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- Dr Midas and his Golden Touch
- I want to be a doctor
- Gesundheit Institute

Sharing of Moral Values

The above Chinese calligraphy is kindly
contributed by Ms Florence Shen

Dr Midas and his Golden Touch

On 27 April 2004, a letter on "Why great doctors deserve top dollar" was published in the Straits Times Forum.

I summarized the two truths as expressed by the writer, given as follows:

The first truth :

Surgeons who are skilful and experienced in performing highly difficult operations expect to be paid for their talents. In the writer's opinion, such an expectation should not be considered unreasonable.

The second truth :

If good surgeons feel that they are not paid adequately for their work, they will inexorably leave the country in search of greener pastures.

My Concern

I was disturbed after reading this letter and sent my views to the Straits Times Forum Editor. However, my letter was not published due to the lack of "media" space as indicated by the Editor. Please click here to read my letter. This letter was also emailed to Minister of Health.

Assuming that the above two truths correctly reflect the mindset of our local surgeons, can you imagine what will be the consequences?

How true are the "Two Truths"?

I shared my concerns with a respectable local doctor A/Prof. Goh Lee Gan who has generously given his consent for his sharing to be posted on my web page. Through this sharing, A/Prof Goh and I strive to uphold the noble spirit of the medical profession.

A/Prof Goh Lee Gan's Sharing

(1) There are three Gs in this world: goodness, glory, and gold. Each of us tries to find a meaning in life in one or more of the three, hopefully in all three. The one that lasts longest and the hardest to live with is the first one -- but of course even Shakespeare is skeptical of that -- the "the good is interred in their bones".

(2) I believe in the alignment of vision to do good. If the 3 Gs can be aligned, then the need to have pots of money to be a meaning in life will hopefully be muted a bit -- anyway, I am quite clear -- money is transient, effervescent, and to some extent, meaningless by itself.

(3) Good doctors are those who despite the big odds, strive to serve mankind, without the promise of money. God eventually rewards them with a happy heart, a sunny smile, good health and a positive meaning in life: these are gifts and best rewards we can have. We will die happy.

Dr Midas Touch vs Dr Compassionate Touch

I urge doctors who have fallen into the trap of the "Two Truths" to set themselves free. Otherwise, their pair of "medicine" hands will be lost once they gradually acquire the "Midas Touch". Learning from the experience of King Midas, you will realize that your "Midas Touch" will bring you misfortune. One may think that it is merely a silly story. Well, you can always challenge it if you are prepared to bear the consequence.

My Letter dated 4 May 2004 emailed to the Straits Time Forum Editor

I refer to Mr Elgin Toh Ming Yang's letter on "Why great doctors deserve top dollar" in ST Forum of 27 April 2004.

Great doctors are highly respected for their noble spirit in saving lives, as well as giving hope and bringing joy to the sick and their families when a life is saved. In this definition, great doctors refer to those who show great love and compassion for their fellowmen.

Certainly, great doctors deserve top dollar. The question is: Can anyone put a price tag to a human life? If great doctors are only keen to save lives for handsome monetary rewards, they are no better than killers.

In those stories of ancient famous Chinese Physicians, these great men had chosen the arduous path of becoming doctors because of their love for medicine and desire to save lives. Unlike the commoners, they were contented with their decent lifestyles. Indeed, they were blessed with a pair of "medicine" hands to save lives and not using them for "gold digging".

Undoubtedly, doctors are inevitably human beings who behave according to a myriad of attitudes, mindsets, philosophies and goals in life. Mr Toh's two truths about their mindsets might only apply to some doctors who behave like many Singaporeans, chasing after the materialistic 5Cs.

From the SARS incidents, we have also witnessed for ourselves the presence of heroic doctors who are great men with immense compassion to step forward to save lives. If they are ready to risk their lives, they will not leave for greener pasture, after all they are humans and not animals that need to eat greener grass.

I hope that my observation about the noble spirit of our local doctors is accurate. It is important for parents to instill the right moral values into their children if they are blessed with a pair of "medicine" hands.

Posted on 13 May 2004

Footnote : To read the letter in ST Forum, please click here.

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