James Khong has experienced many things during his 73 years, but one of the things he is most enthusiastic about is living in Melbourne’s CBD.
Dr Khong has lived at the Queen Victoria Centre for the past decade and has just opened a new medical clinic in nearby Lonsdale St.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that he’s too old. The medico is lucid, lean and radiates life.
“I practise what I preach,” he said. This means good nutrition, meditation and exercise.
And if you think that’s just a bunch of well-meaning words, consider this: James’s mum Chong Chiew Ying is 100-years-old and is happily living with 100 per cent of her mental facilities in Blackburn.
Dr Khong wants to give. In particular, he wants the CBD to be a healthy place to live and says that his is the only after-hours medical clinic. He says he is always available on call (see his ad in page X in this edition of CBD News).
He is a western trained medical doctor with an appreciation of the well being benefits of more alternative practices such as massage, yoga and meditation.
He particularly believes that after hours facilities are needed for students and visitors to Melbourne.
Dr Khong came to Melbourne as a boy many years ago from his native Malaysia and boarded Melbourne Grammar before going on to graduate in medicine from Monash University in 1967.
Since then he has had a full career including directing emergency departments at Preston/Northcote, the Austin and Epworth hospitals and general practice at both Phillip Island and South Melbourne.
Never one to stay too long on the same things, he also has a keen interest in the arts and has combined this passion with medical services to the Australian Ballet and the Victorian College of the Arts.
“I think I’ve got a bit of gypsy in my genes,” he said.
However, he is very settled in the CBD and just loves the buzz.
“It’s very lively around here with so many students and restaurants. You can see the whole city changing in front of your eyes,” Dr Khong said.
“They say Melbourne is the best city in the world and I totally agree.”
And, while he loves the growth, he is very concerned that residential amenity does not appear to be keeping pace with the population growth.
“I’d like to see more open space and public venues for leisure and entertainment,” he said.
He said the city needed more pocket parks and small gardens.
“I envisage a little stage where buskers compete in front of the public and the performer with the most public applause is the winner. I’d be happy to donate the first prize!”
And he also suggests gym equipment at tram stops so commuters can do some chin-ups while waiting for their tram.
Dr Khong has an infectious zest for life which, in part, stems from a serious illness 10 years ago which almost killed him.
He says western medicine saved him, but eastern practices sustain him.
While he regularly prescribes drugs to patients, the real prescription, he says, is wisdom and advice about how to live a full and meaningful life.
“While I was recovering from my illness, I had to hang on to something deeper and stronger to survive,” he said.
“I consider myself my lucky to be here. My purpose is to now give back what I have learned.”