“It is clear that the more politicians play with healthcare, the worse the health of the nation,” said MP Dr Puthucheary ( Parliament Debate)

  Janil Puthucheary

Made a speech today in Parliament about healthcare, about politics, and politicians. Went a bit too long (sorry!), here are some key highlights, will post the rest later:

Our healthcare system has delivered good outcomes, but we can always do more.

We need to invest in an expansion of services and manpower. We need to develop an ecosystem that integrates research into education and practice. We need to improve on the job training. On the ground it looks like that is exactly what we are doing.

But we must keep calm, check the facts, look at reality and not just make irresponsible and inaccurate claims that our system is bad. We must have a far-sighted, clear-headed approach. We must avoid going down the road of politicising healthcare. The more politicians play with healthcare, the worse the health of the nation.

What would the increasing politicisation of healthcare look like?

It would consist of sound bite politics, like calling active ageing a joke, about pointing to corridor beds, when these are not reflective of our overall healthcare outcomes.

It may progress to attacking spending on healthcare instead of addressing the success we have. If we are a healthier nation while spending less, that must be a good thing, surely?

It can be recognised by the presence of intellectual dishonesty, in only comparing the benefits of your proposal, with the risks of your opponent’s

It can be recognised by politicians taking pot-shots at easy targets, not discussing outcomes or consequences.

 It is using anecdotes to create fear and anxiety, telling carefully selected stories of unusual situations to persuade people that everything is bad.

It would look like ignoring the hard work done by our healthcare workers, and the excellent health and healthcare outcomes that we as a nation have achieved, and will continue to achieve.

It is not enough to say you are supportive of good policies and good governance in general. Debate and a diversity of opinions are not in themselves sufficient to help us navigate difficult choices in the future. What you do with that difference in opinion is critical. When you agree with someone’s decisions 9 out of 10 times, but focus your energy on that one point of disagreement, that is self-serving and confrontational. When you fail to acknowledge the good, when you avoid discussion of consequences and trade-offs, when you spend a whole speech attacking one point you disagree with and fail to support all the other points you should agree with, when you incite division in the name of diversity, when you silently support xenophobia in the name of nationalism, these are not the markers of good politics.


 To agree with someone else’s policies is not compliant politics. If the policy is good, and achieves its outcomes of a better life for citizens, then attacking it does not generate better politics. If the government has a good policy, then the civil service is not being compliant by supporting it. They are serving the best interests of our nation.

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Comments from the net :
  • Was waiting for this post to share with my healthcare colleagues! Really…we have been getting haters challenging us about healthcare. It’s sad that we put in so much, don’t get to eat, drink, even going to toilet, so that we can clear the patient as fast as we can.

But they don’t understand that different patients needs different chair time with the doctor, caring time by the nurses and no one can predict who will need more or less. But totally agree that healthcare spending is tough to gauge! And BOOOOO to xenophobia! Nurses are nurses no matter where they are from.

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  • Excellent ! Excellent ! The speech was an eye-opener for opposition party’s leaders those who promote politics of hatred. Thank You Mr. Janil and I salute you !

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  • All the rancor and division will destroy Singapore’s 1st world status. The politics if hate and division never worked. Look at the recent example in the US with the last two presidents. That’s all was accomplished. US: from first world to third world and in free fall as the politics if hate and division takes it’s toll

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  • well say Doctor only ground people know well the suffering of Medical care

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  • Highlighting that we have a good healthcare system is not harping about it. We have good public service officers in MOH and staff in the hospitals who are always looking for ways to improve the way healthcare is delivered to Singaporeans. When compared with many other countries, especially western developed nations, we rank among the top for healthcare provision, but I must say that affordability of healthcare is something we must look keenly into. So far, I have no objections with what Dr Janil has said, I take it to be valid and factual information.

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  • Let opposition suggests what is the perfect healthcare policy and see whether how many loopholes we can drill into! Sama Sama!

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  • Fair point that our system is not the best but it is not the worse either. Sometimes we need to appreciate what we have then work together to improve upon it.

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More Readings :

1.   ‘Don’t politicise S’pore’s excellent public healthcare system’

2.   MP Dr Janil Puthucheary and NCMP Gerald Giam had a verbal sparring match over the issue of MediShield in Parliament

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