Why did you choose to study Medicine?
I mean there are many reasons. I never envisioned myself sitting in the office doing work because that’s not what I enjoy. For me, I like talking to people and trying to fix and solve the problems. Also, I felt that out of all the jobs that one can take, if one becomes a doctor, then he can be assured that he would have had helped one person in his life. Medicine is also one of those things where you don’t have to worry about whether the person [you are helping] is good or bad. Hence, I find that Medicine is okay because even if I’m useless, I’m sure I can at least help one person and that my life will not be wasted.
How has your training as a doctor helped you or affected you as an MP?
Oh, very much so. Because first of all a lot of doctors are rooted in the community. For instance, I work in SGH and many of my Queenstown residents were my patients and they know me. When you treat a patient, their friends and family will come to know you as well -- it’s just this six degrees of separation thing. But I think the main thing is that we find it easier to talk to people and it becomes a part of our life. In Singapore, we have Meet-the-People Sessions, where residents come to you with their problems, and then you talk to them. It is exactly like running a clinic, but it is harder because social problems are harder to treat. Personally, as a doctor, most of the times when patients come to me with orthopaedic issues, I’m very sure I can treat it and I can treat it well. I can give them chances of success, complications etc and I can sort it out for them. However, social issues are not so easy, but the mindset is still the same. In Medicine, your main idea is that you may not be able to treat everything, but you always want to give comfort. Thus, the same thing applies when it comes to being an MP -- some problems cannot be solved but you need to remember to always provide comfort. In fact, did you know that the meet-the-people sessions in the UK are called surgeries? I think being a doctor is still quite a respected profession, and health is always something that everybody can relate to, so a lot of them come to see me just for health problems and it’s a fairly neutral issue, I talk to them, give them some advice, run some free clinics for them. So it works quite well.