Everyone, I suppose, in Singapore knows that medicine across the Causeway is cheaper, just like food and petrol. So it is natural that Singaporeans exit Singapore in droves during weekends to stretch their feet and their Singapore Dollar. Over the years, however, Johor has become less of a shopper's paradise for Singaporeans. For some time now, the prices in their shopping malls aren't too different from what you can get back in Singapore.
Petrol is still a bargain, but the Singapore government does its best to 'pursuade' Singaporeans to 'buy Singapore'. The 3 Qtr tank rule is still there. However, of late, the powers that be appears to have changed their minds. For example, Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan has famously said (in February 2009) that Singaporeans can consider putting their elderly parents in Nursing Homes in Johore. Now, Salma Khalik, ST's Health Correspondent (who reported on the Johore Nursing Home story earlier this year for the same paper) is suggesting that Singaporeans stretch their dollar by getting vaccination jabs (against streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria) in Malaysia simply because it costs much less there than in Singapore. Although Mr Khaw's name is missing in this opinion piece, it is pretty much the same point that Mr Khaw was making - there are choices for cheaper medicine, and Singaporean's should avail themselves of it, never mind that you can't avail yourself of more than a quarter tank of cheaper petrol over there. I suppose the petrol is not Mr Khaw's department. The Transport Minister, Mr Raymond Lim doesn't seem to have heard, nor is willing to hear, or if heard, is not willing to have a change of heart about Singaporeans having the choice of spending less on petrol.
By now, everybody knows that medicine in Singapore isn't cheap. That is common knowledge, really. There is a perception that, on the whole, medicine is good in Singapore. That's the premium you have to pay. But now Ms Khalik is suggesting (see Straits Time, 23 October 2009, page A2) that medicine in Malaysia, as far as vaccinations go, is just as good, you wonder why you have to continue to pay a premium in Singapore? It would appear that not only do our businesses price themselves out of the market that lead to the inevitable recessionary cycle, we, the citizens of Singapore, also get priced out of our products like medicine, which isn't exactly optional in our lives. And who are setting the prices in the medical sector in Singapore? Go figure.
I suppose we have to thank Ms Khalik for her money-saving tip, but we would also be grateful if somebody were to talk to Minister Raymond Lim about that petrol thingy.