The origin of Singapore Dental Association (SDA) can be traced back to 1938 when Professor E K Tratman wisely envisaged the need for an association to represent the dental profession and founded the Malayan Dental Association.
In 1929, Dr E K Tratman was appointed as Professor of Dental Surgery and Head of the Dental School of the King Edward VII College of Medicine. In 1938, he formed the Malayan Dental Association and became its first President while Tan Sri Dr Tay Teck Eng became the Honorary General Secretary.
In the early years when the number of dentists was very small, there was very little activity and the association came to a standstill during the World War II period. After the defeat of the Axis powers, the Medical College resumed teaching in mid-1946 and slowly the Association was revived. At that time, most of the activities were organized in conjunction with and in the dental school.
After Malaya gained independence in 1957, Malayan Dental Association continued to represent the dental professions both in Malaysia and Singapore. In 1963, Singapore together with Sarawak and Sabah, merged with Malaya to become Malaysia. The following year, at the conclusion of the 4th Asia Pacific Dental Congress (APDC), the name was changed to Malaysian Dental Association.
In 1965, Singapore separated from Malaysia and became an independent nation and thus, in 1966, an agreement was reached to dichotomize the Association into the Malaysian Dental Association and the Singapore Dental Association. The SDA was formally established in 1967 and Dr Lau Kieng Hiong was elected as the first President for 1967-68.
In 1974, SDA contributed an initial capital sum of $5,100 (which included a personal donation of $4,100 by Dr Lau Kieng Hiong) to set up the SDA Endowment Fund. By 1989, the Fund has grown to $76,983.
SDA first hosted the 10th APDC in 1981 and then the 2nd MDA/SDA Joint Scientific Congress in 1983. SDA has been actively projecting its image both locally and internationally culminating with the hosting of the 78th FDI Annual World Dental Congress in 1990.
SDA has grown tremendously and was chosen to host the FDI Congress again in 2009. These international events brought great prestige and honour to the Association as well as the nation.
SDA is mindful of the standards of professional conduct and ethics as well as matters affecting members. After much effort, the ‘Code of Ethics’ made its appearance in 1977. In recent years, the Ethics Committee has worked with Medical Protection Society in managing complaint cases successfully.
In recognition and appreciation of members who has rendered meritorious service and made significant contribution to the profession and the Association, the Roll of Honour was established in 1974.
Condensed from essays by Dr Edmund Tay Mai Hiong, Dr Lau Kieng Hiong and Dr Yii Kie Mung published in the Proceedings of the Conference Commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of Faculty of Dentistry and 60 Years Of Dental Education (1929-1989)