Monday, January 11, 2010

Sickness in Wealth and Poverty....

The story about Tang Wee Sung's kidney transplant over the weekend[Link] probably helped the public to understand the pain that Mr. Tang had to go through before he received his kidney. The full story itself is an interesting one and can used to illustrate various aspects and features of our system.

In June 2008, Mr. Tang was caught trying to buy a kidney for transplant from an Indonesian. He was jailed for one day and fined $17,000 for that offence. The case involved one of our top private hospitals. Following the case, the law was changed to allow people who donate their kidneys to get monetary compensation from the recipient or a voluntary organisation. A similar case involving a liver transplant in one of the 2 Slim 10 victims did not trigger such a debate or change in 2002. There were 2 victims of the side effects Slim 10 - an actress known as Andrea De Cruz and another woman called Selvarani Raja. Raja's family found a willing donor[Link] but the MOH refused to allow the transplant. There 500+ patients waiting for kidney transplants every year but only 80 transplants are done in Singapore. It is an open secret that richer kidney patients have been going to China & Phillipines for kidneys. The poorer ones on dialysis die earlier because they can't afford to go overseas. ..and this has been going on for many years. Somehow, it is only when the same tragedy befell on Tang, a retail tycoon, that the govt felt motivated enough to change the laws. In an incredible twist of fate, Tang received the kidney of one of Singapore's most notorious criminals, former triad leader, Tan Chor Jin aka One Eyed Dragon who was executed for murder.

There is only country in the developed world where the income inequality is higher than that of America - that country is Singapore. In Singapore, there are 750,000 uninsured citizens this number is far higher per capita than the number of uninsured people that trigger the healthcare crisis in America[Link]. In Obama's health care plan, there will be coverage for those with pre-existing conditions - this problem remains unsolved in Singapore - thousands of people with pre-existing conditions cannot get insurance and face the risk of financial distress and ruin. Under Obama's health care plan, there will be limits to what a person has to pay at hospital out of his own pocket. In Singapore, we are all painted this beautiful picture of a wonderful health care system that is the envy of the world - one that works and is affordable. Many people believe this because they have not gotten ill or have fallen through one of its cracks.

The other day I met an old friend with her boyfriend of 10 years. I jokingly asked them when I'll be "or kong" (fined) for their wedding. They told me sadly they will not be getting married. You see my friend was transplanted with an artificial heart valve when her natural one was destroyed during a bout of rheumatic fever when she was 12 years old. She needs regular medication and checkups. She had a number of small strokes due to blood clots and the risk of something major happening is not small. However, the reason they have decided not to get married is not because of the direct effects of her ill health - her boyfriend loves her and is willing to stand by her in 'sickness and in health'. They are not getting married because once they form a family, her medical burden will be passed on to her boy friend. He works as an engineer and with the new means testing rules his Medisave account will be completely drained once he becomes her husband. He also needs to take care of the medical need of his parents who are too old to be insured and have pre-existing conditions. I tell you this story to illustrate how health care policies affect people in ways you cannot imagine and how unaware people are of its negative aspects until they are affected by it.

Unfortunately for ordinary Singaporeans, the problems they have with the health care system is usually different from what magnates like Tang face with the system. If it is something like kidney transplant that eventually hit someone like Tang, the change comes quickly, almost overnight, to address the problem. However, most of the problems ordinary Singaporeans face such as how to finance their medical bill when they are seriously ill and their retirement will never become problems of the rich so these problems will take a long long time for the PAP govt to solve.


lim said...

For those who can afford, it is always advisable to get insurance cover for your kids when they are young..

Anonymous said...

1. Healthy and wealthy
2. Healthy but not wealthy
3. Not healthy but wealthy
4. Not healthy and not wealthy

1 is best and 4 is the worst everywhere, not just Singapore.

Anonymous said...

On special cases, should go and talk to your MP. Chances are, true love will cost you.

Anonymous said...

The 154th is sickening. It reads like a tabloid for the rich and privileged, painting a rosy picture of modern sodom.

Anonymous said...

No Case

Anonymous said...

