Many Singaporean chatterers had been agogged for some time now about the reumoured amount of fees that surgeon Susan Lim was supposed to have charged a Bruneian patient — said to be related to the Sultan of Brunei.
Yet those stories would have remained just stories to be whispered with raised eyebrows between delicious sips of Dom Perignon at those super uppercrust parties. The numbers sounded astronomical even by the standards of the super rich. Unbelieveable fictional titter tatter by the standards of you and me in our middle to lower middle class ignorance.
Now, the stories are no longer stories. They are facts. As revealed in their jaw-dropping details by the Singapore media following Dr Lim’s application for a judicial review to stop the Singapore Medical Council from forming a second disciplinary committee, after the first stepped down following accusations of having pre-judged the case.
For a sampling of media reports, click susanlim.
Here are my random thoughts on Dr Lim’s bills.
First, they shed light retrospectively on the earnings stories that swirled around current Minister for Education Ng Eng Hen when he joined politics a couple of elections back.
It was said then that he took a hefty pay cut to become a politician, as his earnings as a top breast surgeon were in the million$.
There were sceptics.
Now in the light of Dr Lim’s bills for just one patient, the pay packet of Dr Ng shouldn’t be that incredible after all!
Another thought which comes to mind is thank heaven that the majority of us have access to state funded hospitals where the charges, tho going up relentlessly, are nowhere near what Dr Lim charges!
Thus her bills should help Singaporeans grumbling about ever-rising hospital and doctor expenditures have better perspective on their medical money woes!
A third thought is why this fuss about Dr Lim’s bills? Isn’t Singapore all about free market, pro choice and cavet emptor?
So, she’s a doctor and had sworn the Hypo-what’s-it oath. So what? It isn’t as if there’s a dearth of doctors in Singapore. And sick people haven’t any choice but to go to her!
If she overcharges as seems to be the conclusion of anyone looking at the face value of the bills, then won’t she go out of business quickly, since there’s competition aplenty in her skill-band?
However, if her charges match the rarity of her skills as well as her personal decision to ration them to those who can afford her, then isn’t it just like a rare old wine, available only to those willing to pay?
Thoughts along this line remind me of the October evening in 2009 when my regular dining companions and I saw her and her husband at dinner at the Shangrila Hotel in the same 24th storey restaurant where we were eating too.
Given the money she earns — on just one patient — she was obviously there as a regular diner while we were there for a rare treat. No wonder we bitched over Evian water and $120+++ for five canned lichi martinis!