Tharman's Trampoline

A Singaporean friend cited Tharman's interview [link] with some ang mo guy and highlighted how brilliantly handled the interview. Most Singaporeans agree with this friend, judging by the comments to that video. How Singaporeans deem brilliance, I do not really know. Perhaps most of us would freeze like a rabbit caught in the headlight during a live interview that anyone who can give an answer rather quickly and manage to sound right will be considered as "nailing the interview."

Among the legions of Singaporeans stroking Tharman's wee wee, I must be the only one who disagree that he did well. In fact, the interviewer was not even trying pick a bone with Tharman but oddly enough, Singaporean viewers think he is. What Tharman did was answering each question factually (to his credit) and why Singapore carried out certain policies differently from the rest of the world, with reasons nothing new to any of us. As for whether such policies should be carried out the way they are, he offered nothing in justification except for the usual, "We (the PAP) think it is right."

Brilliant interview? Nailing it? When the government tells us that the ERP is established to curb traffic congestion, most of you are unconvinced and riled. What Tharman did was the same thing, different context, and you lap it up and call him "brilliant." What? Just because he was dealing with an ang mo? Damn, how low have our standards dropped. 

The Singaporean friend picked one of the lines he was particularly pleased about, when Tharman replied, "I believed in the notion of a trampoline," to the interviewer inquiring about why Singapore chose not to establish "safety nets" like other developed nations. The crowd clapped in appreciation to Tharman's response and Singaporeans took amusement for admiration. I wonder how many Singaporean viewers actually understood the question in the first place. Heh. No wonder LKY called us daft. Hard truth indeed.

Anyway, this Singaporean guy argued that Medicare in Australia is actually a version of Tharman's trampoline and not a true safety net because it isn't really "free" as believed. For the unfamiliar, Medicare is Australia health care system that covers many health care costs. Residents have to pay a levy each year if they do not cover themselves with some form of private health insurance. Thus, the notion of "free healthcare" is definitely false. However, I told Singaporean guy that though Medicare is not entirely free, it is a safety net and a rather low cost one. He disagreed and he demanded for a good answer for my claim.

I told Singapore guy, "Imagine a scenario where you are jobless in Australia for 2 years and spent all your money on necessities. You have no money to buy anything else, including private health insurance. During those two years, you would have paid no tax and therefore no levy for Medicare as well, since you had no income. True?" He nodded and agreed. So I continued, "Now you go down on a serious medical problem and needed a surgery, will you get rejected by the hospital because you cannot afford the fees?" He paused and answered slowly, "No?" with a painful expression as if he knew what was coming.

"Would you be rejected by a hospital in Singapore in the same situation?" I asked.


"Now that is the difference between a safety net and a fucking trampoline," I retorted and walked away.


  1. That's why it'll be 65% at least to the men in white the next time.

  2. It is also true that many Oz doctors or some medical services do not “bulk bill”.

    (“Bulk bill” means doctors or medical services accepting the amount of payment the government set for them. Their patients simply walk in, walk out.)

    Any fee or charges are higher than the pre-set bulk bill rate. Patients have to pay the difference (ie the gap) out of their own pockets.

    But here’s the true ‘Safety Net’ - The “Medicare Safety Net”.

    When patient’s accumulated out-of-pocket expense (within each calendar year) reaches a certain level, “Medicare Safety Net” can be activated to relieve them from having too much out-of-pocket expenses for their medical treatments for the rest of the year.

    Medicare is probably just a “care”, something basic and fundamental to an Aussies (with or without being levied). Their “net” is really to provide “safety”, ie from unwittingly being denied something they deemed fundamental and basic.

    Btw, trampolines in Oz come with ‘safety net’ !