Friday assaults

I took someone to the Emergency department of Khoo Teck Puat Hospital on Friday, 25 November 2011. We arrived at a little after 1 p.m. and after much waiting for consultation, injections, x-rays and consultation again, we were more or less done by about 5:30 p.m. The doctor advised that the patient should be warded for at least one night for observation.

I do not know if the doctor noticed that her own hospital staff had put up a huge sign in the Emergency department itself, sometime in the morning, before we arrived. Yup, it’s the picture above, with the words “Our wards are full.”

Since the patient was independent enough to wait for a bed himself, I left at about six. At 8:30 p.m. he phoned me, saying the nurse had just told him there was no likelihood of a bed freeing up tonight. They were going to send him to another hospital. He decided to discharge himself instead.

It was fortunate that his case was not life-threatening. What about patients who were more seriously ill?  What about new accident cases arriving by ambulance — or are they now being told to go somewhere else?

This is not the first time I am writing about it. You can see previous articles here, here and here. Khoo Teck Puat was only opened last year and was supposed to represent some spare capacity but already the bed crunch appears to be nearly permanent. The roll-up banner proves it. It’s apparently needed often enough to be cost-effective to have one made!

It will be four long years until the next general hospital (in Jurong) is ready around 2015 and then another five years before the planned one in Sengkang. Given our rapidly aging population, the situation is going to get worse.

* * * * *

I had dinner in a coffee shop Friday evening while rushing to my next appointment. The woman whose job was to clear tables lost her balance as she walked past me and several dirty plates crashed onto my table and hands. Fortunately my order had not yet arrived, otherwise I would have lost my dinner too.

Off to the toilet I went to wash my hands, and my senses were assaulted. The floor was partly flooded with brown water and a terrible pong came from the cubicles. Luckily, I only needed to wash my hands and could do so without stepping too far in. Nor did it take longer than I could hold my breath.

I see in today’s Straits Times that yet another campaign is being mounted to improve Singapore’s worst-kept secret: that we natives do not know how to use modern toilets. The newspaper reported that only 52 of the 1,300 coffee shops here are accredited under the Happy Toilet rating scheme. Not that I have any idea what the Happy Toilet scheme is, but 52 out of 1,300 is a miserable 4 percent. Yet, if already 4 percent managed to be accredited, the standards must be quite lax.

National Environment Agency chief Andrew Tan was quoted by the reporter saying the campaign would be

introducing more education materials to improve toilet-users’ habits, and getting food centre operators to hire only cleaners accredited by the agency. ‘We are talking to the big food operators and hope they will provide a good example,’ said Mr Tan.

— Straits Times, 25 Nov 2011, Clean-up for coffee shop toilets, by Feng Zengkun

It so happens that I have a photo of common bad habit, that of throwing tissue paper everywhere. Toilet pipes are wide enough for solid waste, but not wash basins’ nor urinals’. Yet goodness knows how many Singaporeans chuck tissue paper into these with total inconsideration. I’m sure they know tissue will only lead to choked pipes from the simple fact that they don’t do the same thing at home. Choked pipes will lead a cascade of other sanitation and hygiene problems.

What is wrong with Singaporeans?

* * * * *

In tomorrow’s newspaper will be the Law minister’s statement that Section 157(d) of the Evidence Act should be repealed, which will make the court process less unfriendly to victims of rape and sexual assault. And high time too. It is very difficult for a woman to confront her attacker in court; it is even harder when the defendant can use the opportunity to drag out her sexual history in an attempt to discredit her.

The section in question says:

Impeaching credit of witness

157.  The credit of a witness may be impeached in the following ways by the adverse party or, with the consent of the court, by the party who calls him:


(d) when a man is prosecuted for rape or an attempt to ravish, it may be shown that the prosecutrix was of generally immoral character.

The word “prosecutrix” tells you how archaic it is.

Channel NewsAsia, in its report, said that women’s rights group

AWARE took issue with the phrase on the grounds that it was based on an outdated concept that only “chaste” women should be afforded legal protection.

The group believes that the moral or immoral behaviour of a woman in general has no logical link to her credibility or to whether she consented to sexual intercourse in a specific case.

— Channel NewsAsia, 25 Nov 2011, Section of Evidence Act that can discredit sexual assault victim to be repealed, by Sara Grosse

Agreeing, Law minister Shanmugam said: “That a women’s sexual history would show whether she is of moral or immoral character and if she is sexually promiscuous, then she is immoral and therefore she should be less likely to believed, I think that’s frankly repugnant.”

Explaining why it was time to repeal the section,

Mr Shanmugam said the Evidence Act, which is based on the Indian Evidence Act of 1872, was using the English common law of that time… and that such views should not find any expression in Singapore’s law.

— ibid.

