On why she did not tell Parliament that her appeal on behalf of her resident was successful when clarifications were sought of her, WP He Tingru said that she needed to check her records.
Ms He Tingru first brought up in Parliament (28 Feb), the case of a resident who could not afford the cost of medications for his chronic conditions. In her speech, she asked:
“After all, what does it say about us as a society that our senior residents come to us and tell us, as a matter of course, that they have requested for their medication dosages to be cut down because they cannot afford to pay for the full dosages that doctors prescribe to them to treat their medical ailments?”
She also questioned ‘who we are as a people and what values we stand for’.
The resident had sought Ms He’s help at the Meet-the-People session.
On 4 April Dr Koh Poh Koon, then Minister of State for Health, sought clarifications from Ms He Tingru so that he could check and ensure that the necessary support was rendered to the resident.
By then, the CPF Board had already approved flexibility to the resident for use of his MediSave. Ms He’s appeal on behalf of her resident was filed on 24 February. The CPF Board replied giving their approval on 16 March. Ms He Tingru was fully aware of this as the approval letter sent to the resident was also copied to her.
Yet when clarifications were sought from her on 4 April in order to help the resident, she did not reveal that the CPFB had already approved the appeal for her resident. The next day when she forwarded her appeal letter to Dr Koh, nothing was mentioned of CPFB’s approval.
Why didn’t He Tingru tell Parliament that CPFB had approved her appeal?
Ms He’s explanation was that she needed to check her records because the CPF letter was a physical one. This explanation is troublesome. It would imply the following:
(1) Ms He had not read the reply from CPFB despite receiving it more than 2 weeks ago. This is unlikely because if Ms He was very concerned for her resident, then top on her mind would be the outcome of her appeal on his behalf. Naturally then, when the letter arrived from CPFB, she would eagerly read it to know the outcome of her appeal.
(2) She read the letter but had forgotten what the letter said. Hence the need to check her records. This is too incredible. It is hard to imagine Ms He not remembering what she read, especially when the matter warranted a speech by her in Parliament.
Ms He only managed to forward her appeal letter to Dr Koh. Apparently, checking her records needed a couple of days. Whether she managed to eventually find the reply is anybody’s guess but it never got forwarded to Dr Koh.
All in all, Ms He Tingru proved to be less than transparent, less than honest.
However, when the appeal was successful, she did not follow up with an update in Parliament, not even weeks later. She chose silence.
Her explanation fails miserably and raises questions about her honesty and sincerity.
By her silence, she has allowed the aspersion she cast on our society and on the government to remain. She painted the picture of a society where seniors are forced to cut down on their necessary and essential medication dosages simply because they cannot afford it.
Implicit is the suggestion that this state of affairs is due to a government that is not in touch with the ground or is uncaring.
The experience of her resident, however, says that the opposite is true.
As Dr Koh Poh Koon pointed out in Parliament:
“It is understandable that members of the public may sometimes not be aware of the many different avenues and means by which government agencies render assistance to them.
However, as MPs, we can give them assurance that in our society, those in need will always be provided for.”