|If You Have To Ask, You Can't Afford It|
On the surface, the column was a chance opportunity to cock a snook at Mahathir, by quoting the talkative cabby: "Many of his statements are actually very hurtful. It clearly shows that he does understand his fellow Malays in Singapore. He has lost touch with us."
His Malaysian passenger, a Gu Yuan You, had initiated the chit chat by engaging the cabby in Malay, claiming it would give him a sense of familiarity. The driver's reply was a surprise to him, "Actually, I have few opportunities to ferry passengers of my race, including those from Malaysia. So, of course I speak mainly English." Has the structure of the taxi-fares created another elitist socio-economic class for the privileged? An online guide to Singapore's taxi services has this blurb: "Zipping up and down the expressways and going from point to point is always more comfortable in a taxi, but this is a lifestyle that not many can afford. Thus, this enforces its symbol as an almost-luxurious way of travel."
While you ponder on the ramifications of the above curtain raiser, our knowledgeable cabby has this gem about affordability of medical care here:
"Mister, you are right (about standard of medical services). We are certainly more advanced than Kuala Lumpur. But we Singaporeans often pray that we only suffer from minor ailments. You must make sure you do not have to be hospitalised for another surgery. You'll be in trouble if you cannot pay the deposit. The hospital will not show you sympathy. I have come across one actual case whereby the patient, who was my passenger, was refused admission. We are very good in everything, except this."
So there must be a smidgen of truth in the story of the bicyclist, knocked down by a hit-and-run driver, who refused to be sent to the hospital because of his financial situation. It was making the rounds during GE 2006. What new horrors will surface in this year's election?