Or what you need to know about what happened in Parliament
That bed crunch
It’s old people lah. More of them over the years taking up beds in hospitals and spending more and more time there. Well, that’s the answer given by Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on why the bed crunch happened. For evidence: the proportion of patients aged 65 and above admitted to public hospitals rose from 28.6 per cent in 2006 to 33.4 per cent last year. Now you would have thought everyone knew Singapore was greying. And why use 2006 as a year of comparison? For dramatic effect? What was it last year? The proportion couldn’t have suddenly jumped! Also, he didn’t address the question of why this happened at the year end? Is it because their families don’t want them disturbing their festivities?
Solutions proposed: More beds of course and a “transformation’’ of the healthcare system away from a hospital-centric one. That’s been suggested over the years – to focus on primary care and step-down care. Perhaps, a reason people like staying in hospital is because it is heavily subsidised and they can use Medisave and Medishield. Seems that the current health financing should be skewed towards the other two ends of the system to get patients out of acute hospitals. That’s one for the Medishield Life review committee.
So was it drink? The G said there were “indications’’ that alcohol was one thing that fuelled the riots in Little India but would rather leave it to the courts to ascertain. Seems the House can’t quite decide on the right way to control alcohol consumption and sales. Workers’ Party’s Pritam Singh seems to be advocating a lifting of the restrictions in the area or that the rules be applied “across the board’’. Is he worried that the rules looked like only Indian nationals were being targeted? So the misery should be spread around to keep everybody dry? Anyway, the police are getting more powers to control the alcohol restrictions. For a year. And only in Little India.
So was it abuse of foreign workers? The G said there was “no basis’’ for concluding that this was a cause of the riot. For evidence: the Manpower ministry helped some 7,000 foreign workers with difficulties last year, or less than 1 per cent of the 700,000 work permit holders. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) referred about 640 cases of mistreatment, or less than 0.1 per cent of work permit holders. “I therefore find it puzzling as to how some individuals can so quickly conclude or criticise that there is widespread and systemic abuse of the foreign workforce; or that these were the reasons for the riot,” said Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin.
Anyway, more recreational centres with amenities such as remittance services and supermarkets will be built to add to the current four centres for foreign workers. No, don’t know how many. Don’t know when or where.
The good news: ERP rates along the Marina Coastal Expressway and the East Coast Parkway, which goes as high as $6, will be revised. This was the G’s response MP Liang Eng Hwa, who pointed out that traffic speeds on the two expressways exceeded 65kmh at certain times of the day. Thank you, Mr Liang! Now when will this happen? In “due course’’. Seems the LTA conducts a review of traffic conditions on roads and expressways with ERP gantries every quarter. Let’s hope the ERP rates are coming down sooner than that.
As for the MCE, you’ve heard all the reasons for the jams in the initial days of operations. They remain the same: Not enough pre-publicity and not enough signs. Not because of design.
“I think that was a premature conclusion; if indeed there had been a design flaw, we would likely have seen congestion not only on that particular morning, but on a number of mornings to follow and perhaps even in the evenings as well,” said Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew.