Thursday, February 28, 2008

Letter about Parkway Novena Hospital

Hi Friends,

I owe The Straits Times' editor a treat. I have given him so much extra work!

Recently,whenever I write a letter to the ST forum, he/she has to:
1. take out French words
2. take out financial concepts like "triple bottomline" and "corporate social responsibility"
3. rewrite most parts leaving only some ideas behind
4. take out the fizz so as to avoid too much controversy ( such as putting the government on the spot)

Well done editor! You have succeeded on all counts!

I wonder if I leave French words out in the future, I can be spared more of the editor's scissors?

Anyway, Letter A is the letter printed in ST Forum today (28 Feb 08) and the actual letter is specimen B.


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

A: Printed on ST Forum (28th Feb 2008)

Reconsider 'single-room only' plan for hospital

THE news of Parkway Holdings' plan to build a new private hospital on its freshly acquired site in Novena raises a few questions.

True, Parkway Holdings, like all businesses, must try and maximise profit. But we are also living in a new, enlightened economy where the bottom line is not only financial responsibility, but environmental and social as well.

The implications of the company's winning bid of $1.25 billion - more than double that of the second- highest bid - and its plan to offer only A-class single- room beds and better are obvious: It intends to cater only to the super-rich and its patients can expect to be charged supra-normal rates.

Yet, the payback for the company will be derived not only from the patients found by its new hospital, but from patients of its present stable of hospitals at Gleneagles, Mount Elizabeth and Eastshore.

Not all private hospital patients are super-rich. Not all patients admitted to the company's hospitals are wealthy. Many are ordinary Singaporeans who patronise these hospitals because the specialists with whom they have built a relationship over a period of time now practise there.
These patients are mostly middle-income earners who scrimp and save to afford treatment at Parkway's hospitals.

Parkway Holdings should reconsider its 'single-room only' policy for the Novena hospital. Having double- and four-bedder rooms, like other hospitals, will make health care more affordable and increase choices for our patients.

There should also be such provisions in the tender process to allow more Singaporeans the chance to afford private patient care and help relieve the pressure on public and restructured hospitals.

Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan

B: The letter I actually wrote

Dear editor,

We follow the news about Parkways’ new Novena hospital with interest and concern.

Profit maximization the raison d’etre?

We understand that Parkway is a publicly listed company and up till the recent past, it is accepted that the raison d’etre of all business corporations was profit maximization. “Make hay while the sun shines” so to say.

However the buzzword for the “enlightened” new economy are concepts like “corporate social responsibility” and the “triple bottom-line” where emphasis is not just on financial results but also on environmental and social responsibilities.

With Parkway winning the Novena tender with a “must-win” bid of $1.25 billion for the plot of land and its subsequent proposed strategy of catering to the super-rich ( it will have the single A-class room as its lowest room option), the implications are obvious.

Implications for Singapore’s healthcare- More Inflation

This above-market price (a miscalculation to some analysts) would be earned back by charging patients supra-normal rates. The payback would come not just the new hospital’s patients but also from patients of its present stable of Gleneagles, Mount Elizabeth and Eastshore hospitals. Parkway has already implied that the existing hospitals’ charges will be raised when Novena hospital is completed.

Where does this new development lead Singapore’s healthcare to? Further inflation- what else?

Not all private hospital patients are super-rich

Not all patients that are admitted to Parkway’s hospitals are rich. Many are ordinary folks who come to these hospitals as their trusted specialists practise there. These mostly middle class patients “scrim and save” when they need hospitalization treatment. Another pull factor for these patients is the shorter waiting time compared to the government hospitals which are simply overcrowded.

Parkway’s win may encourage monopolistic behavior as they now control almost all the premier private hospitals.

No other tender condition but “highest bid wins”?

We are also surprised that “highest bidder wins” seemed to be the only winning criteria. Does not it make sense that as the land sold belongs to the state, the tendering authorities should have stipulated some basic conditions such has having rooms that are affordable for the majority of Singaporeans? Why should Parkway be the only beneficiary? How about the people?

