The Bioethics Advisory Committee (BAC) is saddened at the passing away of late Chief District Judge (Ret.) Richard Magnus on 14 March 2022 and would like to express its deepest condolences to Mr Magnus’s family, friends and colleagues through this note:
The late Mr Magnus was the Chairman of the BAC from January 2011 to March 2022, for more than 11 years. He was first appointed as a member to the BAC from 2001 to 2006. Under his great leadership, the BAC accomplished many major achievements. These include BAC’s advisory reports such as ‘Human Stem Cell Research’, ‘Genetic Testing and Genetic Research’, ‘Human Tissue Research’, ‘Mitochondrial Genome Replacement Therapy’, ‘Neuroscience Research’ and BAC’s 2015 and 2021 ‘Ethics Guidelines for Human Biomedical Research’. These reports comprised policy recommendations made after extensive consultation with members from the research community, leaders from religious bodies, the general public, and took into consideration international standards and best practices.
Many of BAC’s recommendations were translated into legislation. BAC’s 2002 recommendations on human stem cell research, reproductive and therapeutic cloning were incorporated to the Human Cloning and Other Prohibited Practices Act (2004). BAC’s 2015 recommendations from its ‘Ethics Guidelines for Human Biomedical Research’ formed the core principles of the regulatory framework for the Human Biomedical Research Act (2015). BAC’s guidelines is also a consolidated ethical resource for researchers and members of Institutional Review Boards (IRBs).
Under Mr Magnus’s sterling guidance, the BAC successfully held its 20th Anniversary Event in June 2021, comprising two pre-conference meetings and a two-day virtual public conference, themed ‘Bioethics Future – Empowering Our Next Generation’, which showcased the BAC’s achievements and work in the past 20 years, fostered and strengthened regional and international networks, reinforced that Singapore conducts human biomedical research with high ethical standards, and raised public awareness on the importance of bioethics in Singapore. A BAC’s 20th Anniversary Publication was also released in conjunction with the Anniversary Event.
Mr Magnus actively participated in various international bioethics platforms, including his participation in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Bioethics Programme since 2012. He was previously appointed to the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee (IBC) for two consecutive terms (i) 2012-2015 and (ii) 2016-2019. During his tenure on the IBC, he was the first Singaporean to be elected as Vice-Chair of the IBC for (i) 2016-2017; and (ii) 2018-2019. His international involvements allowed BAC to foster international relations with other counterparts, monitor international trends in bioethics, and profile Singapore as a leading biomedical research hub with high ethical standards. Mr Magnus, together with the BAC, also initiated and formalised the establishment of an Asian Bioethics Network (ABN) in June 2021, in recognition of the importance and value of establishing an informal network among the national bioethics committees of Asian countries to facilitate sharing of bioethics resources and programmes and the exchange of information and knowledge amongst other bioethics counterparts. This enables Singapore to achieve a more consolidated front at international bioethics events, be recognised as a leader in bioethics amongst Asian countries, and share experiences and guide other countries to develop their own capabilities.
Loss of a Great Man
Mr Magnus was an honourable leader and a great man. He lived his life with integrity, purpose, dignity, service, honour and the highest set of moral values. The BAC was privileged to have been led under Mr Magnus’s wise leadership. He was instrumental not only in the works of the BAC, but contributed immensely to the Judiciary and Public Service agencies that benefited the public at large. He was conferred the Public Administration Medal (Gold) (Bar) in 2003, the Meritorious Service Medal in 2009, the Public Service Star Medal in 2015 and the Distinguished Service Order for the 2021 National Day Awards for his contributions to Public Service.
The demise of late Mr Magnus is an immense loss to the BAC and Singapore. He will be missed but the legacy which he built will live on.
This note is written in fond memory of late Chief District Judge (Ret.) Richard Magnus and dedicated to his family, friends and colleagues, with sincerest condolences from all past and current members of the Bioethics Advisory Committee and the Biomedical Ethics Coordinating Office (BAC Secretariat), Ministry of Health (MOH).
Past members of the BAC: Associate Professor David Chan Kum Wah, Mr Jeffrey Chan Wah Teck, Ms Chang Ai-Lien, Mr Cheong Yip Seng, Mr Han Fook Kwang, Associate Professor Terry Kaan Sheung-Hung,
Mr Ahmad Khalis Bin Abdul Ghani, Professor Eddie Kuo Chen-Yu, Professor Lee Hin Peng, Ms Lim Soo Hoon,
Professor Edison Liu, Mr Niam Chiang Meng, Associate Professor Nuyen Anh Tuan, Prof Ong Yong Yau, Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, Professor Yap Hui Kim, Mr Zainul Abidin Rasheed, Associate Professor Ngiam Tee Liang, Dr Mary Ann Tsao, Mr Alfian Yasrif Bin Kuchit, Professor Ng Soon Chye, Professor K Satkunanantham, and Professor Alastair V. Campbell
Current members of the BAC: Dr Tony Tan, Professor Lim Pin, Professor Kon Oi Lian, Professor Lee Eng Hin, Dr Chew Wei Leong, Professor Chin Jing Jih, Associate Professor Roy Joseph, Associate Professor Lai Poh San, Mr Charles Lim Aeng Cheng, Associate Professor Lim Tit Meng, Dr Nazirudin Bin Mohd Nasir, Associate Professor Professor Ngiam Kee Yuan,
Professor Vineeta Sinha, Professor Patrick Tan Boon Ooi, Professor Tan Sor Hoon, Mr Tan Sze Yao, Ms Joyce Teo, Mr Gregory Vijayendran, and Dr Voo Teck Chuan