Minister of State Says WP’s He Ting Ru Didn’t Provide Full Facts in Parliament


Parliament spats— I mean, debates, tend to be awfully drawn out.

Back on 28 February, Workers’ Party Member of Parliament He Ting Ru claimed that seniors were asking doctors to cut down their medicine dosages because they couldn’t afford the full dosage.

“What does this say about us as a society?” she had asked then.

Since Ms He was not present for some debates thereafter, Dr Koh Poh Koon, who was the Senior Minister of State for Health at that time, sought clarification from Ms He in April.

In turn, she detailed that there was a man who was having problems paying for medication and thus asked to cut back on his medication because he believed that he couldn’t afford it. She elaborated that she made an appeal to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) on his behalf to assist in the matter.

Dr Koh: The Full Facts Were Not Considered, A Mischaracterisation of Society

After reviewing the man’s case, Dr Koh—now Senior Minister of State for Manpower—finally presented his response on Monday (4 July).

Only took four months, but at least we’re here?

Dr Koh said that the resident, whom he referred to as Mr H for confidentiality reasons, had declined his doctor’s recommendation to increase the medical dosage because of financial concerns.

He told Ms He that at no point was the suggestion to cut the dosage of his medication made, and his medicine dosage has not been reduced.

While his words are correct, “not increasing” the dosage when it’s recommended is technically a form of cutting, is it not?

Their statements aren’t mutually exclusive.

Dr Koh continues, saying that if the patient had visited the medical social worker in September 2021, as was originally scheduled, he would have learned that he was eligible for the Medication Assistance Fund (MAF) and he would have received the 62.5% subsidies much earlier.

After Ms He made the appeal on 24 Feb, the CPF board responded to Mr H on 16 March, well before her clarification on 4 April.

He said that Ms He should have known that the CPF Board would have accorded flexibility to her residents.

Sengkang Polyclinic proceeded to reach out to Mr H to arrange a meeting with another medical social worker on 14 April, and he was awarded 62.5% medical subsidies for three of his non-standard drugs.

Dr Koh added that if his doctor assesses that Mr H needs other MAF drugs to manage his condition, he will automatically receive the same subsidies for those drugs as well.


Then, he pointed out that Ms He only gave the CPF two working days after lodging the appeal, before she gave her 28 Feb speech.

“The part that is of concern to me is that Ms He cited a resident’s case in support of a statement characterising our society as one that does not look after seniors, even before the facts of the case are determined and established and before agencies have had a chance to respond.”

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Rebuttals From Both Sides

Ms He replied that the point she was driving at was that residents feel the need to “jump through many hoops” and feel “humiliated going through the process”.

She elaborated that she wasn’t denigrating any doctors or the system. She clarified that she never said the doctor told him to cut down his usage or his dosage, which is actually true.

In response to that, Dr Koh said that it was implicit in her speech that the Government is “not in touch with the ground or uncaring”.  


Notably, he didn’t address the point about the tedium of the system or how it might be difficult for some folks to receive the assistance they need due to the many processes and appeals involved.

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