate to rceive the following from John Hembry who grew up here and knew Dr. Tweedie quite well:

"Re your archive on Dr. David Reid Tweedie - I had always believed, if only because my father told me, & it's in his memoirs, that Reid's bearer was a Pathan not a Punjabi. Name of Thulasi. I remember him well. My then wife thought the way he glided about so silently very spooky. He just appeared at one's elbow.

When Reid died Thulasi & his children started stealing Reid's belongings. Luckily Reid's son was in the Foreign Service stationed at Jakarta and could get up to Kamuning before too much had disappeared.

My father got into trouble from Guthrie's because he had given Reid permission to build the White House on top of the new Sungei Buloh Division on a 25 year lease (he stayed 40 years) at a peppercorn rent. I tried to rent the property when Reid died but was told the decision had already been taken to pull it down. Pity. I might still be living there!

What is not generally known is that my father knew that Reid would treat CTs who called in at the White House at night and Reid passed on much useful information which Dad only used if action could be taken without the slightest chance of its origin becoming known.

Also - I remember calling in at Chez Tweedie near Guildford(?) with my parents to be told by his wife Ruth that Reid was in France trying to remember where he had parked his Rolls Royce. Unbelievable! Best regards, John."

For the Ipoh Club's history, click here

To read Dr Tweedie's personal recollections of the start of the Malayan Emergency, click here.

To find details of the book "Doctors Extraordinaire", click here.

Click here to watch Alan Whicker's interview with Dr. Tweedie in an episode of Whicker's World Classic. The interview ends at 17:58.

Filename : 20080130-021