The letter to the Forum page (see below) was sent a few days ago.
As the editor is taking a long time to decide if he should publish it, I feel that I should publish it now while it is still newsworthy and still fresh in your minds.
Personally I feel that this is an example of how bad laws still get passed through our parliament.
I am not arguing that all should agree with my views about transplant medicine.
So one and all- We do not have organ-trading. You can come to sunny Singapore where you get serious money for your kidney. But I say again, we do not have organ-trading.
The Letter to the Forum Editor
I have deep reservations about the latest legislation which allows for payment for living kidney donors.
Although Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan had categorically assured parliament that the new law did not seek to legalise organ trading, many including myself remain unconvinced.
If we truly only wanted to reimburse donors for their altruistic acts, and not let this become a backdoor for organ trading, the following safeguards should have been present:
1. Foreigners should have been excluded
Only local donors should be allowed onto this scheme as we can then monitor them within our system and either reimburse them for healthcare expenses related to the organ donation through direct payment or through lifelong medical insurance coverage. Compensation for loss of earnings and other more difficult computations can also be decided by a neutral committee.
To allow foreigners into the scheme opens a Pandora’s box as it is impossible to know what a foreign donor does with the money back home. He could literally put the whole lump sum down on some gamble and have nothing left when he needs it most.
To include foreigners is also a tacit admission that transplant medicine is big business that Singapore cannot afford to ignore.
2. Compensation details should be available before parliament vote
The details about mechanisms for quantifying fair compensation should be present before MP’s were asked to vote on what must have been a tough moral choice. These details must surely be the difference between the money being “compensation” rather than “profit” for the donor.
To be asked to vote for something which lacked any specifics at all might cause our parliament to be misconstrued as a “rubber-stamp” as many may consider voting for this legislation in such a way to be irresponsible and akin to writing a “blank cheque”.
I fear that Singapore’s reputation as a medical hub with a “high ethical standard” has been seriously eroded by the passing of this legislation.
Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan