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Table of Contents
REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 114-117

Traditional chinese medicine in Malaysia: A brief historical overview of education and research


1 International Education College, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai, China; Department of Chinese Medicine, Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, International Medical University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
2 International Education College, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai, China

Date of Web Publication24-Sep-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Huiying Wang
Department of Cardiology, Shuguang Hospital Affiliated to Shanghai University of TCM 528, Zhangheng Road, Pudong New District, Shanghai City
China
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/CMAC.CMAC_28_19

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  Abstract 


The education and research of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in Malaysia started coincidentally circa Malaysia's independence movement. Before the independence, much of the development focused on establishing treatment centers and Chinese medical halls to provide TCM treatment. Periodicals and journals advocating TCM and its advancement were published between the 1940s and 1960s, but many did not survive after a few issues. The challenge posed by the Immigration Ordinance 1952 further united TCM practitioners and TCM associations to establish the Chinese Medical Institute of Malaya. The trend gained momentum, and many educational institutes were set up in each of Malaysia. From the 1970s, Malaysia started hosting regional and international TCM conferences. In 2000, TCM education in Malaysia had finally gained recognition from the government. A TCM program standard was thus released by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA). To date, there are seven private higher education institutions which offer TCM programs based on the MQA standards and have established international collaborations with other universities. It is projected that Malaysia's TCM education and research will grow further as a result of China's Belt and Road initiative.

Keywords: Education of traditional Chinese medicine, history of traditional Chinese medicine, Malaysia, traditional Chinese medicine


How to cite this article:
Wong HF, Ng SC, Tan WT, Liu J, Lin X, Goh SW, Hoo BL, Chai CE, Wang H. Traditional chinese medicine in Malaysia: A brief historical overview of education and research. Chin Med Cult 2019;2:114-7

How to cite this URL:
Wong HF, Ng SC, Tan WT, Liu J, Lin X, Goh SW, Hoo BL, Chai CE, Wang H. Traditional chinese medicine in Malaysia: A brief historical overview of education and research. Chin Med Cult [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Nov 19];2:114-7. Available from: http://www.cmaconweb.org/text.asp?2019/2/3/114/267699






  Education and Research in Traditional Chinese Medicine Top


This article is a continuation of a previously published article in Issue 2 of Chinese Medicine and Culture 2019. The previous article examined the development of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) associations in Malay Peninsula. Levies imposed on the Chinese herbs by the British colonial government had brought local TCM practitioners together to form the Federation of Chinese Physicians and Medicine Dealers Association of Malaya. An import restriction placed on the free movement of practitioners originating from China had also led to the formation of the Malaysian Chinese Medical Association (MCMA). In addition, the Federation of Chinese Physicians and Acupuncturists Associations of Malaysia was set up to absorb self-studied and patrimonial-educated TCM practitioners.

This article aims to provide a brief overview on the education and research development of TCM in the precolonial and postindependent Malaysia.

The education and research development of TCM did not actually take off until Malaysia gained its independence. Before independence, much of the development focused on establishing treatment centers and Chinese medical halls to provide TCM treatment for the needy. The development of TCM services has been discussed in the previous article concerning the establishment of TCM institutions.

Back in the days of the British ruling, there was little academic research happening on TCM. A Chinese medical journal named the Yi Yao Zhi Sheng (《医药之声》Voice of Medicine) was established in the Pinang Island and published its inaugural issue on December 15, 1936. According to the Historical Museum of TCM in Malaysia, the chief editor of the time was a practitioner named Mr. Zhang Zhichu (张之初). However, the journal failed to last long. In 1948, after publishing 12 issues, the Voice of Medicine ceased its operation.[1] Another publication named Yi Yao Yu Wei Sheng (《医药与卫生》Medicine and Health) was established by the Singapore Chinese Physicians' Association. Its inaugural publication was on September 1, 1954, but it ceased operation soon after publishing the 4th issue in 1955.[2]

There were other publications advocating TCM knowledge during the same time. Periodicals such as the Yi Cui (《医粹》 Medical Snippets), Yi Tong Xian Sheng (《医统先声》Medical Commission), and Yi Heng (《医衡》 Medical Values) were the representatives publishing fortnightly in columns of local newspapers. However, these medical periodicals did not last long either, and they ceased their operations between 1948 and 1954.[2]

