How do you talk to a gynae who has opposing political views from you?

What has politics got to do with baby? In my case, a lot; and it’s because I’ve inadvertently got myself a gynae who regards me and my husband as his sparring partners in political discussion. My husband and I were waiting for SF Loh in the consultation room 2 days ago, while he was moving from one room to the other. After more than 5 mins, he finally came in with his usual cheery hello and “how are you” greeting. Upon sitting down, instead of asking me how was the pregnancy, it was one of the weirdest question I had ever received, “so, has he made any more statements? (Huh??!!! Who???) How can he talked about Wei Zheng? Doesn’t make sense!” (Ooohhh, right!!) Thus begun the 15-min banter and monologue on politics.

Loh was referring to the maiden mandarin parliamentary speech of Chen Show Mao, member of parliament (MP) from Workers’ Party. But first I have to back track here. In a way, it was my “fault”. It all started with me trying to encourage my fellow Singaporean contacts to think carefully about the political system in this country prior to the general election in May this year. I prepared an email with a list of questions on governmental policies that I wanted them to consider their implications on the country and people, which I then sent en mass to a whole bunch of people that included Loh.

Anyway I didn’t think much about it until during an embryo transfer procedure shortly after the election, when Loh suddenly brought it up. He first complained about his MP (who’s known to be an arrogant bastard) “this XXX is so arrogant! Talks to people like they’re stupid. I wanted to tell him, if you talk some more I’ll vote for the other party.” Then he continued with his political views which basically disagrees with mine, and also revealed that he’s a new citizen (someone whom our great government will described as a “foreign talent”). After the presidential election in August, he came over to me and asked, “so Maria, you must be one of the 25%.” (Yes, I was a supporter of Tan Jee Say, anti-PAP candidate.) I retorted back, “and you must be one of the 35%!” (Supporter of the ruling PAP candidate, Tony Tan.)

So whenever Loh has a chance, he will start the political topic with me, and will needle me on my views, particularly my admiration for Chen Show Mao. To my American readers, this is similar to the clash between a Republican and a Democrat supporters. That day was no different. Loh was basically dissing Mao’s analogies from Chinese history, dismissing as irrelevant to compare the PAP government to Tang Taizong (唐太宗), second emperor of the Tang dynasty, who was known to have presided over the golden age of the dynasty. His reasoning was that the emperor murdered his elder brother and forced his father to give up the throne. So it’s also irrelevant to compare WP to Wei Zheng (魏徵), the wise chancellor appointed by the emperor. In the same breath, he also dismissed Sylvia Lim’s (another MP of WP) parliamentary speech on the merits of Bhutan’s gross domestic happiness. My husband and I were greatly amused by him as he rabbled non-stop in a funny lecturing tone, particularly about one historical figure mentioned in Mao’s speech, something about the person dying from poverty, had to eat tree roots or something in his last days. I couldn’t help blurting out, “you know your Chinese history!” and he replied, “of course!” To tell the truth, I was a little stumped by his 5-min monologue because I’m not very knowledgeable in Chinese history, and my husband fares even worst. I actually googled for info on those historical figures later to verify what Loh said, and yeah it was true about the emperor, but that doesn’t distract from the fact that Wei Zheng was a wise chancellor who dared to criticize the emperor’s bad ideas and provided sound advice. As for that root-eating figure, I’m not exactly sure whom Loh was referring to, maybe Chen Duxiu (陈独秀), but no way in hell am I gonna admit to Loh and check with him.

We had some difficulty trying to interject his monologue with our comments. But we managed to, particularly when he joked that if WP took over the government there would be a workers’ revolution (劳动革命) and he could be sent to the labor camp for re-education (劳改), and the people would end up riding the bullock carts. (Hello! This is not the Chinese communists taking over from Chiang Kai Shek’s rule of China. What nonsense is that?) And he actually continued saying can you imagine having to take the bullock cart. I told him we could copy the Chinese’s mode of transport in the 1980s’, which was the bicycles, and that would be more environmentally friendly. “Har?? Bicycles?” “yes, it’s good for your soul.” At that, he laughed and replied, “bicycles bad for fertility.” “Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter for you any more.”

But one of his most incredulous remarks was that Singaporeans are whiny when they complained about the subway breakdowns during the past week. (There were 3 breakdowns within 4 days last week with last Thursdays’ incident being the worst in history. And these are happening to a “world-class”
transport system. In fact breakdowns have been happening for quite a long time already but always ignored until last week’s disastrous and embarrassing event.) My husband reminded Loh that according to news report, the transport regulators admitted that the last time checks were done on the subway tracks was 10 freaking years ago, and the damaged tracks also damaged the trains, so much so that 13 trains had to be taken out of service when the subway company, SMRT, had to do an overnight checks on all trains and tracks last Saturday. Even Loh had to admit there was serious negligence.

My husband joked to Loh, “come to the light! Leave the dark side.” I think that will be quite a challenge, but my husband thinks we can re-educate him. Yep, the bourgeois definitely need that.

After like 15 minutes of “heated” discussion, Loh finally said to me, “I think you should have the scan now. I’ve ‘kacau’ (needle) you enough.” Now the attention was focused on where it should be, and thank God baby is doing pretty well, developing nicely at 16weeks and 4 days. The ultrasound scans Loh did were not as clear as what Lady Marianne showed us the last time. We still couldn’t see the gender of the baby. Loh told me I have to go for a detailed scan 3 weeks later and the gender should be known by then. That will be done at Thomson medical center, since he’s moving over in January. He claimed that he was initially not keen to move but TMC offered him a pretty good package after some negotiation. I told him, “so now you’ll finally get your first Lamborghini.” He laughed and said no lah, he was still a cheap deal, and should have asked for a McLaren (Mercedes). When my husband asked him if he is brought into TMC to turnaround the tarnished reputation of the fertility center, he admitted he would be taking charge of it. (Thomson was embroiled in a scandal early this year in an IVF screw up. The sperms were mixed up and the ovaries of an IVF patient were fertilized with sperms from a stranger.) Loh told us he feedback to the hospital that the current fertility center is too small, and they would be setting up a bigger facility at Novena Square. Apparently the cost will be competitive. Well it has to be, since Thomson’s patients do not receive governmental subsidies, unlike those in KKH.

The consultation finally ended almost 30 minutes later, though time spent on baby was like 5 minutes only. In fact I got so distracted by the talks on politics and Loh joining TMC that I totally forgot about asking him questions on childbirth. To those patients who were waiting behind me in the queue, it wasn’t my fault.

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