20 Jul 2018 06:44:44 PM

Returning specialist shares his vision for eye care in Malaysia

While many Malaysian professionals living and working abroad choose to stay in their host countries for personal and economic reasons, many of them have returned to Malaysia to settle down and contribute their professional skills and experience towards the country’s growth and development.

One such individual is Dr Lim Lik Thai, a consultant ophthalmologist and professor with the Ophthalmology Department, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS).
Dr Lim in Parakou, Benin in 2012 performing an eye surgery. All photos courtesy of Dr Lim.
“I obtained my medical degree from Queen’s University Belfast, UK,” said the Kuching-born Lim. “After completing my housemanship and a year of training in general medicine in Belfast, I moved to Glasgow and Berkshire for my eye specialist training and sub-specialty training in vitreo-retina surgery and retina diseases.”

After 15 years in the United Kingdom, Dr Lim decided that it was time to return to Malaysia.
Returning to Kuching to settle down and serve the community had always been my long-term goal whilst training in the UK.
However, training to be a good, well-rounded ophthalmologist takes time, especially when pursuing double sub-specialty fellowships. I needed to be sure that I was absolutely equipped to serve in these sub-specialties before I returned to Malaysia,” Dr Lim explained. Besides serving the country, Dr Lim naturally wanted to come home and care for his aging parents as well as spend more time with them.

Relating his experience participating in TalentCorp’s Returning Expert Programme (REP), Dr Lim said that he was satisfied with the support and assistance given to him by TalentCorp officers to ensure his timely return to Malaysia. “There is additional documentation for medically-qualified applicants, so applicants should study these requirements carefully,” he advised potential applicants.
In 2012, Dr Lim was in Parakou, Benin to do volunteer work in a local eye hospital for charity.
Upon returning to Malaysia, Dr Lim was able to make a smooth transition into work and life in general. “I am a versatile person by nature. I also believe that my intention to serve my community and enhance the quality of eye care in my state of Sarawak prompted me to quickly adapt to the local ways and collaborate with my other colleagues to contribute to eye care, especially in the sub-specialty that is currently lacking in my state,” he said.

When asked about how he plans to use his skills for the benefit of Malaysians, Dr Lim replied, “Initially, I thought that being an eye surgeon was sufficient as I am able to help patients. But when I ventured into teaching, I realised that teaching and research also play an equally important role in driving advancements in ophthalmology. I hope that many more doctors will do the same and impart their skills and knowledge with other members of the medical community as by doing so, we will be able to help more patients.”

“This is what I would term as ‘augmented benefit’,” he added. 
Back home in Malaysia, Dr Lim actively serves his community and aims to enhance the quality of eye care in Sarawak.
Dr Lim acknowledged the challenges faced by Malaysians abroad and the predicament faced by those who are thinking of coming back to Malaysia. “There are still many Malaysian professionals abroad, including those in the field of medicine,” he said. “They all have their reasons – be it personal or economic -- for continuing to live and work abroad.”

There are those who may be apprehensive about coming back to Malaysia and leaving their comfort zone, lives that they built for themselves while abroad. Dr Lim has this to share with them:
Don’t be afraid to return home to serve the nation and make Malaysia your new ‘comfort zone’ where the quality of life and job satisfaction may even be better than where you are right now.

Dr Lim Lik Thai returned to Malaysia after 15 years abroad under TalentCorp's Returning Expert Programme (REP). To learn more about the REP, visit our website at rep.talentcorp.com.my