During the pursuits of independence in the 1950s, TCM practitioners in Malaya, including the then Malaysia and Singapore, were united under the Malayan Chinese Traditional Chinese Medical Association (马来亚华人医药总会). This entity represented the eagerness of the TCM practitioners to strive for their common rights and interests in relation to the practice of TCM. Under such spirits, TCM practitioners from both regions had joint efforts in compiling, editing and publishing the Ma Hua Yi Yao Zong Hui Hui Kan (《马华医药总会会刊》Malayan Traditional Chinese Medical Association Journal) and the Xing Ma Zhong Yi Yao Xue Bao (《星马中医药学报》 Singapore-Malaya Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine). Unfortunately, similar to previous periodicals, these journals were equally short-lived. The “Malayan Traditional Chinese Medical Association Journal” and the “Singapore-Malaya Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine” published only one issue and four issues respectively, before ceasing operations. To date, there is nolocal journal dedicated to the publication of TCM-related research in Malaysia.[2]

In 1952, the British colonial government issued the Immigration Ordinance 1952 replacing the laws of the State of Emergency between 1948 and 1960. As it coincided with the rise of nationalism, stringent border control was laid down with specific conditions, limiting immigrants by nationality, occupation, and gender.[3],[4] This legislation has resulted in restrictions on the free movement of people, including Chinese medicine practitioners. In light of this situation, the Federation of Malayan Chinese Medicine unanimously accepted the proposal by the Chinese Physicians' Association of Central Malaya to establish an educational institute. The Chinese Medical Institute of Malaya (马华医药学院) was thus established on October 1, 1955. This is the first institution dedicated to the education of TCM in the history of Malaysia. Its objective is crystally clear, i.e. to nurture local TCM practitioners. Under the leadership of the late Prof. Ngeow Sze Chan (饶师泉), the TCM program was administered by the Chinese Physicians Association of Central Malaya (中马中医师公会). Students studied part-time and would go to Tung Shin Hospital and Chinese Medical Aid Department for their clinical practices.[5],[6] In 1957, after gaining independence from Britain, the Chinese Medical Institute of Malaya changed its name to the Chinese Medical Institute of Malaysia and continued its mission of nurturing new generation of TCM practitioners.

The subsequent decade saw the blossoming of many TCM education institutes. The Sarawak, Penang, Johor, and Perak Chinese Physicians Associations each set up their own educational institutes in their states of Malaysia. These institutes contributed to the preservation of the TCM culture. Although some of these institutions no longer exist today, the Penang and Perak Institutes of Chinese Physicians still carry on with their missions of nurturing future leaders in TCM. To date, these institutes have turned out many trained graduates.

The 1970s to 1980s witnessed many collaborations between Malaysia and Chinese associations in the Southeast Asia region. On April 7, 1984, the first Malaysia Chinese Medicine Symposium was held at the Federal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. This event was organized jointly by many Chinese associations specifically aimed at promoting TCM. The event was followed by a 9-day exhibition on Chinese herbs and TCM therapeutic instruments. It was deemed successful because over 500 participants attended the event. With the success of the symposium, Malaysia hosted the 2nd ASEAN Congress of TCM in Kuala Lumpur on July 26, 1986. This academic congress was held once every 3 years with the aim of strengthening cooperation and academic exchanges among Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines. It is deemed to be the most important event within the TCM industry in Southeast Asia. Malaysia was also the host nation for the subsequent 5th, 9th, and 11th Congress. In addition, the MCMA had successfully organized the International Conference of World Federation of Acupuncture and Moxibustion Societies in Kuala Lumpur on April 2, 2006.[7]

In the 1990s, the Chinese Medical Institute of Malaysia converted its TCM program into full-time study. Thereafter, the institute collaborated with Shandong University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine to offer twining TCM undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs. Among them, collaboration with Shandong University of Traditional Chinese Medicine was the earliest and the first of its kind that was recognized by the Chinese government. These full-time academic collaborations ensured that the offered program is benchmarked against the China standards and locally trained students are competent in practicing TCM on par with the Chinese counterparts.[6]

Stepping into the 21st century, a transition was seen in TCM education. Before 2000, the duty of nurturing competent TCM practitioners was fully with the TCM associations. In other words, all TCM programs were offered by civil societies. In 2000, the government started to take over this role. A program standard for diploma and bachelor's degree in traditional and complementary medicine was developed in 2010. Among the 12 standards, two TCM bachelor program standards were developed in collaboration with the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA).[8] However, the publication of this standards also meant that the Chinese Medical Institute of Malaysia and other educational institutes under the Chinese physician's associations could no longer offer any TCM program until they could fulfill the requirement set by the MQA. TCM bachelor programs that have been developed are now offered by local private higher education institutions. In April 2011, the Malaysia government signed a bilateral treaty with China with regard to mutual recognition of higher education degree between the two countries.[9] TCM education benefitted from this framework of recognition. Obstacles in TCM educational collaborations between China and Malaysia that the TCM associations previously encountered are now a history of the past. From the initiation of TCM grassroots through to the involvement of the government, TCM education in Malaysia has finally gained a wider support and recognition. Although still a long way toward being fully established, it is clear that efforts to develop TCM education program suitable for the needs of Malaysian are starting to pay off.