Dear Singaporean Mind,
I enjoy reading your blog - the articles are incisive, and well-thought out and argued. But may I make one suggestion? please watch out for those typos, especially the use of articles. You might wanna get someone to proof read the article before publishing it on your blog. But keep up the good work!

LuckySingaporean said...

anon 12:38,

Point taken. I wanted to save this article, check it then publish it on my blog...but hit the publish button by mistake.

Anonymous said...

Yes, take sad case to MP. MP don't provide a satisfactory outcome, go to'complain bureau" like lucky.

Lucky can then compile all these stories and sue PAP for injustices.

Anonymous said...

No need vote useless opposition into parliament and waste taxpayer's money to pay him or her overinflated salary for making lame and incoherent speeches.
Set up an independant center and compile all these bureaucratic injustices toward the people and publish these stories for all to read.
Sooner or later, the gov will have to act.
Hopefully, Lucky won't get thrown into mental institution.

Anonymous said...


Towkay said...

I would say it is a fair meritocratic system. Mr Tang and other rich Towkays contribute to the economy 1000 times more than an average Singaporean. If anything were to happen to us, it will cause the economy millions of dollars.

On the contrary, allowing a sick Singaporean to die faster by not subsidizing his healthcare will save Singapore money. His organs can also be harvested to help Towkays, Elites and rich medical tourists who can afford market price for the operation. The dead Singaporean will also make way for a more talented foreign talent.

I am proud of Singapore achieving true meritocracy status and the far sighted citizens who voted for it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing a well thought through opinion - as always, incisive and thought provoking. Hopefully it will lead to creating a better society in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

moral of the story:

it is easy to write no head no tail story and fan sentiments

real test is whether you dare stand by these stories and take issue with the authority NOW, not when you get fat MP pay packet plus high society privileges for masturbating hollow words.

Anonymous said...

moral of the story:

luck is doing such a good job reporting on obvious cracks of the society, that we see a recent attack by the pap internet brigade.

vote for the pap by all means, IF you make a sum at least equivalent to singapore's gdp per capita, and pray that MISFORTUNE in some way or another not ever befall on you.

the rest of us mere green-eyed mortals should simply kick out pap.

Alan Wong said...

Tang probably survived at someone's else expense.

Of all the people on the queue, why would one-eye dragon specifically nominate Tang to receive his kidney. It just doesn't make sense if the system had been a open and transparent one and no queue jumping allowed.

I suspect something fishy is missing in the whole story. What is there to prevent Tang from paying One-eye dragon to specifically nominate him especially if no one is going to say that money has changed hands ?

I suppose that is the beauty of our system, money can make the world goes round ?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
sohcool said...

Dear LuckyS'porean,
I enjoy reading your blog. Keep writing and bon courage!

Lim Leng Hiong said...

To: Anon 11/1/10 13:23, 11/1/10 13:34, 11/1/10 14:21,

You want Lucky to sue the government? Ha ha... OK... I get your point.

But is what you're doing really worth it? I mean, patrolling this blog at 2 am... can't even rest during lunch time... meanwhile your superiors are living a totally different lifestyle.

Do you think they will still love you tomorrow?

runroad said...

'1 is best and 4 is the worst everywhere, not just Singapore.'

I'd dispute that sweeping statement. Not everywhere. Point 4 is disastrous in the US and Singapore and will wipe you out unless you're really wealthy. In Europe and Canada and Australia you get treated according to need, not according to the thickness of your wallet.

For example, medical treatment is free at the point of delivery in the UK. If you were in for a kidney transplant, cancer surgery, cardiac bypass, etc. it would not cost you one penny up front or subsequently for aftercare. There is no such thing as being denied care due to a pre-existing condition. That's why Britons love their NHS warts and all and are willing to pay the necessary tax to fund it. You know that however ill you become, the medical treatment you need will never bankrupt you or your family.