Some questions that require answers

1. Will Parkway reconsider its “only single room” policy for the Novena hospital. Having double and 4-bedder rooms like everywhere else will make healthcare more affordable and increase choices for our patients.

2.What has the government done to prevent anti-competitive monopolistic practices?

3. Should not more land be released for hospital development?

Would the relevant authorities and entities please comment?

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Burma fools the world (again)

Hi Friends

Burma makes a fool of the international community once again.

It now has a draft constitution which more or less says, “ Anyone who is named Aung San Suu Kyi cannot participate in the 2010 elections.”

Okay, it actually stipulates that anyone who is married to a foreigner (even if the latter has long died) or who have children who are not Burma nationals cannot take part in domestic politics.

All these tailor-made laws and constitutions have a déjà vu effect about it.

Deja vu effect (or history repeating itself)

Now, let me think.... what does all this tinkering of the country’s laws remind me of?

Hey, isn’t it a real coincidence that the Malaysian elections has been hastily fixed for early Mar 08? Do you guys think early elections was called because the Malaysian economy is booming and the Barisan Nasional is confident of getting an overwhelming mandate from all the ethnic races- including from the Indians? And the electorate has forgotten how well their Health Minister Dr.Chua has performed ( in and out of bed)?

Or do you think that former deputy PM Anwar Ibrahim’s automatic disqualification till later in Mar 08 has anything to do with the election date?

Before I am accused of being arrogant and of belittling our ASEAN neighbours, let me be fair and state that such dastardly actions are not unknown on our own very shores. Really!

But I am getting old and my memory is fading... was it at our general elections when the polling date coincided with the disqualification period of some opposition politician? Someone please jolt my memory- was it JBJ ( again) or someone else?

Anyway it just goes to show that in the politics of this neck of the woods, the incumbent party always tries all tricks ( legal or otherwise) to stay in power! Like someone famously said, their job is not to help the opposition win!

ASEAN’s reaction ( or not) to Burma’s action

Going back to Burma’s situation, I do not think that Foreign Minister George Yeo’s statement,” But this is their own country, this is their own history, what can we do about it?" is particularly helpful to the cause of justice.

He could at least say, “Hey, if you continue like this, I don’t "friend" you!” or in diplomatic-speak, “ Burma’s actions are anachronistic and ASEAN and the rest of the international community cannot be expected to stand idly by while you continue to .... blah blah”

Sigh, in the real world, bad people continue to do bad things and the rest of the world just look away!

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”
Edmund Burke

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan
By S. Ramesh, Channel NewsAsia Posted: 20 February 2008 0220 hrs

Myanmar citizens who have a foreign husband and whose children are not Myanmar nationals cannot take part in domestic politics.
This is the regulation stipulated by the country's new Constitution.
Myanmar's Foreign Minister Nyan Win gave this update when he briefed ASEAN foreign ministers at their retreat in Singapore on Tuesday, according to Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo who spoke to the media.
Mr Yeo was responding to a question on whether the Myanmar minister had given any indication if opposition leader Aung Syan Syu Kyi can take take part in the country's elections which is slated to be held in 2010.
According to Mr Nyan Win, this eligibility criteria has been around since 1974 and would be carried forward in the new Constitution.
Mr Yeo said "We (the ASEAN Foreign Ministers) expressed our views on this. It is not keeping with the times that certainly such a provision would be very odd in any other country in ASEAN. But this is their own country, this is their own history, what can we do about it?"
Separately, ASEAN's Foreign Ministers attending the informal retreat are due to spend the greater part of Wednesday discussing how members are implementing the ASEAN Charter.
Mr George Yeo, who is currently the ASEAN's Chair said, before getting down to discussions, Malaysia, Laos and Brunei will hand over documents to the ASEAN Secretary-General as their respective countries had completed ratifying the ASEAN Charter.
This brings the number of ASEAN member countries who have ratified the Charter to four, including Singapore.
Singapore was the first to hand over the documents to the new Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan in Jakarta.
Observers say a top priority for ASEAN now is to set up a dispute settlement mechanism, as spelt out in the Charter.
Such a mechanism already exists to deal with disputes in the economic arena.
Another aspect of the Charter that has drawn much interest is the ASEAN Human Rights Body.
The terms of reference for this body has to be worked out and there's a committee looking into this matter.
All ASEAN Foreign Ministers are attending the two-day retreat in Singapore, except Malaysia's Syed Hamid Albar.
He is busy with preparations for the upcoming general elections.
Mr Syed Hamid is represented by the Secretary-General of Malaysia's Foreign Affairs Ministry. - CNA/de