There are currently seven government-approved private higher education institutions offering TCM bachelor degree. They are the International Medical University (IMU, 国际医药大学) [Figure 1], University Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR, 拉曼大学) [Figure 2], Inti International University (Inti, 英迪大学) [Figure 3], Management and Science University (管理与科学大学), Xiamen University Malaysia Campus (厦门大学马来西亚分校), Southern University College (南方大学学院) [Figure 4], and International Institute of Management and Technology (IIMAT, 国际管理与技术学院).[10],[11],[12],[13] Some of these universities such as IMU, Inti, and IIMAT offer twining or credit transfer mode of studies for students to obtain their TCM degrees from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shandong University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. IMU and UTAR have even developed postgraduate programs in Chinese medicine.[14] Despite many international collaborations, there is still generally an insufficient academic pursuit within the TCM practices in Malaysia. However, with the introduction of China's “Belt and Road Initiative” and close collaborations between the two countries, Malaysia's TCM education and research are projected to grow further once tapped into these abundant project resources.
Figure 1: International Medical University

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Figure 2: Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman

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Figure 3: Inti International University

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Figure 4: Southern University College

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Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Wang YX. A chronicle of traditional Chinese medicine in Malaysia's history. J Tianjin Univ Tradit Chin Med 2002;21:55-7. Available from: http://www.tjzhongyiyao.com/tjzyydxxb/ch/reader/create_pdf.aspx?file_no=20020342&year_id=2002&quarter_id=3&falg=1. [Last accessed on 2019 Jul 02].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Singapore Chinese Physicians' Association. A Brief History of the Academic Medical Journals of the Singapore Chinese Physicians' Association. Singapore: Singapore Chinese Physicians' Association; 2011. Available from: http://en.singaporetcm.com/a/kanwu/2011/1115/398.html. [Last accessed on 2019 Jul 02].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Immigration Department. History of Department of Immigration. Putrajaya: Ministry of Home Affairs; 2016. Available from: https://www.imi.gov.my/index.php/en/corporate-profiles/history.html. [Last accessed on 2019 Jul 02].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Kaur A. Labor crossings in Southeast Asia: Linking historical and contemporary labor migration. N Z J Asian Stud 2009;11:276-303. Available from: http://www.nzasia.org.nz/downloads/NZJAS-June09/21_Amarjit_5.pdf. [Last accessed on 2019 Jul 02].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Federation of Chinese Physicians and Medicine Dealers Associations of Malaysia (FCPMDAM). History of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur. Available from: https://fcpmdam.com/?page_id=1222. [Last accessed on 2018 Apr 24].  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Malaysian Chinese Medical Association. History of Chinese Medical Institute of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Chinese Medical Association; 2014. Available from: http://www.mcma.com.my/mcma-tcm.php. [Last accessed on 2018 Apr 24].  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Malaysian Chinese Medical Association. Historical Museum of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Chinese Medical Association; 2016.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Malaysian Qualification Agency. Programme Standards: Traditional and Complementary Medicine. Petaling Jaya: Malaysian Qualification Agency; 2010. Available from: http://www2.mqa.gov.my/QAD/garispanduan/2013/tcm_en.pdf. [Last accessed on 2019 Jul 02].  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Ministry of Education Malaysia. Mutual Recognition in Academic higher Education Qualifications. Putrajaya: Ministry of Education Malaysia; 2017. Available from: http://www.mqa.gov.my/pv4/int_relation_MRA.cfm. [Last accessed on 2019 Jul 02].  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman. Introduction to UTAR 2019. Available from: https://www.utar.edu.my/econtent_sub.jsp?fcatid=1&fcontentid=8324. [Last accessed on 2019 Jul 28].  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Southern University College. Campus View. Skudai. 2017. Available from: http://www.southern.edu.my/ch/about/pgallery.html. [Last accessed on 2019 Jul 28].  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
International Medical University. About the University. Bukit Jalil. 2019. Available from: http://www.imu.edu.my/imu/about-imu/the-university/. [Last accessed on 2019 Jul 28].  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.
Inti International University. Our Campus. Nilai. 2018. Available from: https://newinti.edu.my/campuses/iu_campus_small/. [Last accessed 2019 Jul 28].  Back to cited text no. 13
    
14.
Traditional and Complementary Medicine Division. Accredited Traditional & Complementary Medicine (T & CM) Higher Education Programmes in Malaysia. Putrajaya: Ministry of Health; 2019. Available from: http://tcm.moh.gov.my/en/index.php/education/higher-education. [Last accessed on 2019 Jul 02].  Back to cited text no. 14
    


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  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4]



 

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