A Singaporean netizen, Foong Swee Fong, spoke out on Facebook about how Singapore has turned into a “private limited (Pte Ltd)” government, claiming that the Government is running “profit-seeking companies”.
Mr Foong wrote in a Facebook post on 1 October noting that the city-state’s public hospitals have been “divided into geographical clusters”, and operated by private companies.
“I am writing this because I am rather vexed that the Government is running profit-seeking private companies, because, one way or another, state resources will be used, but it is not accountable to the public,” he remarked.
“The private companies are Singapore Health Services Pte Ltd (SingHealth), National Healthcare Group Pte Ltd (NHG) and National University Health System (NUHS).”
Mr Foong explained that both SingHealth and NHG’s shares are being held by the Ministry of Health Holdings Pte Ltd (MOH Holdings), while NUHS is jointly operated by MOH Holdings and National University of Singapore (NUS).
“In turn, MOH Holdings is privately owned, wholly or partially, by the Government,” he noted.
“As these are private companies, they are therefore funded privately, either by private owners, the Government or profits from running the hospitals, or all three.”
Mr Foong pointed out that the three private companies are not obliged to disclose their financial statements to the stock exchange because they do not issue shares to the public.
He also described the companies as “profit-seeking entities purporting to provide a public good” as they operate public hospitals that provide essential medical services to every Singapore citizen.
“In time to come, the people may have to pay an arm and a leg, for essential medical services. Certainly, something is not right and there is a conflict of interest,” Mr Foong asserted.
Nevertheless, Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs) are still eligible to obtain subsidies from the Government.
He added that Singapore’s standards of health care are “good” because these companies are “subject to market forces”.
However, Mr Foong said that there may be other corporate or individual shareholders who could potentially be benefiting from the state resources besides from the Government itself.
“If there are, who are these shareholders?” he questioned.
Mr Foong also spoke about the impending MediShield Life Premium hike to 35.4 per cent next year, saying that the decision to increase premiums should not be made “unilaterally”, adding that it needs to be debated in Parliament.
“Medishield Life has to be transparent with its accounts and MPs [Members of Parliament] have to scrutinize all financial assumptions, including basis for so-called medical inflation,” he stressed.
MediShield Life is a national health insurance scheme administered by the Government statutory board Central Provident Fund (CPF).
Mr Foong continued, “As the entity representing the people, Medishield Life has a duty to ensure that the people get their money’s worth for every cent that they pay in insurance premium. Yet, Medishield Life and MOH Holdings both report to the Government.”
“What is to prevent the Government from getting Medishield Life to increase premiums so that MOH Holdings can have a better bottom line?” he asked.
Mr Foong concluded his post by saying that Singapore citizens are living in “a business-run society” where the public good is being “privatized to seek maximum profit” which only benefits “a small segment of society enormously”.
“The people have to be ever vigilant,” he remarked.