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.
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.