Monday, November 5, 2007

Mee Siam Mai Hum and Phantom Trains in the CTE

PM signals tough measures ahead

He says more initiatives needed to improve health care, transport By Goh Chin Lian

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday served notice that some major policy measures which may be tough or 'painful', like means testing for hospital care and further steps to deal with car ownership and usage, are on the cards.

He cited these as some of the initiatives that will be taken in coming months to help Singapore tackle problems.

Noting that it is time to implement means testing in hospitals, he said this is one way to make sure lower-income Singaporeans get a higher subsidy than those who are better off.

The Health Ministry is studying the idea and will consult the unions when it has firmer ideas on what to do, he told some 1,000 unionists and guests at the National Trades Union Congress National Delegates Conference.

He was speaking on the first day of the three-day conference at Orchid Country Club in Khatib. The conference is held every four years to chart the labour movement's future direction.

In a speech that outlined the unions' role in economic progress and government policy-making, Mr Lee said Singapore must keep adapting to change to stay ahead, which means, at times, more major policies.

Health care is one area where many initiatives are being rolled out to improve the system and ease fears about its affordability.

Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who was present at the conference but declined to speak to reporters on the issue, gave notice in April that means testing will start in a limited form in public hospitals within a year.

He said then it may include checking a patient's finances if he exceeds the average five-day stay in hospital.

In step-down facilities like nursing homes, patients get a 75, 50 or 25 per cent subsidy if their family income divided by the number of family members is $1,000 a month or less. Public hospitals have no such income criteria.

Mr Lee said yesterday the idea is to target government subsidies at the lower-income group 'who need these subsidies most'.

'It's not easy to do. It's very sensitive... How to implement it fairly and simply, without making hospital care unaffordable for the middle-income group?'

The unions, he noted, are also working towards a portable medical benefits system that it has talked of for nearly 10 years. 'It's something which we should pursue with some urgency,' he said.

Land transport is another major policy area under review.

Recounting his drive to the conference that morning, he said: 'I was watching the trains going down into town along the Central Expressway. Every carriage was packed. I think we need to improve the public transport. We've got some ideas.'

Roads also need to be free-flowing: 'Driving out from town, the roads were fine. Driving down in the opposite direction along the CTE was not so good.'

There is no easy way to improve road traffic and 'painful measures' like Electronic Road Pricing and certificates of entitlement are 'necessary and we have to do more with them'.

'We are working out schemes and I think they'll be ready to be worked out... early next year, in January.'

Mr Lee said that, on all such major issues, the Government will keep in close touch with unions. He added that ministers Lim Boon Heng and Lim Swee Say will speak for the unions and 'ask the other ministers very tough questions'.

This is another “mee siam mai hum” incident by our PM.

Recounting his drive to the conference that morning, he said: 'I was watching the trains going down into town along the Central Expressway. Every carriage was packed. I think we need to improve the public transport. We've got some ideas.'

Sometimes, these anecdotes are really getting to me as it shows how detached our ministers are from the grassroot level. If you don’t see any MRT, please don’t recount anything.

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday served notice that some major policy measures which may be tough or 'painful', like means testing for hospital care and further steps to deal with car ownership and usage, are on the cards.

Whenever our Prince has something to say, the peasants will suffer. The only positive news that we will ever get is before the elections when our Prince hands out money to buy our vote as mentioned by him in the 2006 GE. After which, we have bitter pills, painful and tough measures to endure with. Then we have our ministers deciding that they need pay raise to cope with all these and give them a 100% pay jump.

The dreaded means testing is coming to haunt the middle class soon as it is introduced for hospital. Maybe we would see another columnist get sack for ranting about it.

25 comments:

laser eye surgery phoenix said...

You have to love how direct they can be, cut benefits and raise their own pay, yet so many people don't notice.

I must be stupid said...

LoL! Talk about helicopter vision.

peasantsgetowned said...

Well... There was an uproar. But the Peasant Land system is so unique, there's no way of stopping it. First, they decide what they want to do. Then they debate it. No matter what happens in the debate, the decision is final cause things have been decided before the debate. It's UNIQUELY PEASANT LAND!

Molly Meek said...

Does he mean that he was watching trains when he was driving (or driven by chauffeur) along the CTE?

I must be stupid said...

I suppose so, molly.

peasantsgetowned said...

Yes, he meant that he saw the MRT when he was being driven. Now we know our PM is like Superman as he has X Ray vision.

spyer said...

Come on, come on, people. Our PM does not really have time to look at trains. When he has free time (as in the car), he needs to think of ways to "fix" and "buy" things.

George said...

'I was watching the trains going down into town along the Central Expressway. Every carriage was packed. I think we need to improve the public transport. We've got some ideas.'

Top of my guess what these ideas are:

Since the ERP for roads is working so admirably
(according to govt)IT WOULD BE IMPLEMENTED FOR TRAINS AS WELL AS BUSES, I.E., IF YOU ARE GOING TO TOWN OR WHATEVER LOCATION DESIGNATED BY THE GOVT DURING PEAK HOURS PASSENGERS ON TRAINS AND BUSES WILL PAY A PREMIUM OF SAY 5%-10% OVER OFF-PEAK FARES. SO IF THERE IS A GENERAL INCREASE IN FARES, THE PREMIUM WILL BE CORRESPONDINGLY INCREASE.

YOU DON'T THINK THAT CAN HAPPEN? MARK MY WORD, ANY SCHEME IN WHICH THE 'MARKET RATES' ARGUMENT CAN BE USED AS JUSTIFICATION WILL BE SEIZED UPON BY THE GOVT. IT'S CONVENIENT, IT DOES NOT REQUIRE THINKING, WILL RAKE IM MORE MONEY, IT'S THE WAY TO GO AS FAR AS THE GOVT OF $INGAPORE IS CONCERNED.

Molly Meek said...

I don't know which part of the MRT line he could have seen, but I'm impressed that he was close enough and observed long enough to know that _every_ carriage was full. Though the damning thing is the implication that prior to his x-ray observation, he didn't know that MRT trains are that packed....

I must be stupid said...

Hi george,

You mean implement an ERP for human traffic?

Hi molly,

He thought that mee siam contained hums! Give him a break!lol

Anonymous said...

Mr. PM, please tell me which part of the CTE u can see the train roll by. I can only see the train when driving along Lentor Avenue. I have been living outside Singapore for many years and yet I seem to know more about Singapore than u. The high living must have kept u out of reality in Singapore.

peasantsgetowned said...

Well... What i am guessing is that there is a train depot at Ang Moh Kio.

Hi George,

HAve you ever thought of the reason why EZlink was implemented despite the old system working well? Have you notice how easy it is for them to increase fares nowadays then before?

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