Health Minister “不三不四”? (Neither here nor there)

by Leong Sze Hian

On 29 January, the Ministry of Health (MOH) organised a dialogue with the Health Minister, with Mayor Dr Amy Khor as the moderator.

Right from the very beginning of the dialogue, when a healthcare worker asked whether Medisave could be used for cardiac rehabilitation because they could not afford the $20 or $30 per visit, the minister’s response was about how much he enjoyed his cardiac rehabilitation and how some people could afford to pay the fees but could not afford the taxi fare.

On the question of means testing, the minister’s response was that it is no longer to help the poor but was to “deal with a future problem”.

The minister then said that the expensive non-standard antibiotics used in C class wards could potentially be subsidised, but that this would have to be done through some complicated scheme that involved means testing.

When someone asked about providing medical leave and benefits for taxi drivers for their contribution to the economy and tourism trade, the minister’s response was that they were self employed.

When a social worker asked whether MOH could work with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to ensure that employers did not discriminate against people with chronic illnesses, like renal failure patients, the minister’s response was to talk about the mentally ill.

On integration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Western Medicine, the minister’s answer was somewhat confusing – he said that in China many TCM doctors had Western training and could order X-rays. On the other hand, in Nanjing, he discovered that TCM and Western Medicine could not mix. The result was “不三不四” (“not three and not four” which means neither here nor there).

So, was the minister answering the questions asked?

Was he kind of “不三不四”?

Please watch the video to decide for yourself.

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