Friday, June 27, 2014

The MediShield Life Conundrum

Singaporeans may realise that the biggest joke currently in vogue in town is the MediShield Life. Since its introduction with the massive efforts by PAP ministers, including the inimitable PM Lee Hsien Loong, to explain the so-called panacea to help especially finance-strapped Singaporeans, particularly the impecunious elderly, to defray their huge medical bills, the cynical joke is that very few people, especially the elderly, understand the intricacies of the over-hyped scheme. They could only apprehend with certain amount of incredibility what government leaders have told them of the benefits they would get out of MediShield Life but how they would benefit, whether financially or medically, is all Greek to them.

The smart Alec minister or ministers who so ingeniously compiled the MediShield Life scheme should be congratulated for his ingenuity in devising such an intricate scheme that has almost every rational Singaporean, young and old, baffled. It will be some kind of miracle if government leaders could ultimately unravel this so-called humanitarian puzzle to the benefit of Singaporeans, especially the elderly.

One wonders where the problem lies. Is it because government leaders have not found the knack of explaining the scheme in a language the would-be beneficiaries would find it easy to understand? Or is it because the would-be beneficiaries are so obtuse that no amount of explanation, however simple, would be comprehensible to them? Anyway, this seems to be a million-dollar question which behoves the PAP leadership to find a quick solution.

One classic example of the inexplicability of the current MediShield scheme is in the case of a well-known Chinese community leader who had a cataract operation of both eyes at the National University Hospital a few years back. He had been paying premiums for his MediShield and was therefore presumed to be covered for his cataract operation at the NUH. To his horror he was told by the NUH staff that he had to make full payment of more than $4,000 for his operation and that he could not use his MediShield account for part or full payment. He could not help but feel that he had been shortchanged by the authorities. His was not the only case as there was another elderly Chinese who had reported to the Lianhe Zaobao recently that he had a similar experience.

The Pioneer Generation Package, like the MediShield Life, is another PAP grandiose scheme designed to win over the electorate in the next general election in 2016. The MediShield Life Review Committee's report may or may not make any significant clarification to the intricacies of MediShield Life.

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Diminutive David vs the Mighty Goliath

A diminutive David versus the mighty Goliath. This is an apt description of the defamation suit that the hubristic PM Lee Hsien Loong has taken out against the intransigent blogger Roy Ngerng for allegedly accusing him of misappropriating CPF monies. The plaintiff is the powerful and affluent prime minister who can be portrayed as the mighty Goliath. The defendant is aptly portrayed as the diminutive David who shows admirable determination as a giant killer. He is a former patient co-ordinator who has been questionably dismissed by his employer theTan Tock Seng Hospital arising out of the defamation suit against him.

It is a well-known fact that no opposition politician, or for that matter any individual or company, has ever won  a defamation suit brought by the PAP Government or its leaders in Singapore. A very notable example is the pathetic experience of the late Workers' Party chief J.B.  Jeyaretnam who was sued into bankruptcy by the vindictive Lee Kuan Yew for defamation. It would be a miracle for Roy Ngerng to try to win the defamation suit by PM Lee in Singapore. In this case it would be most unlikely for the diminutive David to kill the mighty Goliath.

PM Lee may claim himself to be "flame-proof" but he can only disregard the overwhelming public opinion in support of Roy Ngerng at his own peril. Roy Ngerng has already openly apologised to PM Lee and withdrawn the offending post. He has within the limit of his financial ability offered to pay $5,000 as damages but this has been rejected by PM Lee as "derisory". In fact with his colossal wealth, PM Lee could show magnanimity by accepting the $5,000 as token damages which would have endeared him to the public. However, this did not take into account the vicious gene of his notorious father who would have no compunction in bankrupting his political opponent by defamation suit. The credible amount of money that Roy Ngerng has been able to raise in his appeal to the public may only be sufficient for him to defray his legal expenses and unfortunately he will have to face the fate of bankruptcy if the amount of damages demanded by PM Lee is astronomical.

However, this could be a Pyrrhic victory for PM Lee. He will win the defamation suit against Roy Ngerng, that's for sure. He might gain legally and financially which could be meaningless but the erosion of his leadership and his party that follows will have a telling effect of his party's chances at the next general election in 2016. PM Lee has unwittingly made the hitherto little known Roy Ngerng into something of a hero by his imprudent action of taking out his defamation suit against Roy. There is a Chinese saying: What is gained cannot indemnify the loss.(得不償失).