Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Money Doctors Make

It was a matter of time before Ng Eng Hen's earnings as a doctor in the private sector would crop up in the profile high case of Dr Susan Lim. After all, both had a penchant for signing off big bills during their heydays.

According to Owain Stone, forensic accountant author of the KordaMentaNeo 31-page expert report commissioned by Susan Lim, Dr Ng Eng Hen earned $4.5 million before swapping out his surgeon garb for politics in 2001. By comparison, Susan Lim raked in $4.6 million in 2003. We don't know whether Stone had access to Ng's income tax returns, or merely extrapolated from the maiden press conference with Goh Chok Tong during which he declared his financial sacrifice to serve the people of Singapore: "You're getting a bargain for the ministers you get... I worked half as much and earn 5 times more when I was in the private sector."  (Channelnewsasia, 9 Sept 2003)

Why the sudden altruism? A close examination of the the tabulation of Susan Lim's 2002-2008 takings provide some clues. Her salary and director's fees varied from $3.2m to $334,000, as her total earnings fluctuated from $13.26m to $1.38m. That's more ups and downs than the Battlestar Galactica roller coaster ride at Universal Studios Sentosa. For Ng, since August 2004, he has been enjoying a guaranteed million dollar steady ride, plus the regular GDP performance bonuses and other perks of office. Without the twists and turns of a stomach churning career in the private sector. Susan Lim is actually saying that her practice is technically bankrupt.

Talk about wild rides. John Sculley (Pepsico 1970–1983) was personally lured by founder Steve Jobs to become CEO of Apple in 1983. Subsequently his power struggle with Steve Jobs resulted in latter being booted out by the board in 1985. By May 1987, Sculley was named Silicon Valley's top-paid executive, with an annual salary of US$2.2m. The "Sculley Era" finally ended after he was forced out in 1993. In the real world, job security is not a given.

Industry experts knew Susan Lim was betting big. One company valuation expert said the upside to her Brunei assignment was huge: "If this job had gone smoothly... there would be tremendous benefits for her reputation. With such a high profile client, her business could have gone sky high." Instead of just her pair of hands exhibited at Madam Tussuad's, her wax statue may be competing for space with the likes of world celebrities and movie stars.

There's an upside for Ng too. If he masters the art of keeping his mouth shut (no shooting off about more jobs going to Singaporeans instead of foreigners, tweaking the weightage for mother tongue languages, etc), he could take a stab at the elected presidency during his evening years. That's $4m a year for 6 years, guaranteed income from the taxpayers.


  1. What about the enormous benefits that the family members derived from people holding political office? Surely that alone is worth several million dollars a year.

  2. I have a hard time trying to take a stand on this case. Both sides seems to be covered with much shades and mud. But here's another blogger on this topic for alternative views (he did say he's a fiction writer). All said, I'm also inclined to believe there's some sort of MSM spin against her..sigh, why am I not surprised when you're an fighting a goliath ?


    She has her admirers and impartial defenders too. Personally i've watched her on TED talk recently, and it puzzled me why SG would go to such length to discredit such a rare talent like her. Given her husband is a wealthy banker, i don't think sit concerns her how much money she made. (probably her staff & keep the business thriving yes). But I can't helped think that the Regulation change by SMC truly shed some questionable lights on the whole matter. ah well..the games rich and jealous people play.

  4. The moral of the story is that politicians have a sure way of taking revenge on you by hook or by crook if one is not careful to have stepped on some powerful toes.

    In some cases, they can even have you knocked down in the middle of the night as related in a story told by one of our longest surviving detainees. so if Susan Lim has the personal surgeon of one of our 'great' leaders, it makes one wonder whether the outcome would have turned out differently ?

    No wonder people generally refer politicians as one of the most hated professions in this dog-eat-dog world. And when one professes how they love some of our politicians like GY, is it a false kind of blind love ?

  5. Tattler,
    the top 30 highest paid politicians on the planet are all from Singapore, and we know for sure ranked number 30 can comfortably beat anyone from the US, China, Japan or Europe hands down by a humongous margin.

    i can't help wondering whether Susan Lim has set a world record for medical bills issued by a personal physician to a single patient.

    perhaps netizens on this planet can collectively help look into this, see if they can name someone who can top Susan's feat in Sing dollars

    ps: Lim Wee Kiak will probably say the humongous bill gave dignity to the patient who is afterall connected to royalty, and therefore cannot be associated with cheap medical treatment?

  6. Definition of a diplomatic President.

    The ability to say and do nothing in 5 different languages.