Singapore – The high price of meals at a public hospital in the lower-income heartland of Sengkang is now a meaty topic on social media, after having shocked Andrew Loh — a co-founder of socio-political site The Online Citizen.
Loh had ordered a meal at Koufu, a food court in Sengkang General Hospital (SGH) and had promptly aired his concerns on May 9 on Facebook, where he posted the following photo of his meal with the caption:
“This plate of food, $6.60. Koufu at Sengkang General Hospital. Got a shock. I asked the server: how come 6.60? Ya, he said. 2 meat and I veggie – each $2. Rice $0.60.
I looked at him and said: it’s very expensive. I repeated it. He just looked at me.
Bought a small cup of tehsi kosong. $1.80.
Total: $8.40 for that meal.
“Economic rice is no longer economical,” captioned Facebook page All Singapore Stuff which shared the post that, in turn, garnered comments from concerned citizens.
Member of the public Ronnie Chan agrees that the price of the meal was expensive, especially for someone on an “ordinary mediocre salary.” He shares how he had breakfast at the National Heart Centre in Singapore General Hospital and had been surprised at the cost.
Francis Chuang shares how “Singapore Government Hospital Canteens are all the same” when it comes to pricing. Even his son who was already a doctor and who could enjoy staff discounts could not afford to eat at the hospital canteen.
A quick search through social media sites like Twitter and Facebook yields posts describing Koufu as “overpriced for the quality of food.”
Chinese-language daily Lianhe Zaobao reported on May 12 that the food court is, in fact, more expensive than others.
A spokesperson for Koufu explained to the daily that the operating costs for it’s SGH branch was considerably higher compared to other locations, thus affecting menu prices.
“We’ll gather the public’s feedback and reflect if there’s a need to adjust the prices of certain food items, to ensure that it’s something everyone can afford,” said the representative.
Factors that affect higher prices for food stalls operating in hospitals include extended hours and less competition which increases overhead costs and rent, respectively.
On May 14 (Tuesday), Loh posted an update after doing a little digging on the issue. He discovered that SGH led the pricing for “economic rice” and shared a link to research conducted on the issue./TISG