Friday, January 02, 2009

The Old and the New

The New Year in Singapore brings something good and something not so good, depending on who you are. First the good news (why must the bad always come first?).

The ban on smoking has now been extended to cover all multi-storey and basement car parks. Why couldn't they include open air car parks too? After all, trees in open air car parks need carbon dioxide, not carbon monoxide. Help save the tree, dammit! But then again, we don't want smokers to have to rent a boat out to sea to smoke, right? Let's remain compassionate. Anyway, they can't smoke in non-aircon public buildings either (that's what the authorities mean when they state Shopping Centres, right?). Lift lobbies, markets, playgrounds and exercise areas (which I take to include all path for walking and running (hey, walking is a form of exercise too) are included too. And oh, anywhere within 5 metres of the entrances and exits of buildings are no-no-land. I suppose that means that you can lean on or hug the walls of these buildings and smoke away happily. This extension of the banned areas is good news for non-smokers, bad for smokers. Now will they stop smoking? No, they'd rather go onto the roads 5 metres away from the buildings and add vehicle exhaust fumes to their cigs smoke. That will mean more will contract lung cancer and whatever other ailments related to pumping smoke into your lungs on a regular basis. Certainly bad news for smokers, which leads to the bad bad news below.

The bad news? The government is going to charge more for B and C class wards in its Hospitals. That's what means testing leads to, generally - unless you are dead broke. Between the two - being dead broke and having the means, the choice is clear - be broke, but don't let anyone find out that you are broke in name only. Like someone who moved millions to dollars to HK SAR and went to jail for it. Singapore's laws are just as tough, if not more so.

So the upshot is, if you smoke, don't be rich. Otherwise, you'll have to pay through your nose, pun not intended.

Otherwise, have a Happy New Year.

Image: Author: Pedro Jose Perez

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