Those non-millionaire sinkies who aren't entitled to free medical care (basically everyone excluding your high-flying execs, MPs and govt servants) had better be absolutely certain that they and their loved ones remain in almost perfect health till the day they die. Even your private insurance will not save you from financial catastrophe if you contract something lingering and nasty. That's why Singapore's medical care system is crap for the majority, just like the US one it is modelled on.

Anonymous said...

I live in the UK. I also live in Singapore. I have a friend living in UK who unfortunately suffers from Parkinson's disease. He is in a very bad state. Only 58 years of age he finds it very difficult in all his daily mobility. All his medical treatment are free, all medications are free, his physiotheraphy sessions are free. The NHS came to his house to fit hand rails FOC and soon they will come to put ramps for his wheel chair, also FOC. One day he will have to go to a home for such disability and that will also be FOC. He cannot work and therefore he receives a weekly allowance. His utility bills are subsidised and all insulations for his home to keep him warm will be FOC. He also receives a £250 annual allowance to help his winter heating bill.

I have heard many times from Singaporeans criticising our "useless NHS". I guess the Singaporean medical system must be much better than ours?

Anonymous said...

i read in the new york times some time ago that a us couple had to deliberately divorce when one of them suffered a major health problem so that the healthy partner wld not be bankrupted with the medical bills. by divorcing, the healthly one cld then continue to take care of her husband even though the latter was saddled with medical bills.

way to go, singapore. anymore pap twiddling of our healthcare system, we'll be able to top the us in "sickness and wealth".

Anonymous said...

Because the PAP think the healthcare system is worldclass, our citizens have to pay "worldclass" fees to access healthcare. Everything seems to be measured in dollar terms nowadays. Soon, we will be charged for the air we breath.
Some say access to healthcare is a human right, but in Singapore though - there is no human rights.

Anonymous said...

The rich Singaporeans have nothing to worry about. Health care is affordable and if they pay worldclass fees they get worldclass treatment. What about those who cannot afford worldclass medical care? Do we let them die? I know medisave can be used but how long will that last? Close relatives' medisave can also be used, but that seem rather unfair because who can predict that they themselves will not need their own medisave? Why doesn't the Singapore govt use a little part of their hugh reserves to help those in dire need? I cannot understand why they don't.

Anonymous said...

Mr Lucky Tan

Its Money Money Money. Profits Profits Profits.

Btw,even Obama's supporters/spin-doctors are talking about how healthcare "reform" WILL get better.

In simple english, its NOT better.
Most US medical bankrupts HAD insurance.
YES. Wake up.
Its the same or will be the same in SG.
Except that the quality is lower so many die or get kicked out of the system because they get bankrupt and put Mr Khaw's ministry in the red. Cant have that.

For value, look to Thailand and even India. Yes. India. Big country. Some states have life expectancy as long if not longer than us.

The good news is Singapore can do better than USA. We can easily halve the DEFENSE budget to pay for a better system.

The bad news is that the Lucky Tans\Alis\Ravi\De Souza must make themselves available for elections and NONE of them is doing so.

Sorry Mr Tan, Singapore Healthcare is a red flag that makes me very angry.

runroad said...

Why doesn't the Singapore govt use a little part of their huge reserves to help those in dire need?

It's not their reserves, anon, it is OURS. Squeezed from our blood, our sweat, our tears. They have used your assets to put in place a society run by the elite, for the elite and called it meritocracy. There is no place for lesser mortals at the table except as servants and contributors to an enforced nationwide Ponzi con game.

Turned 55 last July 2009? Look in your pocket and see how much of your CPF you get to use for yourself after they force you to retain a $117,000 minimum sum 'for your old age'. Does that have a familiar, kindly ring to it - like raising minister's salaries and GST 'to help the poor'?

Haven't got that much money? That's your tough luck, baby. Live on bread and water and press your nose up against the glass to see what they're doing with the little that you do have but cannot touch. You can continue to exist like a pauper till the end of your days but you won't be a pauper on your death-bed. Isn't that nice?

As long as we have this govt you can look forward to being given the absolute minimum of assistance with the utmost maximum unwillingness. Feel the spurs digging into your hide yet? You'll receive just enough to stop you taking to the streets or the opposition in protest at the shabby treatment. We are truly dumb, stupid beasts of burden if we put up with this bullshit any longer.

