INT.OFFICE - PANTRY - LATE AFTERNOON
Ah Tan, Ah Lim and Ali were having coffee break at a table. As Ah Khaw entered the pantry, he smiled and walked over to pat Ah Tan on his shoulder.
AH KHAW: Ooi! Ho say bo?
AH TAN: Still the same lah! Hey sit! Sit!
Ah Khaw pulled over a chair from the nearby table and sat between Ah Tan and Ah Lim.
AH LIM: Here for meeting ah?
AH KHAW: Yah lah! What else? Work?
The four men laughed and sipped their coffee and tea.
AH TAN: Hey Ali, you're looking kinda tired. Didn't rest well during the weekends?
ALI: No lah! My wife lah! She wanted to go JB to get this coffee table, so we ended up spending half a day there! Actually going to JB is not bad lah, can top up groceries and petrol, but the causeway jam, headache lah!
AH KHAW (nodding in agreement): Tell me about it! I was there last weekend as well, and the jam was really horrendous! Their new checkpoint is really such a failure!
AH LIM: Wah, Ah Khaw, you went JB shopping too arh?
AH KHAW: Did a bit of that with my family, but the main objective was to visit this site where my friend was planning to build a 200-bed nursing home.
AH TAN: A 200-bed nursing home? Wow, that's one huge project!
AH KHAW (chuckling): Well, if he can afford it, why not? But when I asked him about the costs involved, man was I shocked! The land and construction cost is so low that my cost of putting up just a polyclinic here is probably more than his cost of putting up this 200-bed nursing home in JB!
AH LIM: Aiyah Ah Khaw, it's JB what! It is supposed to be cheaper than Singapore! If not we won't so willingly jam all the way there for petrol, food, groceries and DVDs...
AH KHAW, AH TAN, ALI (together): Shh...!
Ah Lim covered his mouth and smiled apologetically for the last word spoken.
AH KHAW: Anyway, I think we should encourage more Singaporeans to send their elderly there, you know? with the monthly cost of keeping a resident in a private nursing home in Singapore, you can stretch it easily to pay at least 2-1/2 months of nursing home care there. And If any medical problems cropped up, the elderly could still be taken back to Singapore by ambulance. Sounds good to me.
The other three men sipped their coffee and tea, trying to digest Ah Khaw statement before commenting.
ALI (putting his coffee down): Alamak, cannot lah! With that kind of jam on the causeway, before the elderly could reach our hosipital, die half-way on the causeway already lah!
AH KHAW, AH TAN, AH LIM (together): Choi!
AH LIM: No lah, Ali, this one not our problem right? It's the causeway problem! Then who's causing the jam? The JB Checkpoint! So if anything happens, cannot put the blame on us lah!
The other three men nodded in agreement.
AH KHAW: In my opinion, for most Singaporeans, visiting a relative in a JB nursing home would not pose significant difficulties. That friend who's building the 200-bed nursing home said many people are visiting their relatives only weekly, even in nursing homes in Singapore. Of course I don't deny that many may still visit daily, but since quite a significant number visit only during the weekends, then what is the difference in putting them in JB or here?
AH TAN: Yah loh! Somemore can do shopping at the same time when visiting them at JB, why not?
ALI: But like that then the causeway jam lagi jialat man!
AH KHAW, AH TAN, AH LIM (together): It's not our problem! It's the JB Checkpoint!
Ah Tan sipped another mouth of coffee and looked down, rubbing his chin as he was thinking. He then abruptly stopped and looked up.
AH TAN: Hey Ah Khaw, this might not work, you know? Nursing homes in JB will not be subsidised by us right? And I don't think it is fair for our people to use their Medishield or Medisave or whatever there since it is not a local health institution right? Then does that mean the JB nursing homes can actually be even more unaffordable for the poorer people?
AH KHAW (slapping Ah Tan on his shoulder): Yes, you're right! Good catch! Hahaha... In fact, the JB option is not for the poor, who are already heavily subsidised here in Singapore. The target audience should be those middle-income families who need to pay for the care themselves. So now they can choose between JB and Singapore!
AH TAN (nodding slowly): Sounds reasonable then...
AH LIM: But Ah Khaw, I don't think this is right...
The other three men stared at Ah Lim, astounded by his otherwise view.
AH LIM (without pausing): Why do we want to give away our business to JB? Singaporeans are already going there for groceries and petro, and what not. For these, there is nothing we can do. But for this case, we should make it our business instead of theirs right? We shouldn't just tell Singaporeans that "Hey, you can go over to JB for cheaper nursing homes", we should build the nursing homes ourselves in JB!
The other three men were still staring at Ah Lim, this time trying to digest the whole lot of words that he had just thrown onto them.
AH KHAW: Hmm... Actually I think Ah Lim has got a point. Maybe we could meetup with some of the medical groups like Healthway, Shenton and Raffles and invite them to start up some nursing homes and other medical facilities there in JB...
AH LIM: And not forgetting NTUC! To provide an even cheaper option!
AH KHAW: Sounds cool!
ALI (hestitating): But brother... there is still one problem...
The other three men paused to listen to that one problem that Ali was considering.
ALI: The crime rate at JB macam will only go up and will not go down lah! Only this morning I heard from news that this bodoh actually tried to board a SBS bus and attacked the driver with a parang! Like that how to send those old people over?
AH KHAW, AH TAN, AH LIM (together): It's not our problem! This is JB's problem!