Now, isn’t that what People Like Us and large number of equality-minded Singaporeans have been saying about Section 377A? It’s a direct descendent of the Labouchere Amendment passed by the UK parliament in 1885. It was repealed in Britain 44 years ago in 1967. All other advanced Commonwealth countries, such as Canada and Australia, have done likewise.

Shanmugam — earn your pay.

14 Responses to “Friday assaults”

  1. 1 JW 26 November 2011 at 13:57

    I had encountered something worse. Not in a coffee shop toilet, but an MRT station toilet.

    The button for flushing the toilet bowl had yellowish phlegm all over it. Don’t know which idiot spat onto it.

  2. 2 Sgcynic 26 November 2011 at 17:00

    “What is wrong with Singaporeans?” I don’t know. I would ask “What is wrong with Singapore residents?” Then again perhaps Singaporeans share a large part of the blame – they don’t care enough about people and property outside their now valued $500k units (note units, not homes).

  3. 3 spursian 26 November 2011 at 17:14

    We are just a bunch of selfish inconsiderate brats. Just look at how we throw used serviettes and leave our mess at food court and fast food outlet tables, waiting for people to clean up after us. Disgusting.

  4. 4 Yujuan 26 November 2011 at 23:12

    Very simple, we are mostly descendants of uneducated farmers, coolies and fishermen from China, india, etc, so it’s in our DNA to lack graces, coupled with our forefathers having to fight for survival, would consider oneself first, and others outside our family and homes, as outsiders not of our concern.
    Without the existence of imported foreign workers to clean up our public loos and public places, our country will resemble dirty slums like those in our neighbouring countries.
    Singaporeans have a long way to go, our deplorable standards are also being multipled by more lower classes immigrants of the same background.
    Of first world class only in our homes and condo grounds, outside being dirty and stinky is none of our responsibility.

    • 5 Peter Mak 27 November 2011 at 12:00

      I can’t tell whether the first sentence is meant to be sarcarstic. If it isn’t – please consider whether Australia’s crime rate is much higher than those of other countries.

      Also, I agree with Sgcynic above that the question now is no longer “What is wrong with Singaporeans”, but “What is wrong with Singapore residents”.

    • 6 R 28 November 2011 at 14:17

      I dearly hope the above paragraph was written as satire, because there is no DNA, no ‘survival mentality’ or immigration clause that says all immigrants must be uncouth/dirty/stinky – the ‘foreign talent’ we try so hard to woo are *also* immigrants; does it make a difference because they are mostly white?

  5. 7 Anonymous 27 November 2011 at 21:48

    traveling around the world , s’pores public toilets are not the worst I ‘ve seen. But I have always questioned ,if people make such a mess at a public toliet, do they do the same at thier home??

  6. 8 Chanel 28 November 2011 at 11:49

    Khoo Teck Puat Hospital was built 10 years late.Former health minister Khaw promised to build it more than 10 years, but only did so after the 2006 GE. Hospitals cannot have above 80% AVERAGE occupancy rate, otherwise many patients would find a bed unavailable frequently. Last year, my dad was left in the operating threatre for hours (late at night) because there was no ICU bed available. Had I not complained profusely to hospital staff, he would have several more hours for his bed.

  7. 9 Hazeymoxy 28 November 2011 at 21:42

    Ah! Gotta love SG’s plan – more educational materials, more campaigns, more nauseating TVCs…I digress. We’ve had these educational materials for years. And years before the influx of new residents too. What changed? Let me think…hmmm…nothing!

    I’d love to see someone design a system in which any dribble on the floor or seat or any unflushed bowls would lock the person in the cubicle till they pay $5 for sanitised wipes to clean all the mess up.

  8. 10 james 29 November 2011 at 15:51

    It’s not just a Singaporean problem. I work in an investment bank in London and staff here spit gum into urinals all the time.

    • 11 poseph 30 November 2011 at 15:33

      The “someone will clean up after us mentality” is ingrained into Singapore. Just look at the fast food places like McDonalds. In all my travels around the world, Singapore is the only place where patrons do not throw their garbage away after eating. Instead, we have armies of old aunties clean up after our used trays.

  9. 12 crappy 30 November 2011 at 23:27

    The truth is we have toilet campaigns and even a dedicated web site, and the VVIPs are led to believe all’s well and clean in Singapore. However we have filthy, dirty toilets – even the ones we used in India a week ago were much cleaner!

    There’s s huge gap between what our government seems to see and say and reality.

  10. 13 Anonymous 4 December 2011 at 20:18

    “Yet goodness knows how many Singaporeans chuck tissue paper into these with total inconsideration.”

    That’s nothing. I had once seen a man squatting over the hand basin and crapping into it because the cubicles were all occupied.

    Other users were nonchalantly washing their hands in the basin right next to him.

  11. 14 Al 23 January 2012 at 14:22

    The Maid Will Clean It Up.
    That’s what’s wrong with Singaporeans.

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