Anonymous said...

gic lost USD 575 million of OUR money leh... that translates to USD 100 million per person in singapore.

damn the pap!

Anonymous said...

From personal experience, it is very difficult for the average person who have not had serious health problem to understand the financial burden of healthcare in Singapore. That is why the government can get away with tweaking the CPF and the nation's healthcare policy. By the time we find out how bad the system is, it's usually too late to change. This is going to be the fate of many Singaporeans.

Anonymous said...

What puzzles me most of all is this, if the system is so skewed and so elitist, why has this system gone on for so long. Singaporeans are not stupid when it comes to money. In fact they are all so bloody money minded it gets quite embarassing at times. Elections after elections have shown that the PAP have the majority of votes and seats in govt. Surely if the healthcare system is soo bad as indicated in this blog, then Singaporeans would have done something about it by now. or is this a new things that has just materialised and has caught majority of Sngaporeans by surprise? As an outsider looking at the Singapore system, one would think that all Singaporeans are well cared for and there are not much displeasure around. Past election results have shown that the people are all happy and satisfied with the system. 82 seats in parliament is an indication of the satisfaction of the people surely.

Anonymous said...

Maybe all those who kpkb here on this blog are just a handful of Singaporeans who are the longkang fish who cannot make it in this meritocratic Singapore. So sorry for you lah, why don't these people consider migration to a less competitive environment?????

Million Mullah Minister said...

singaporeans are extremely myopic - they only act on money they can see in their range.

that's why they keep voting in an incompetent gvt when carrots are dangled in front of them - hdb upgrading using singaporeans' own money.

Anonymous said...

Carrots, hdb upgrading and you forgot fear. The fear of indentification if you vote opposition. Imagine you are in civil service and have an eye on promotion etc. If you fear identification if you vote opposition, then you will never dare vote opposition and kwai kwai vote for PAP, even if you hate the present govt. Rice bowl is more important to you than your own political conviction.

lim said...

@anon 12/1/10 07:30

Well, you need to be aware of how many singaporeans actually get to vote, since many don't due to no opposition contesting in the ward...

Only in 2006 general election was the pap not automatically returned to power, as the oppositions managed to field enough candidates to deny pap the majority, but still of those who voted, only 66% voted for pap, but this doesn't not translate to 33% opposition representation in parliament..

You can see how screw-up the system is..

Anonymous said...

Well, tell me then, who should shoulder the blame for allowing such a screwed up system to be in place? No prize for guessing that - the Singaporeans themselves. Live with it, if you allow this system, you just got to live with it, so stop complaining about it not being fair. Why not go for propertional representation? other countries have that?

Anonymous said...

this is singapore inc. a dog eats dog place. it is better for all of us to migrate and retire elsewhere when we hit a certain age.

Anonymous said...

Money is God. Elitism is best. If you are poor you better die. If you cannot contribute you are useless and make way for FTs from foreign land. If you are sick and cannot pay, tough luck.

Wow, Singapore is so good to have all these things. A first world country indeed, better than the Swiss standard, as promised by you-know-who.

Anonymous said...

Money is God. Elitism is best. If you are poor you better die. If you cannot contribute you are useless and make way for FTs from foreign land. If you are sick and cannot pay, tough luck.

Wow, Singapore is so good to have all these things. A first world country indeed, better than the Swiss standard, as promised by you-know-who.

lim said...

@anon 12/1/10 10:33

Well, the younger generation are starting to want CHANGE, so the current system may not last long..

Anonymous said...

The younger generation only care about the latest gadgets their parents will buy for them and also they want to look good. They do not care about who governs them as long as they have their ipod, iphone etc.

lim said...

@anon 12/1/10 13:26

Which younger generation are you referring to? The generation that are in their teens and CAN'T vote, or those in their twenties/thirties who are frustrated with the huge influx of foreigners?

Anonymous said...

