Singapore has one of the best Hospitals in this region. It is one of the favourits of medical tourists, who are willing to pay the high price of good treatment that our hospitals are known for. On the other hand, locals feels that hospital charges are too high, but the government stance is that the true cost of medical treatment should be reflected so that our scarce resources are economically, i.e. rationally, allocated. The government does offer subsidies to different classes of wards in its 'restructured' government hospitals such as Singapore General Hospital and Changi General Hospital.
I was in Changi General yesterday evening to visit a friend who, unfortunately, had suffered from a massive stroke and was, to all intents and purposes, being kept alive with a few tubes through his nostril and mouth. It is sad when this happens to an 80+ year old man. You just feel helpless over the whole thing and the issue of AMD (Advanced Medical Directive) flashed through my mind. As I left the 'C' class ward, I couldn't help noticing a fish tank beside the receptionist/nurse station. Colourful fish always add to the 'live' amidst the suffering and dying, balancing somewhat the specter of doom. But in this particular tank, there was only one fish - a fish that was about 2/3 the length of the tank. I don't know much about fish, but I have seen some expensive fish before, and that fish looked like an Arowana. I remarked half-jokingly to my companion that I now understand why hospital treatments in Singapore are so expensive. It wasn't only the high-tech facilities, it wasn't just the doctors (although I understand the ward doctors get paid a pittance), and it wasn't the medicine only. Its the fish too, stupid.
Now why does a 'C' class ward in a government restructured hospital see fit to keep an Arowana in its ward's fish tank? Surely not for the kitchen, nor the patients, and certainly not for the nurses and the doctors. Arowanas stay quite still in water near the surface, almost like it is dead. In a hospital, such a lifeless-looking fish added to the gloom. But it did look expensive to me, but my companion, who knew a thing or two about fish, told me that this species of Arowana is not the expensive type.
Nevertheless, the thought still lingered in my mind: why is a 'C' class ward in a government restructured hospital keeping an Arowana in its ward's fish tank? Does it believe, as the Chinese do, that the fish will bring wealth , fortune and prosperity to the ward and the hospital? This will be a first in Singapore. Or is there something new for me to learn here?
See also: Arowana Club