Even the gynae got distracted

Politics is a distracting topic, because most of us have our own views which we want to voice out. Even gynae Loh, who claimed to be an expert in distraction, got distracted himself over political discussion. Both he and I were basically distracted by my husband on Friday, during our regular consultation meeting.

We thought Loh would bring up the upcoming Hougang by-election (which was finally announced last Thursday to be held on 26 May) upon seeing us. But strangely he didn’t, and instead he went straight to my Group Strep B test result. Unfortunately I’ve to take antibiotics due to bacteria infection, and have to have antibiotics drip during labor.

As I proceeded for my ultrasound scan, my husband asked Loh what he thought of the election. To our surprise, he wasn’t aware of it. It turned out that he was away, very recently, in Australia to visit his kids and hasn’t got time to read the papers after he returned. So my husband briefed him on the latest status, and told him that unfortunately I can’t attend the election rallies cuz the bun in the oven will be popping soon (even though I’m willing to take a risk but my husband said no). I jokingly suggested to Loh that he could help the ruling party (PAP) candidate, Desmond Choo, by announcing free ObGyn services to the Hougang residents if Desmond wins. After all he had already started his tactic to ‘win’ votes by providing free porridge and subsidized hearing aids for the old folks long before the election date was announced. Loh said to me, “then you should vote for him, you’ll get free Teochew porridge.” “I don’t take Teochew porridge. Anyway you don’t have to worry about losing money over the free service, because Desmond Choo is going to lose. It’ll be an empty promise.” He quibbed, “no lah, I will offer free pap smear for Hougang residents.”

I thought Loh would perform the cervical exam on me to check for dilation, which was what my friend, Natasha, thought too. In fact she wanted me to give her the low-down as she wondered if I would end up kicking him in the face. He didn’t do it and I’m not sure if it was because he got distracted or it wasn’t time for it yet. And I didn’t ask for it, because I read in an article from Mayo Clinic that it’s not necessary if the healthcare provider knows where the baby is presenting from the tummy check. The ultrasound scan showed baby Alex to have grown bigger, at almost 2.8kg (6 lbs); though I still couldn’t figure out the images Loh showed us. But Alex is doing well and everything seems ok. He’s still as active as ever.

But time spent on scan and discussion on Alex was probably like a couple of minutes. I can’t remember why but Loh started telling us of a conversation he had with a Belgian medical officer (MO) recently. He started by asking us if we knew how high the income tax was in Belgium. According to him, it was a staggering 70%! “I was talking to this MO who was just doing the usual shifts, not making a lot of money. His wife told him they should try to make more money for the family. So he decided to take on the graveyard shifts to have extra cash. After working for some time, when he received the income tax statement he found that he had to pay more taxes and his net pay was less than what he earned when he was slacking off. He was so shocked!” My husband and I don’t buy the story. My husband told Loh that the top marginal tax rate may be 70%, but it’s not on the entire salary, and so the MO couldn’t have taken home less than the time when he didn’t work as hard. I thought Loh didn’t get the full picture either; but he insisted that he did and that was what was told to him.

Basically the discussion went from Hougang election to the issue on higher income tax for the rich, which as expected Loh disagrees with. He kept spouting the right-wing ideologues of high income tax will cause economic hardship and the rich will leave the country. My husband reminded him that the economy is driven by the middle-class, and that the rich tends to save more than spend, and when they spend, it’s on property, cars and even speculative products, which drives up inflation and doesn’t contribute to economic growth. Loh isn’t convinced and insisted he is right.

I also don’t remember why but Loh brought up his one-time MRT trip again. And that he was so impressed that he even considered (possibly for one New York second) that he could take the train rather than drive to work. “The station was clean and nice, and the train ran well. Nothing wrong with the train service.” My husband asked him, “did you take it at 2pm on a Sunday?” He denied, “no lah, I actually went to Bishan MRT station and took it during peak hours, 8 plus in the morning. I didn’t have a busy schedule that morning so I thought I try it. The station was so crowded, and I had to squeeze with others inside the train. Came to work slightly late.” Basically he couldn’t resist comparing what he been through in Malaysia with his life in Singapore and needless to say, he thinks Singapore is much better. My husband asked him, “if the train service is running well, why are SMRT and LTA (Land Transport Authority) spending S$900 million to fix the train system?”

Anyway Loh commented that he got completely distracted by my husband and realized he should focus on me and my pregnancy questions. The thing is I didn’t have any urgent pertinent question to ask him. So towards the end of the meeting, Loh asked for my blood type just in case I need a transfusion during childbirth. Unfortunately I have a new identify card now which doesn’t indicate blood group unlike my old card. I suggested that I could go to a GP clinic to have my blood type checked. Loh commented, “this is not an opposition clinic, you can have the blood test here.” (Roll eyes to heaven!) It turns out even the KKH record doesn’t have my blood group info, despite me having gone through the D&C procedure there. So during my next visit to Loh which will be this coming week, I’ll have the test done.

When we went to make payment at the counter, Lady M was there. This time her bump was more apparent. I congratulated her on the pregnancy and asked her about it and turned out she was already 6 months pregnant. She has a small tummy like I used to. In fact my husband thought she looked better now after putting on pregnancy weight; in her pre-pregnancy days, she was just skin and bone. My husband also asked her, “so I suppose you can self-consult your own pregnancy?” She laughed and said pretty much, but she goes for detailed ultrasound scans at the TMC test clinic and she hasn’t done it for the past 1.5 months. My husband joked that she could even self deliver the baby herself, but she said she wouldn’t do that because she might not be able to handle the pain.


6 thoughts on “Even the gynae got distracted

  1. It is possible as this affects the level of benefits given, so on net basis, he may end up paying more.

  2. PC

    “work in Belgium, your social security entitlements (such as family allowance, pensions, reimbursement of medical costs and work incapacity allowance) depend on agreements, if any, signed between Belgium and your country as well as on European legislation. Entitlements also depend on your personal situation and vary according to your nationality and employment status (salaried worker, self-employed, on secondment, retired, etc.)”

    In most situations subject to certain income thresholds, family benefits may either be reduced or stopped entirely which may have applied to the above MO.

    This applies to most OECD countries welfare systems.

    Hope this helps

    • Thanks for your explanation on the benefits in Belgium. But taxation is progressive, and welfare benefits can’t possibly be more than the extra earnings. For instance, the first $100,000 may be taxed 10%, the next $100,000 may be taxed 30%, then the next $100,000 may be taxed 70%. The effective tax rate is only about 37%. So when the MO lost the benefits after he made more money from doing graveyard shifts, would the cost of the loss be more than the extra earnings? It doesn’t make sense if it does, since an MO would have made significant amount of money even without the graveyard shift and wouldn’t be receiving a lot of benefits.

      Sent from my iPhone

  3. PC

    It makes sense, because his benefits stopped or he did not get the tax refund he expected as you have to remember it as a pay as you go system unlike here in Singapore.

    Further, the only way, you can avoid the higher taxes legally would be thru going to tax specialists.

    Anyway, since this is a general blog and you are free to review the different tax systems, all I can say , is that because the MO is a salaried employee, he gets the short end of the stick unless he structures his income correctly as independent contractor.

    This is where tax specialist get paid and the MO also gets to claim the cost as tax deduction.

    Have a good weekend and all the best to new and brighter phase.


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