Lim, you must be one of those who are frustrated by the huge influx of foreigners. I think you must also one of those who still has not had the spurs stuck into your hide. Well live with it, the foreigners are here to stay and more will come. Until the day you can get your govt to change their policy on us FTs, you have to get off your backside and compete with us. Like it or not we are here and there is nothing you can do about it. Singapore needs us because we are here to creat more jobs for you. We are here to improve your lives and you better be thankful, OK?

lim said...

@anon 12/1/10 14:11

I think you actually believe all those craps that pap tells you, well, good for you..

But I think singaporeans see thru' all those bullshits about foreigners creating jobs for us singaporeans..

Frankly, I don't really have problems with foreigners, since I do have friends who are malaysians and indonesians.. and I have no worries about losing my job..

However, I do see that pap has pretty much betrayed singaporeans.. and I will use my vote..

Anonymous said...

complain to lucky, lucky will write stories to screw pap!

more stories more pressure on pap forcing a change

problem solved!LOL

Anonymous said...

At least I think there are some effects brought about by the discussions here. Just scrutinize the local news section and you can see for yourself that the ruling government is really worrying...or should I say listening...haha : P

Anonymous said...

Even if they are worrying or starting to implement somethings because of what is being discussed on the internet...I will still go for two-party dominant political landscape....I always believe in Absolute power no matter how good the government is now or for the next 5 to 10 is not a good system and chances of mistakes and dreadful policies may haunt our future generations...just pollution..what we do now may not affect us...but may greatly impact on our future generations such that they are irreversible...

Anonymous said...

I go for no party, no election and therefore, no possibility of destabilizing the conutry with each change of leadership
we need to evolve to a new political model

Anonymous said...

Do not waste taxpayer's monies on idiots who basically provide lip service and turn yellow in parliament.

Towkay said...

Singaporeans, don't turn your back on meritocracy. We are just starting the next phase to bring meritocracy to the next level.

Talent will be given jobs, scholarships, housing, medical care, opportunities regardless of their nationality.

Untalented and people without merit will be allowed to expire or retire to JB/Batam. Of course not before milking them of what's left of them through taxes, low wages, CPF and national service.

Please vote for PAP to realise this vision for Singapore.

Anonymous said...

"If it is something like kidney transplant that eventually hit someone like Tang, the change comes quickly, almost overnight, to address the problem."
You want to know why this happens?? This is because only RICH understands the PAIN of the RICH, and you don't even have to guess who is the RICH class of people, they are the one voted by some 66% moron in this country.

Anonymous said...

To Anon@12/1/10 17:35:

"I always believe in Absolute power corrupts."

That's the main issue in current Singapore's politic system.

No checks and Ah gong say one opposes..

Anonymous said...

Why don't the oppositions say it like lucky does, or like the rest who slam the pap in forums, where it counts - in the house?

No guts or No Case? = )

Having more of the same in the house changes nothing unless more comes pretty close to equal representation on both sides and that can be politically destabilizing or dirty for the country when they will be forced to wrestle for more power to achieve their(each) political objectives - history will then repeat itself and we may not be that lucky this time.

Anonymous said...

Political violence has been mild because of sole and benign power.
Change the power structure and things can turn ugly like what you see around us.
But if you don't offset the power structure, nothing changes.
People who want that kind of power will not look for a better system.
Meritocracy plays to their strength.

runroad said...

'...history will then repeat itself and we may not be that lucky this time.'
'Political violence has been mild because of sole and benign power.'

Yeah, yeah, we heard — divine right to rule, change horses at your peril, nobody does it better, blah, blah, blah... Why not save yourself the trouble and cut 'n paste these immortal words since it's the heart of your message:

• You know, the cure for all this talk is really a good dose of incompetent government. You get that alternative and you'll never put Singapore together again: Humpty Dumpty cannot be put together again...and your asset values will be in peril, your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people's countries, foreign workers. (justifying the obscene 83% pay hikes for all Singapore ministers, The Straits Times, 5 April 2007)

• ONE freak election result is all it will take to wipe out Singapore’s success in building up the city state… This could happen if voters became bored and decided to give the ‘vociferous opposition’ a chance – out of ‘light-heartedness, fickleness or sheer madness. In five years, you can ruin this place and it’s very difficult to pick up the pieces… (sowing F.U.D, Straits Times, June 26, 2008).

