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Hit Tamil movie Mersal faces blowback in India for claiming Singapore provides free healthcare after collecting 7 percent GST

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India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has lambasted a hit Tamil movie, Mersal, for factual errors in the movie which compared the healthcare systems of India and Singapore.

The controversial scene is one where the actor compares India to Singapore. Speaking about the tax rates and medical cover in the two countries, the actor says that while Singapore charges only 7% GST, the people there get free medical treatment. He then compared this to India, where people are charged 28% GST but still don’t get free treatment.

The actor Vijay is a leading movie hero in Tamil Nadu, India and is said to have political ambitions. It is not out of the ordinary for actors in Tamil Nadu to have political aspirations and to be elected to public offices. Two of Tamil Nadu’s former chief ministers were leading yesteryear stars.

BJP’s Tamil Nadu leader Tamilisai Soundarajan has charged that the particular scene was weaved into the movie “to create a wrong impression on the minds of people.” Her party has demanded that the scene be censored from the movie.

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The South Indian Artistes’ Association, as well as leading actors like Kamal Hassan has however come out in support of the movie. Kamal Hassan himself has recently confirmed that he has political aspirations and will contest Tamil Nadu’s next election.

That particular scene was passed uncut by the Singapore censors. The Singapore censors cut a crucial fight scene between the hero and the villain for excessive violence.

Tamilisai may be correct that the scene contains factual errors. Singapore imposes 7 percent Goods & Services Tax (GST), but healthcare is not free for its citizens. Singapore’s healthcare system stresses the importance of personal responsibility for one’s health and healthcare. As such, co-payment features are incorporated in the design of government subsidies.

A recent study said that 88 percent of Singaporeans’ top fear is medical costs and the burden they would leave their families.

Mersal is released as a Deepavali treat for Vijay fans and is running to packed theaters in India, Malaysia and Singapore.

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