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Beware MSM editor's creative scissors-you read what they want you to read

Hi Friends,

Our MSM ( Mainstream Media) has a monopoly on what we get to read and hear.

For example, Specimen A below is what was edited and printed whilst Specimen B, was what I actually wrote.

It is exactly like in the advertisement where the tennis coach was telling the student's father what a physically-challenged child his son was and how the boy could be a case-study for physiology on what poor "hand-eye coordination" is about. Instead after some selective listening on the father's part, he only hears about how the boy was God's gift for the world of tennis!
(Dr.Huang: The advertisement cited is the "HEAR ONLY THE NICE THINGS...RADIO 90.5" advertisement)

Does anybody else get the impression that the recent reshuffle at the Straits Times has made the MSM even more intolerant of alternative views than what it already was? Or is it just me?

Anyway, you cannot say I did not try to speak out!

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Specimen A ( What was printed in the Straits Times forum page- 19.2.08)
All in all, we like what we hear
DESPITE Budget handouts, I'd still rather be rich than poor or middle-class. But it almost seemed good to be poor. Yet, our welfare net is not impervious enough to prevent the needy from slipping through the cracks. And some of the middle-class are still sceptical as recent hikes in ERP and university charges make these Budget giveaways seem like 'one hand taking away what the other hand gives'. Still, Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, we like what we hear and we want you to stay on.

Specimen B (What I actually wrote to the editor)

Despite budget handouts, I'd still rather be rich than poor or middle-class

The generous hongbao budget handouts amounting to $1.8B by Mr. Tharman in his maiden Finance Minister budget speech was welcome by all. However, we must see it in its proper prospective.

From the hullabaloo and euphoric articles in our main-stream media, it almost seemed good to be poor in Singapore. The stark truth is that the poor are still living from "hand to mouth" and our welfare net is not impervious enough to prevent the needy from slipping through cracks. From time to time, people still die lonely deaths behind locked doors. Their bodies are discovered only when the stench of decay became too overwhelming.Some of the middle-class are still sceptical as recent hikes in ERP and university charges make these budget giveaways seem like "one hand taking away what the other hand gives".

Still, Mr. Minister, we like what we hear and we want you to stay on. Perhaps with you at the Treasury, there is a reasonable chance that you can help Singapore reduce its Gini Coefficient. This statistical measurement of the rich-poor disparity is shockingly high.

At the end of the day, I'd still rather be rich in Singapore. Being poor (even in Singapore) still sucks.

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

TOC's mole affair - My personal opinion

Hi Friends,

Much has been said of the sordid affair about how Remy Choo Zheng Xi , could be part of a PAP-inspired counter-insurgency campaign to control the blogosphere (via The Online Citizen "TOC") in favour of the PAP.

False premises

My observation is that this allegation is based on false premises.

The main false premise is that the TOC ( and the blogosphere at large) is anti-PAP. This premise probably comes from the deep-seated needs in some readers who want to read alternative views which are grossly under-represented in the official news media.

As TOC has already clarified that this is untrue and that TOC is not anti-PAP, nor anti-establishment nor anti-government. Then it seems the matter is settled and this “cloak-and-daggersque” affair should be allowed to die a natural death.

Or should it?