• I think all bets are off because in five years they (opposition) can ruin this place.
(speculating wildly without an iota of evidence, AFP, June 27, 2008)

• There is a conspiracy to do us in. Why?… They see us as a threat.
(senile delusions of grandeur, Straits Times, July 12, 2008)

Yawn. Liar, liar, pants on fire...etc.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, runroad for the reminders...

I am pretty tired for all the justifications for one single dominant group of people ruling the just need to look at the history of human civilisation to know intuitively that it won't work.

We have mentioned before and we have seen it before. The only consolation is that no matter what happens, humans will still survive and life still goes on. The issue is whether we can avoid or make it less painful for our future generations.

Anonymous said...

And the one main point about the ruling government...

They have pretty made it a playing field that is obviously not equal and they have unbashfully said that if you are the ruling government, you do what is best to consolidate their interests.

Well, point is that you do that for business and other things. But for running a country, you tweak every single election process to consolidate your political power, that borders on cheating. No wonder Singaporeans attitude and values have waned to the point where the ends justifythe means.

Anonymous said...

The father said..... He will rise from his grave if he has to and the son said... He will fix people who get into his ways if he has to
do they sound like they are playing Barbie dolls to you?
Getting more idiots into parliament to balance power is naive. If you can't see what that does eventually, you must have been sleeping while your neigbors are busy cooking pig's blood soup.

The way I see it, for eternal bliss, we need to ditch the western model of democracy or political system.

Now I am sure you bright people will figure that out? LOL

don't mind me, I am just musing out loud.

Anonymous said...

Absolute power corrupt. Deprived from power, lagi corrupt. Ha ho ha ho

lim said...

@anon 13/1/10 14:28

>> Getting more idiots into parliament to balance power is naive. If you can't see what that does eventually, you must have been sleeping while your neigbors are busy cooking pig's blood soup.
The way I see it, for eternal bliss, we need to ditch the western model of democracy or political system.

Why do you think that checks and balance is naive? In every aspects of your life on earth, there are checks and balances.. From the hospital equipments that monitor your mother during her labor to deliver you to this world, those equipments undergo checks and recalibration.. from the cars that you drive, the house that you stay in...
Unless you prefer there are no checks, living in a house that may collapse while you are sleeping...

And why is western democracy not desirable? Maybe you prefer sadam hussein or stalin or hitler?

Anonymous said...

"Getting more idiots into parliament to balance power is naive."

If idiots can get into parliament, then these idiots must be the best. Else why would idiots be voted in. food for thought.

Anonymous said...

if you get to kick arse, you are a better kind of idiot.

guess whose arse got kicked again and again?

and we know who are the ones sitting quietly collecting mp salary don't we?

i think it is suppose to show us how cunning they are(cunnier than the arse kickers) for mousing along with their work.

it's like two faces. what they say outside of parliament and what they say when they are in parliament are two different person.


food for thought

runroad said...

The father said..... He will rise from his grave if he has to...

He also casually mentioned a military solution in the event of a 'freak' election result. The father has a nasty habit of running off at the mouth to his state-controlled propaganda machine which faithfully transmits his crap however absurd the bullshit. Notice he was careful not to repeat that to any foreign news organisation. Why? Because he knows they'd point at him and have a field day howling with laughter at the utter bollocks which you seem so impressed by. What does that say about you?

...and the son said... He will fix people who get into his ways if he has to...

And the son also said he wants mee siam mai hum. He also stated categorically that he raised GST to help the poor. He burns chilli and onions to ward off rain. Sounds like a loony to me. What say you? they sound like they are playing Barbie dolls to you?

No, what I hear is the sound of barely-veiled, ugly threats to the electorate publicly uttered by our country's two top leaders. Do you know of any leaders of a first world nation who are so low-class as to do that? They are a disgrace to Singapore, in other words.