I don’t like this obsession with MCs in Singapore. I realise it’s just another consequence of the lack of trust combined with the fear of being taken advantage of that every Singaporean grows up with but I think that require MCs every time you take leave is stupid and doesn’t stop people from taking sick leave willy nilly.
Let’s say I have a common cold – an ailment that will pass with time and some rest. But because I want to rest at home, I need to see a doctor. Thus, I either see a doctor at a polyclinic if I can afford the time (or I don’t have the money) or one in private practice. Not only will the doctor give me an MC, he will also prescribe a variety of medicine aimed at tackling my symptoms but really, I know I will recover with or without the medicine. Some might even give me antibiotics for no apparent reason. Now, if I reject the medication, then the doctor will suspect that I am only there to get an MC, which I am, and might extrapolate that to mean that I am not actually feeling unwell*. So I take all the medication home and leave them in a corner where eventually, their expiry date will arrive and they will get dumped, together with the money I paid for them. Because I don’t need the medication and I’m not taking them for the fun of it. The point is that getting an MC creates a lot of waste and the whole thing is some sort of charade the patient and the doctor goes through because we need to get an MC for sick leave.
More annoyingly is when I get bad menstrual cramps – something I am able to deal with using a hot water bottle, some panadol and some rest. Unfortunately, it makes teaching very, very difficult. Either I am in too much pain to throw my voice or I am unable to stand for long periods. So sometimes, I stay at home but I still need to pay a $40 bill in order to get that precious MC and a bunch of painkillers I already have at home. And the whole thing is stupid because I know why I am in pain, I know what to do and yet I have to get my discomfort certified by someone who simply listens to me and then just hands me an MC.
The rational for all this theatrics is that this will cut down on people taking sick leave when they aren’t sick. Frankly all that happens is that people now simply pay for an MC and stay at home, sick or not. Perhaps this is how we create a market for the doctors in private practice. Does this practice of requiring MC actually cut down on the number of people taking sick leave? I can’t imagine that it does. But maybe Singapore is full of cunning, lazy people whose only reason for existence is to game the system. We already have a cap on how many sick days one can take a year and if someone wants to spend them all recklessly, then so be it. Perhaps he will get away with it. Perhaps it will bite him in the butt when he gets sick later in the year and has to take no pay leave instead.