Confict of interests

Some will argue that Choo’s role as a paid worker ( albeit as an honorarium) brings him in conflict with his job as TOC’s editor. Come to think of it, his job as TOC’s editor (where he may now and again allow to be published some very anti-PAP stuff) may prevent him from working wholeheartedly for the PAP MP. I wonder if the MP knows about this? She may not be getting the full $500’s worth!

In all probability, Choo has a clear conscience and feels that he can be impartial as a PAP MP’s paid assistant as well as be TOC’s editor. I am not so sure that it is possible.

Except in Utopia, any MP’s job is to make the electorate happy so that he/she can get re-elected. This occurs in all constituencies so that the party with the most MP’s ( which is inevitably the PAP) gets to be the government of the day. So, even Choo would agree that his monthly $500 is part of the deal to help the government continue being the government the next time the GE comes around. I know the string (that links all this ) is very long- but that is the crux of the matter.

I am not for one second saying that Choo is despicable (or wrong) for helping the PAP MP. No, if he so believes that the MP is good and that the PAP is great, then he should do more for the MP or party (and ask for more pay in the process).

Way out

May I suggest that Choo continues with the TOC as a writer and let Andrew remain editor and hence having to agonise over which articles to publish ( be they pro- or anti-PAP). The alternative ( which is more painful) is to reject the honorarium and work as an unpaid volunteer for the MP whilst remaining TOC’s editor. (To most people, being paid or not makes the world of difference.)

Anyway, TOC- you guys have done great work and I will continue reading the stuff here ( even if Choo just sits on his hands and does nothing). I can be open-minded but not everyone is like me.

Before I forget, the rest of the allegations are just plain rubbish.


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Monday, February 04, 2008

Are you ready for change: What’s your Locus of Control score?

Hi Friends,

Recently I had some opportunities to do psychometric tests. One of these is the Rotter’s Locus of Control scale.

Locus of Control:

Locus of control refers to how individuals attribute responsibilities for events that happen to their lives. In simple terms, do we feel that most things that happen to us are beyond our control? That our social structure or our office hierarchy are so fixed and entrenched that nothing we do can meaningfully change or improve it? That if the government says there should be an ERP gantry on every street, we just have to take it or leave it(ie migrate) ?

Or are you someone who feels that “Impossible is nothing” ( to borrow a commercial slogan) and that if there is a will, there is a way? That the journey of a thousand miles start with the first step? (OK enough of cliches)

Generally, common sense tells us that there are factors both within and without our controls. The "within's" include one’s abilities; efforts and the "without's" fate; luck and powerful others (eg politicians; business billionaires).

People who believe that destiny lies within their own hands are deemed as having Internal Locus of Control whilst those who perceive that factors extrinsic to themselves determine their personal outcomes have External Locus of Control.

A person’s locus of control could have developed from Accumulative causes (eg childhood upbringing; social deprivation) or Episodic causes such as life-changing events like near-death experiences such as accidents or natural disasters.

Are you ready to face the facts and find out your score? Are you are an “internal” or an “external”? Be honest.

I may reveal my score later as a comment.

Best wishes and Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

PS: I just got my 100000th hit the past few days! ( and I was not hitting this blog myself!)


Rotter's Locus of Control Scale ( Choose a or b for each of the following questions)

1. a. Children get into trouble because their patents punish them too much.
b. The trouble with most children nowadays is that their parents are too easy with them.

2. a. Many of the unhappy things in people's lives are partly due to bad luck.
b. People's misfortunes result from the mistakes they make.

3. a. One of the major reasons why we have wars is because people don't take enough
interest in politics.
b. There will always be wars, no matter how hard people try to prevent them.

4. a. In the long run people get the respect they deserve in this world
b. Unfortunately, an individual's worth often passes unrecognized no matter how hard he tries

5. a. The idea that teachers are unfair to students is nonsense.
b. Most students don't realize the extent to which their grades are influenced by accidental happenings.

6. a. Without the right breaks one cannot be an effective leader.
b. Capable people who fail to become leaders hive not taken advantage of their opportunities.

7. a. No matter how hard you try some people just don't like you.
b. People who can't get others to like them don't understand how to get along with others.

