Sunday, March 27, 2011

Another Bum Deal

Chair of choice for expensive bums
When it comes to his own money Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan was prepared to spend only $8 for his surgical bypass operation, but if taxpayers are paying, he'll splurge $575 for an office chair without so much as batting an eye.

Apparently Khaw ordered 150 sets of the Herman Miller® Celle® for office use in National University Hospital some 25 years ago. This came to light when the New Paper queried the Ministry of Manpower's decision to purchase 472 similarly expensive chairs. Khaw said cheaper alternatives will not last as long. Strange, that was the same reason disgraced monk Ming Yi gave when asked why he bought Mont Blanc pens.

Khaw also claimed that he, like MOM, got a good bargain as the Celle® chairs supposedly retail at $1,200. Xtra Designs's managing director Lim Choon Hong, would not offer the same price to others, even for enquiries of 10 sets. Earlier in 2005, Xtra also gave NTU a special deal for another top of the line model:

From: aehchua@xxxxxxxxxx
Date: 13 Nov 2005 20:13:36 -0800

Dear colleagues,
I refer to the above press article in the Sunday Times dated 13 Nov 2005 and would like to update you on the background of the matter.

1. The retail price of S$2200 quoted by the journalist for a Herman Miller Aeron chair is exaggerated and may be the list price before discount. The price of this chair offered to NBS is much lower around S$900. The Herman Miller chair has a warranty period of 12 years compared to a normal office chair with a 1 year warranty period and an average life span of 4 years or so. Hence over the 12 year period, the capital outlay of a Herman Miller chair is about the same as the outlay for 3 normal office chairs required for the 12 year period. In addition these chairs have the advantage of ergonomic design for health and posture and is intended to give faculty and staff a more healthy and comfortable work environment.

This staff member stood/sat loyally by the university's decision:

(1) All NBS staff were told the price and certain contract details about the chairs the day the news broke in the Straits Times.
(2) K-mart can try to sue. The fact was I bought such a chair, my back hurt, I replaced the chair.
(3) It is exam time right now. At the moment, I'm doing two things:
(1) marking and checking exam scripts (very boring), (2) trying to dig up old posts from this newsgroup on the conflict between the YPAP and other netizens circa 1996.

Cecil Chxx

Meanwhile, an orthopaedic surgeon in Mt Alvernia Hospital said, "You don't need an expensive chair to prevent back problems. You need a chair that is wide enough, and is set for your eyes to be around the height of the computer. Ergonomic chairs are meant for those with back problems caused by poor sitting posture."

MOM claims Xtra offered ergonomic design, durability and value for money, skipping their other sales pitch, "When it becomes a designer icon, its worth goes beyond its function." In other words, the minister fell for the snob appeal.


  1. Wah liao, when is the a bum deal also a good one? Apparently when you're a PAP MP! That cost alone can only build a makeshift office made of tinsheet for MP Chiam. Day light robbery and they have cheeks to sue the monk and counter that singaporeans are lazy thieves who wants welfares! If they are not only expensive talents but also bumgenius now. And I have to eat at non aircon hawker center? I will surely give them my De-Vote-tion!!

  2. If such chairs are damn worth it - it's funny they're not standard SOP for ALL civil services???

  3. Next perhaps GOLDEN taps?...worth it since they won't rust...furthermore good investment in GOLD.

  4. Our young and future leaders in the schools(learning institutions)
    should deserve similar(quality)
    Their physical condition and health are just
    as important.

  5. Our civil servants must really be pampered and spoilt for choice, I only mean those who are charged S$8 for a heart bypass operation, or those who can afford cooking lessons in Paris and those who can afford to pay US$100,000 to hire a famous wedding consultant for his daughter's wedding ?

    Just wondering whether the latter case was dropped because of the coming elections ?

    Only makes one wonder where their monies is coming from especially when we have one who can bill take our PAP Govt for a ride with fictitious services ?

    We all damn know that PAP can be very hypocrite if they choose to be ?

  6. Timeline for MP Elitist lifestyle and governance

    - Million dollars salaries
    - Haute cuisine cooking classes
    - $300k designer wedding for their daughters
    - Herman Miller designer chairs for bummers
    - More butlers for figure-head President
    - Mercedez custom-made sedan chair for touring the wards

    What's next? Tharman wants a private jet so he can fly back/forth to do his part-time jobs in SG & IMF? MPs should all have a Lexus car because is built for safety and assassination-proof? I think therefore IPad too? All these while the poor and needy are deprived of their jobs and foodstamps. Are they still with the main street or have they become fat cats aka Istana Hills bankers.

  7. If anyone can identify the bride's father - then we will know which civil servants are making too much moolah! You can rule-out David Chin.

  8. "Apparently Khaw ordered 150 sets of the Herman Miller® Celle® for office use in National University Hospital some 25 years ago." This can't be right since the Aeron was only released in 1994, which is 17 years ago (

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