Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How people can just fall into policy blackholes....



Quite incredible how this type of incidents can happen and bureaucracy cannot make exceptions. Its amazing people apply rules like robots and some of these rules are so obscure that people neither expect they exist or can possibly guess they are there. Yet, when they violate them unintentionally, the penalty can be hefty - in this case, it cost the woman a new flat in the SERS programme. She was happily and legally living in her flat until the govt implemented SERS for hlock triggering a chain of events that left her without a home and under compensated for her flat - she was paid $192K for her flat based on 2004 housing price and disallowed from buying the replacement flat under SERS. The whole idea of SERS was to knock off old flats so that better and taller flats can built in their place - it was supposed to be a win-win for residents who get to buy a new flat in the nearby location and HDB gets to reuse the land more efficiently. Really amazing how obscure rules can get in the way of the basic principle of SERS and cause people to lose their homes.

Last year I wrote about this incident of a fuming Singaporean who called up the radio station to explain his plight and how he ended up homeless. Remember how the rental flat system ran into problems because HDB failed to meet demands for these flats - the waiting time was more than 1.5 years at one point. To solve this problem, HDB announced a set of rules to kick people who shouldn't be in the queue out[Link].

".....prevent abuse of rental flats include a rule that bars those who have sold their HDB flats in the open market from applying for a rental flat from HDB for 30 months after the date of sale. Some sellers, said Mr Chan, make profits from the sale of the flats."  - Straits Times Report.

The caller needed a rental flat because he ran into financial difficulties and was forced to sell his flat. After paying his creditors he had nothing left. He  had a low monthly income of about $1000.and was the sole breadwinner Although he was poor and had no money, he was barred from applying for a rental flat for 30 months....when he becomes eligible to apply he may have to wait for another year so that is a total of 3 years....how does he house his family in the meantime? He appealed several times and went to see his MP but can't get his problem solved. The basic idea of providing rental flats is to house those who are so poor they cannot afford to own a home - yet the HDB created a rule to knock out people whom the scheme is designed to help.

"...I regret making the decision because, in the end, the baby continued to be in intensive care, and KKH now runs up a total bill of more than $300,000..."- Lim Hng Kiang, regretting the decision to save a baby's life because KKH ran up a $300K.


One of the worse case such rules is the one created by Minister Lim Hng Kiang when he was the Minister of Health. This is one sickeing example and shows the extent the PAP govt can go to deny help to the people who needs it. When Lim Hng Kiang was health minister, he found out that parents of babies who needed to go into ICU would downgrade to a lower class to save cost. What happens is middle class families often sign up for class A or class B or private packages for delivery at hospitals. Most of the time the baby is alright and the hospital stay is a few days. However, in a few unfortunate cases the baby is born with complications - there was no Medisheld coverage for babies born with health problems during the time Lim Hng Kiang was health minister. When the baby was born with health complications and had to go to ICU, the parent would quickly downgrade to class "C".  The reason for doing this is very practical ICU stay can cost up $1000 per day and sometimes $3000 when some kind of procedure has to be performed on the baby. For prematured babies who have to stay in hospital several months it is not uncommon to run up bills of several hundred thousand or more. ICU is the same for class A, class B and class C - hospitals have only one ICU and distiguish between the classes only in the computation of bills. Because the PAP govot does not provide universal healthcare coverage and leave out babies with congenital health problems, downgrading is the only way for middle class parents to avoid the risk of financial ruin.

When Lim Hng Kiang became health minister he decided to stop parents from downgrading when their babies needed to go to ICU. If they came in to deliver the baby as a Class A patient, thei baby would have to go into ICU as a Class A patient. This is a horrible rule as couples signing up for a Class A delivery package that cost, say $3000, get stuck in Class A if their baby needed to go into ICU incurring bills of hundreds of thousands. Imagine the trauma of having a baby that has a serious health problem and needs care in ICU - instead of giving you a helping hand, the govt put in a rule to maximise your financial pain at a time when your family is having a crisis.

One day this rule kicked in when a couple in a private hospital (Mount Alvernia?) had a prematured baby that urgently needed surgery that can only be be done at KK hospital. With this in "mo downgrade" rule place, the couple were not able to transfer the baby as private patient to KKH unless they were able to pay a hefty deposit. The reason why the hospital administrators had to call up Minister Lim Hng Kiang in the middle of the night in order to transfer the baby from private hospital to public hospital  was the rule was implemented without any avenue for appeal....only Minister Lim could make the decision to allow a downgrade to lower class so that the parents didn't need to put up a financial deposit. Lim Hng Kiang not being his usual self that night decided to allow the exception and allow the child to live. He later said in parliament that he regretted his decision that allowed the child to get the operation in KKH because the final (unsubsidised) bill came to $300K. .he preferred to have the young couple shoulder this burden..but the basic idea of a "public hospital" is to provide affordable care. It is quite amazing that they created a rule that get in the way of the basic reason for having a public hospital then express regret for making an exception that allowed the hospital to do what it was suppose to do - saving lives.

There are very few things worse than falling into a policy blackhole in the PAP system. You can get into a really unexpected painful situation....and the PAP govt is not going to help you.

30 comments:

Agness Mumbi said...

I am very pity to read your blog.We cannot create such types of event in our social.Great post.

Anonymous said...

Singapore Citizens, who cannot afford to buy HDB flat because they are poor, have to build tents on East Coast Park and use the tents as their house. These Singapore Citizens are not allowed to rent any flats.

On the other hand, Permanent Residents and Foreigners are welcomed to rent the rental flats at low price, well below market rate, from HDB, JTC, etc.

Help yourself! said...

Take care of yourself
Look after your family, yourself

When it comes to vote, take care of yourself.. vote yourself. Do not help the Government.. they do not need your help!

Anonymous said...

"How people can just fall into policy blackholes...." Lucky Tan

The thing is these people are a very small minority, almost totally insignificant where votes during elections are concerned.

So I think PAP looks at the big picture, and that is to ensure the majority are well taken cared of and never to fall into policy blackholes.

You can't make 100% happy (not realistic) but at least make 60% happy, which is very achievable out of 2 or 3 million voters.

And with a good design of GRC system, at least 93% seats can be attained with only 60% votes.

Anonymous said...

I read..."The President has approved the use of past reserves for the acquisition of land in 27 Sers projects since 2002"
If so...
Use Reserves to buy 10 t0 12 storey flats, move people to 40 storey flats... then build 40 storey flats on sers land to sell at market rate! Profits, Profits and more Profits? Anyone can calculate how much profits made?Poor, us Singaporeans

Anonymous said...

This is a Rich family!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps lucky can offer his illed gotten wealth from PAP illed conceived policies to help these poor homeless people(only the family of this particular case so he can't complain he lacks the money to do it) instead of wasting resources by writing rubbish?

Chinapore said...

This country has nvr failed to fascinate me. It's so amazing tt ppl actually celebrated it's existence. Just beautiful, uniquely sg. Govt ripping it's ppl off day after day, time after time.

Anonymous said...

moral of the story? your roof is for your family shelter, not a banker to pay off your sins or debts.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, need money, go borrow from Lucky Tan. From how he writes, he has a big heart for poor people.

Anonymous said...

can also borrow monies from all filthy rich ministers and MPs from opposite camps with extremely low interest rates I am sure hehe

Anonymous said...

From the online citizen's post, I seems that this lady is holding a Malaysian PR, for the past 16 years. Can anyone clarify that?

Anonymous said...

it is necessary to be aware about the govt tricks whenever you sign anything with them.

Anonymous said...

Can we asked our children, when they turn 21, whether they want to serve National Service or want to be Singapore Citizens - since most of fore-fathers are immigrants.

Can we have our China/India citizenship.

Anonymous said...

From the TOC post on the above, it seems that the family was trying all along to exploit loopholes to maximise from the system. I do not have all the details but i will not jump to conclusions. The case is not that simple. Having said that, we as taxpayers should not be subsidising PRs when ut comes to public housing.

Warrior said...

rellisRegardless of the outcome, there are processes that seemed to have failed through no fault of the family.

Where are the MBA scholars?
Where are the top talents?

This an unfortunate, unforeseen event?

Whats happend to telescope view over the horizon?

Interactive Government?
Reactive Government?
Over reactive Government?
Uninvolved Government?
Passive Government?

No wonder spectacles are required..
and even then....bleh!

Yeah, sure its only one case.. no big deal.. same as its only one SARS event... no big deal is it?

Whole life talk about numbers greater than 1

Numbers less than 2.. can ignore..
unless its JB Jeyaratnam..

I will choose my battle with you, dear elites..for now.

Prepare for battle in 2016.

Lucky Tan said...

anon 0900,

I don't see anything in the way of loopholes being exploited. The basic fact is this woman had a home with her daughter before they SERS here home and after that she had no home and was under compensated (based on what she said).

Go back to the principle of SERS...it is not meant to leave people in this state.

Anonymous said...

Somebody please e-mail this blog post to that out-of-touch person who keeps asking young impressionable women to get married and have children.

Every time you decide to have babies, you incur a huge financial risk in Singapore.

Even worse than gambling at our casinos.

Anonymous said...

When it comes to ordinary people, the books are thrown at u - no exceptions to the rules even tho the case warrants a review.But if its a 'white horse' case, they will double bend & make an exception with all the justifications.

Anonymous said...

Complain so much for what?!? 60%-70% of Sinkies are happy with status quo. Bad genes and lousy babies only happen to the other 30%. They just want their own properties to be expensive, have good salaries and high bonuses. Other things are other people's problems, not their business.

Anonymous said...

I guess it's events like this which will make the 60% to realise that if we allow a party to be in absolute power for over 45 years it will become a dud with daft Ministers, daft policies, compliant civil service and a kangaroo court. Without a opposition there can never be proper check and balance no matter what they say and it will be the people who will suffer.

Anonymous said...

The total bill of more than $300,000 in ICU - a huge chunk of this bill is huge profits for the govt; all these helping to pay the huge salaries of our 1st class ministers.Maybe this is why the minister 'regrets...' .Mt Alvernia cost is generally cheaper than A class govt hospital cost.The person going there did not expect that unfortunate issue to happen to the baby.That ICU cost is really tough for the middle class.To those who slam Lucky's article,hope they don't encounter such situations.To the ministers,a few hundred thousand $$$ means nothing.Anyway, all their 1st class medical expenses are paid by tax-payers

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have problems accessing temasek review?

Anonymous said...

No country is perfect. Every country has her own set of problems. Everyday, there are so many Singaporeans having buffet and wasting food away. Singaporeans are not perfect so PAP and her policies are also not perfect. In every country, there will always be people who fall thru the gaps even in first world countries. There are beggars everywhere in first world countries. Things are not so bad in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

this woman deserves it! why do we need to bother about these people when they are already rich, i am sure the husband bought the home in JB as a back up plan. so USE IT! you are in need of a back up plan now.

i know what this schemeing singaporean family are up to. they probably plan to retire in their JB home and rent the whole HDB out at an exorbitant price! Kudos to HDB for catching these assholes!

Anonymous said...

/Singaporeans are not perfect so PAP and her policies are also not perfect./

No one and system is perfect. But if it is priced @ premium, then you expect close to perfectness.

The never ending complaint when a little bit of thing goes wrong is precisely the expectation coming from marketing and pricing themselves very high.

Anonymous said...

While in London for only just a few days, I had encountered young beggars approaching me for money! Something which I never experience living in Singapore for decades!

I also read about entire tent cities in the USA.

So I think Singapore quite OK lah, or else things will not be so peaceful, stable and prosperous, although it may seem on the surface.

Anonymous said...

To the MIW, layperson are just digits, a human battery, and their can be wasted.

For the MIW and their elites family, their life are precious and must be save at all cost including sending a modified SIA plane to send them home for treatment.

A Taiwanese was right to say that Singaporean are daft.

Anonymous said...

And yet msm called people like us cynics who like to criticise the PAP policy. If they put all these loopholes together and formed a heart wrenching stories, I am sure most PAP ministers will also find themself cynical to all their own policies too. The boils down to the root of - POOR LEADER.

Anonymous said...

This thing should not happen.
If only we look at every case on it own merit with common sense and not stuck to rigid interpretation of rules .
Rules can never cover all cases to ensure right outcome.