8. a. Heredity plays the major role in determining one's personality
b. It is one's experiences in life which determine what they're like.

9. a. I have often found tlint what is going to happen will happen.
b. Trusting to fate has never turned out as well for me as making a decision to take a definite course of action.

10. a. In the case of the well prepared student there is rarely if ever such.a thing as an unfair test.
b. Many times exam questions tend to be so unrelated to course work that studying in really useless.

11. a. Becoming a success is a matter of hard work, hick has little or nothing to do with it.
b. Getting a good job depends mainly on being in the right place at the. right time.

12. a. The average citizen can have an influence in government decisions.
b. This world is run by the few people in power, and there is not much the little guy can do about it.

13. a. When I make plans, I am almost certain that I can make them work.
b. It is not always wise to plan too far ahead because many things turn out to- be a matter of good or bad fortune anyhow.

14. a. There are certain people who are just no good.
b. There is some good in everybody.

15. a. In my case getting what I want has little or nothing to do with luck.
b. Many times we might just as well decide what to do by flipping a coin.

16. a. Who gets to be the boss often depends on who was lucky enough to be in the right place first.
b. Getting people to do the right thing depends upon ability, luck has little or nothing to do with it.

17. a. As far as world affairs are concerned, most of us are the victims of forces we can neither understand, nor control.
b. By taking an active part in political and social affairs the people can control world events.

18. a. Most people don't realize the extent to which their lives are controlled by accidental happenings.
b. There really is no such thing as "luck."

19. a. One should always be willing to admit mistakes.
b. It is usually best to cover up one's mistakes.

20. a. It is hard to know whether or not a person really likes you.
b. How many friends you have depends upon how nice a person you are.

21. a. In the long run the bad things that happen to us are balanced by the good ones.
b. Most misfortunes are the result of lack of ability, ignorance, laziness, or all three.

22. a. With enough effort we can wipe out political corruption.
b. It is difficult for people to have much control over the things politicians do in office.

23. a. Sometimes I can't understand how teachers arrive at the grades they give.
b. There is a direct connection between how hard 1 study and the grades I get.

24. a. A good leader expects people to decide for themselves what they should do.
b. A good leader makes it clear to everybody what their jobs are.

25. a. Many times 1 feel that I have little influence over the things that happen to me.
b. It is impossible for me to believe that chance or luck plays an important role in my life.

26. a. People are lonely because they don't try to be friendly.
b. There's not much use in trying too hard to please people, if they like you, they like you.

27. a. There is too much enphasis on athletics in high school.
b. Team sports are an excellent way to build character.

28. a. What happens to me is my own doing.
b. Sometimes I feel that I don't have enough control over the direction my life is taking.

29. a. Most of the time I can't understand why politicians behave the way they do.
b. In the long run the people are responsible for bad government on a national as well as on a local level.

Score one point for each of the following:
2.a, 3.b, 4.b, 5.b, 6.a, 7.a, 9.a, 10.b, 11.b, 12.b, 13.b, 15.b, 16.a, 17.a, 18.a, 20.a,
21.a, 22.b, 23.a, 25.a, 26.b, 28.b, 29.a.

A high score = External Locus of Control
A low score = Internal Locus of Control

Locus of Control

Locus of Control refers to the extent to which individuals believe that they can control events that affect them. Individuals with a high internal locus of control believe that events result primarily from their own behavior and actions. Those with a high external locus of control believe that powerful others, fate, or chance primarily determine events. Those with a high internal locus of control have better control of their behaviour and tend to exhibit more political behaviors than externals and are more likely to attempt to influence other people; they are more likely to assume that their efforts will be successful. They are more active in seeking information and knowledge concerning their situation than do externals.The propensity to engage in political behavior is stronger for individuals who have a high internal locus of control than for those who have a high external locus of control.

Links to:
Locus of control

PS: By the Way, My score is 0 (Zero). That means I have strong internal locus of control. That means I always try to change things and will not accept that everything needs be the same.