Story 1:

A friend’s mom passed away a few days ago, and I had wanted to go to the funeral wake but mutual friends weren’t sure if that was a good idea. That’s because, among the Chinese, it’s believed that it’s not auspicious and even bad luck for a preggie lady to attend a wake. But I don’t believe in such superstitions. Still my husband is not in favor of me going, not because he’s superstitious but because he doesn’t want me to get affected emotionally. He feels that it’s important for me to maintain a positive and cheerful mood at this time.

Anyway I know of someone who also went through the death of her mom last year. The latter had lung cancer a couple of years ago which went into remission. The day before she died, she told my friend that she didn’t feel well and had coughed blood earlier. My friend advised her to see the doctor, which the mom told her she would if she still didn’t feel better. The next morning, her dad called her in a panic after he found the mother collapsed on the kitchen floor covered with blood, apparently it happened during the night. My friend called for the ambulance before rushing to her parents’ house. She was shocked to see a lot of blood on her mom’s body and the kitchen floor. Her dad had carried the mom onto a chair but she was already dead by then.

After the medics arrived at the scene, they called the cops immediately. The police officer wanted to arrange for an autopsy but the family members were adamant that wasn’t to be done. To the traditional Chinese, having an autopsy means the dead wouldn’t have eternal rest and it also castes suspicions on the family. Besides the autopsy would delay the funeral. So they tried explaining to the cop that the old lady was not feeling well before she died and it could be the lung cancer that killed her. He told the family members that they had to have a death certificate from a doctor to certify that the lady died from illness to avoid an autopsy. An aunt knew somebody working in a funeral parlor who then arranged for a doctor to take a look at the mom. He came, did a cursory check, went through the medical records and certified her death from lung cancer. For that he was paid a sum of money. The cop was given the death certificate and the mom’s body was released for the funeral.

According to my friend, she suspected her mom wasn’t feeling well for some time before she died. But her mom had refused to go to the hospital for follow up. She related an incident when she brought her mom to the hospital for a check up for dementia, on a pretext of something else. The mom suspected from the questions the nurse asked her, and scolded my friend in front of everybody. At the car park, she swore never to step foot into the hospital ever again. My friend admitted that her mom been through a lot of pain and discomfort during the chemotherapy for the cancer, and she got pretty sick of the hospital. So it was really unfortunate that she didn’t reveal her condition until it was too late.

Anyway my friend was plagued by how her mom died since no one truly knew the cause. She called up the oncologist who treated her mom and told him what happened. He thought she might be suffering from a case of serious stomach ulcer which went undetected. My friend accepted that in order to move on. I know a number of old folks have some sort of phobia or intense dislike of the hospitals, like my mother-in-law who undergone an operation more than 20 years ago and had a traumatic experience at the hospital. But not going to the hospital despite having an ailment (and worst if it is a serious one) is also a problem in itself. Truth be told, such irrational fear is a psychological problem. The consequences of not seeing a doctor can be devastating not just to the patient, but to family members.

Story 2:

Yesterday a preggie friend met up with some other friends at a cafe at Wheelock Place. She ordered an ice blended drink, and as she was sipping it she felt something weird in her mouth, something “plasticky”. She spit it out and a friend picked it up and it cut her finger. Turned out it was a piece of glass!!

The cafe manager was alerted and he explained that perhaps one of the glasses was chipped and the piece fell into this particular glass. And he offered to give my friend another drink on the house. Though she accepted but she was also worried. The ice-blended drink was well blended and no ice bits in it, but she was still worried if she had inadvertently swallowed any small pieces. I assured her that it’s possible there might not have any additional glass pieces in her drink, and besides any such small pieces are unlikely to have caused serious damage to her body. Likely scenarios is that they would pass out in the poo. But I suggested to her to consult the doctor since the poor girl was really worried.

She told her mom who was really pissed, and she went straight to the cafe to inform the manager she was going to lodge a formal complaint because of the risk and danger the glass piece could cause, particularly to a young child or old folk. I told my friend to keep the receipt as evidence, and inform the cafe that she was going to see a doctor about this and to charge the expenses to the cafe. I agree with her mom that this is totally unacceptable. I’ve seen restaurants and eateries using chipped utensils, and it makes you wonder if some of the broken pieces might have been inside some food or something.

Story 3:

My friend, Pauline, went for a job interview for an Admin/Accounts Assistant role some time ago and got the job. The company, a small local enterprise, was desperate to have her on board as the job was vacated for some time. So she went to work despite not receiving the job offer.

She went through the accounting books and found that the company doesn’t seen to be doing well. The directors (comprising of family members) are paid 6-figure amounts, though the staff (about 17 of them) are not well paid. At the end of the day, she was given the offer letter and got a shock. Instead of the accounting job which she thought she was taking on, her job title was Office Manager taking care of inventory, administration, HR, Accounts and works relating to import and export. Her salary was less than S$2,000 (US$1,600), and she would get only 7 days of annual leave and 7 days of medical leave a year. Not only that the company capped her medical fee at S$30 (US$24) for each visit to the doctor. and no specialist treatment allowed, and she also had to work on Saturdays for half day. So Pauline quit the next day.

It’s shocking the kind of compensation and benefits that this particular local company is offering to their workers. It’s not surprising that they hire a number of cheap labor, like the designer is a Filippino, and there’re staff from China. I understand that this is quite a common practice among the local enterprises, and yet they claimed that they had to hire foreigners because they couldn’t get locals to work for them. Can you blame the locals who have to support their families and mortgages etc? Unfortunately the government also abetted the local companies by allowing huge numbers of foreigners entering the country. According to official statistics, Singapore citizens account for 64% of the total population, which means more than 1/3 are foreigners.

(Update on 16 May)
I met up with Pauline the other day who finally revealed to me that the salary offered to her by the local company was S$1,400 (US$1,120). Pauline thought that was pretty low and asked if there would be pay increment after probation, the boss told her that he could offer her S$1,700 ($1,360), but no increment after probation. Now we know why so many local companies hire foreigners, cuz they’re willing to work for little money since they have no mortgage, no children to feed, and being single they don’t mind slogging.


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