On the way to work on Tues, 18 Aug, we were in a cab with the radio tuned to a Chinese radio station and a caller was on the line.
It was before 8 am.
The caller identified herself as a Pioneer Generation cardholder, and was recounting to the DJ (and all the listeners) her experience.
She said she usually went to the government dental clinic for her dental services but she had been persuaded by a private dental clinic that offered free dental services for Pioneer Generation cardholders.
She decided to try just for a check-up.
The dentist checked her teeth and suggested that she get them cleaned.
She asked how much would it costs.
Free, he assured her, because she is a Pioneer Generation cardholder.
So she agreed.
As the dentist cleaned her teeth, he told her that there were some cavities and he could fill them for her.
Again she asked how much it would cost.
Again he assured her that it was free as she was a Pioneer Generation cardholder.
So she agreed, and he proceeded to fill two cavities.
She was not sure how this works. Is the dentist doing this for free?
No, he assures her. He will claim from the “Pioneer Generation Card office” who will reimburse him for the services he provides to the Pioneer Generation.
So she leaves and a few days later she gets a statement from the Dental Clinic.
[Aha! I thought! Now she finds out it was all a scam and she has to pay something anyway!]
The DJ was apparently waiting for the twist in the tale and so asked the caller, “so it wasn’t free after all?”
No, she tells him, it’s free. But the statement was for 9 cavities filled, which the clinic was claiming from the government.
So she called up the Pioneer Generation Card office and asked about this dental visit, and the bill. She found out that the dentist charged $78.50 per filling and claimed for 9 fillings!
She was outraged! Nine fillings? He only filled two and cleaned her teeth.
At that point, we had arrived in office. We paid the cab driver and left, so I do not know the rest of the story.
But I was amazed and also proud of this pioneer generation woman. She got her free dental services (as advertised), but she was outraged or at the very least indignant that the government was being cheated. And that she was being made use of. Her sense of moral rightness was violated, and outraged, and she took the trouble to call the government office, find out about her case, and tried to set things right, even though she would not get anything out of it! (She got free dental work. What else would she get?)
She did not have to pay a cent for the services. She was not cheated. It was the government that was being cheated. BUT she was being used to cheat the government and she WILL NOT STAND FOR IT!
Most people might just say, it’s the government. They can afford it. If you have to cheat someone, you should cheat the government.
But not this woman with a sense of morality, with a sense of righteousness, with a sense of… the Singapore Pioneer Generation Spirit?
I do not know you, lady, but I applaud you.
I can imagine that in another country (say Malaysia or Indonesia) where corruption is rampant and even accepted as a way of life, this cheating of the government would not only be tolerated, it would even be encouraged and colluded.
But not in Singapore. This woman makes me proud to be Singaporean. She is an everyday heroine, standing up for Singaporeanness. She reflects the spirit of the pioneers – honesty, integrity, and the pursuit of justice?
You don’t have to wear a cape to be a hero.
[June 21, 2016 update from the Straits Times: