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Dr. Susan Lim’s Great Singapore Ripoff « Getting at the truth

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Dr. Susan Lim’s Great Singapore Ripoff

Dr. Susan Lim with some of her spoils

The S$26 million (US$20.4 million) bill that Singaporean Dr Susan Lim, 55, charged for her medical services to a woman member of Brunei’s royal family was eye-popping, to say the least.

That was for only five months of services provided from Jan 15 to June 16, 2007!

Documents filed in a Singapore Court provide details of the bills between 2004 and 2007, total S$40 million (US$31 million). This is not counting three years of charges for prior services.

The patient for whom these services were rendered was Pengiran Anak Hajah Damit, the younger sister of Brunei’s queen and a cousin of the Sultan.

Dr Lim treated the lady for breast cancer from 2001 until the patient died in August 2007.

These enormous bills were paid by Brunei, which means the Sultan.

Documents filed in the Singapore High Court court show that on the days for which services were rendered during this period, Dr Lim’s charges allegedly ranged from S$29,600 to S$660,000 per day, or US$ 23,215.50 and US$517,643 per day.

The report said a specialist, who was not named, treated the deceased and sent a bill for S$400, which Dr Lim bumped up to S$211,000. In another instance, another unnamed doctor charged S$500 but Dr Lim once again raised the price to S$93,500—nice little profit margins!

Dr. Susan Lim on the job

Dr. Susan Lim on the job

These and several other revelations of how Dr Lim charged her patient for treatment by other doctors were made in the High Court  by Senior Counsel Alvin Yeo.

Representing the Singapore Medical Council (SMC), he cited the allegedly inflated bills to show there was a case for a disciplinary committee to launch an inquiry against the doctor. To date, the case has not been resolved.

Apart from her alleged avarice, Susan Lim is a highly qualified person. She is a graduate of Singapore’s elite Raffles Institution and was a very popular student. We understand that her boyfriend’s last name was Wong.

After Raffles Institution, Susan Lim was a top student at Australia’s Monash University.

Dr. Lim is widely known in Asia and Singapore for being the first surgeon to have performed a successful liver transplant in 1990. She is also known as the “Spirit of the Century”, an Award conferred upon her by Singapore in a national contest held to identify the role model for the 21st century.

We trust that Dr. Lim’s excessive charges do not derail the plans of the Singapore / Brunei merger.

The bottom line: Don’t go to Singapore for your “medical tourism.”

52 comments to Dr. Susan Lim’s Great Singapore Ripoff

  • sgcynic

    She is indeed a role model for a soulless society that is driven by greed, well led by our PAP ministers.

    • admin

      Yours is an excellent parallel between Dr. Susan Lim and the PAP ministers. All driven by greed.

  • F Steinburg

    I cannot believe the costs of Singapore Healthcare! Dr Susan Lim is probably the most expensive Dr in the world?
    I’m sure John Hopkins and Harvard are observing this outrageous ripoff by a professional in Singapore.

  • Perplexed

    Suppose that A performs a service for Z and submits a bill of $x for services through B. Now suppose that when B submits A’s bill for services the bill is no longer $x, but instead has now become 70 times $x, but B still passes this on as A’s bill but without either obtaining A’s agreement or informing Z of the change, and then keeping the inflated difference. Would this amount to fraud? Come on, any legal eagles in the house? What do you think?

  • patriot

    Some Sin Doctors and many other professionals may have swore once on the Hippocratic Code and like it so much that they keep becoming Hypocrites.
    hypocrites do flourish very well in Sin.


  • patriot

    Some Sin Doctors and many other professionals may have swore once on the Hippocratic Code and like it so much that they keep becoming Hypocrites.
    hypocrites do flourish very well in Sin.


  • A Cohen

    Seems to me the lady dr committed FRAUD….all she did was add in the extra “0000000es” to her medical bill.

  • Jonathan W

    If Dr Lim is not punished by the Singapore govt, does it mean that Singapore will be providing the most expensive medical healthcare in the world?
    Every Dr and snakeoil salesmen will be charging their private Singapore patients a whole ton of money.
    Who can afford Dr Susan Lim’s “unpunished precedence”?

  • Zohar Weinstein

    She’s got her money in offshore bank accounts. The Singapore Govt should make her submit to full restitution of the funds she fraudently took from the Brunei Royal Family.

  • LevelHeadSG

    God Singapore has really shamed itself. I’m not talking about Dr.Lim, I’m talking about the people like the commenters on this thread. Let me point out a few facts you might not be aware of:

    1. NO COMPLAINT was made against Dr.Lim. Not from the patient, not from the Brunei Government, in fact ALL the feedback from parties involved was positive. The Singapore Government butted its head into Dr.Lim’s business when there was NO grounds. This is why the initial commitee was disbanded, there should not have been a case in the first place! Would you like it if the Government intervened on your business and said that you have no right to charge $1.20 for a coffee because your neighbour is selling for $.90? What if your coffee costs more cause it comes from Columbia? What if you’re the best coffee maker in the world? Even though the sums are different the principle is the same. Its not greed, and Governments shouldn’t intervene on private business when there’s NO COMPLAINT, unless you want SG to not be a free market economy, in which case you can just move to China and see how you like it there.
    2. Noone has PAID ANYTHING to Dr.Lim until now, but SHE HAS PAID ALL THE OTHER DOCTORS INVOLVED and incurred losses of $5mil during the time treating the patient because of opportunity costs, lost patients etc. The patient was highly demanding, which is what noone realises because noone reads the court documents.
    3. The time she was treating the patient Dr.Lim had to be with her 24/7. They had to charter entire planes to fly medical staff to the patient because the patient “didn’t want to travel”, they had to set up a full Intensive Care Unit IN THE HILTON HOTEL ROOM of the patient because she didn’t want to move to the hotel. THIS WAS THE SOURCE OF DR.LIM’s HIGH FEES among other justifiable reasons. The doctors who have allegedly been upmarket have all stated in court that it was not “UPMARK” because Dr.Lim’s tasks were parrallel and FAR MORE INVOLVED than what the other doctors had to do.
    4. Dr.Lim is not like your GP consultant who works next to your local pharmacy and only charges you $20 for the consultation…that is not even in the same league. She is in the TOP of her field GLOBALLY, she has awards NAMED AFTER HER all over the world for example. She did the first liver transplant in asia, pioneered for women into an all-male profession in Asia, and has EARNED THE RIGHT to charge whatever she wants because she’s AT THE TOP. What right do you have to say she has to charge lower? If she was a car dealer, she’d be selling ferrari’s…just because you can’t afford a ferrari doesn’t mean they have to price it the same as a Toyota so you have a chance?? she provides the best i.e. the BEST treatments, the BEST experience, the BEST chance at survival.
    5. The politician Mr.Saktu who initially caused all this has since left his office rather suddenly. Suspicious don’t you think? The initial committee disbanded, the people who caused this all have left their post? Its because they know they are wrong and are going to be sued to hell by Dr.Lim, which I can’t wait to see when the truth comes out on March 28th when Dr.Lim lodges her defensive testimony for the first time.
    6. The actual value of the bill is only 12million…which when you look at the costs involved and the agreed upon fee, its completely justified (hard for poor people to imagine, but this is NOT a big sum for 1 year of a Clinic the size of Dr.Lims). The initial bills were sent by her Office staff not her because she was too busy WITH the patient giving 24/7 treatment and attention. Ppl don’t understand, the patient didn’t even want a nurse to do an injection, it HAD to be Dr.Lim. Only when Dr.Lim got back and she saw the bills did she discount everything of her own accord. The clinic staff were charging off the agreed-upon daily rate, which Dr.Lim decided out of kindness to discount!
    7. The worst thing is that…people automatically assume the money Dr.Lim is charging is going straight into her pocket. So stupid ah? The money goes into paying her 30-odd staff, running her clinic, investing in new treatments and technology for her surgery etc. Medicine is an EXPENSIVE field to operate a business in. Why don’t you go buy a laporoscopic laser surgery machine and see how much it costs, oh…5million USD and its outdated in 4 years? Anyone who has ANY business sense would know that…and poor people like the ones above wouldn’t. Its always the ignorant who speak first…they should really learn to think before slandering GOOD and HARD WORKING Singaporeans.

    You people are so stupid you don’t even see when people are being slandered on purpose to slant the public view of a case to pre-determine its outcome. The information you have is all leaked by the prosecution. Everything heard in the headlines is all sensationalist, untruthful slander which you all bought because you’re poor and you mistrust anyone with money. Dr.Lim has done more for others than any of you will in your lifetime, and continues to. Can you imagine what its like…she’s still going into surgery SAVING LIVES and then she opens the newspaper to see this crap. I really feel sorry for her but I know she will come out on top like all good people do.
    Hang in there Dr.Lim, don’t worry about these people on these threads. They have nothing that’s why they must tear down those who are successful even when they think they’re right (but have no actual evidence except the slander in the headlines).

    I really hope one day you all get sick…and when it comes time to find a doctor to save you…you know who might be at the top of that list? Dr.Lim, and no, the price won’t be as high as what she charged the BRUNEI ROYALTY. Those charges were high for the extraordinary nature of the patient’s demands. If you ever meet her you’ll know how good a person she is, and how little she deserved all this crap, and how willing she’d be to help save your life when the time comes.

    When the truth comes out, I hope you all have the integrity to write an apology to her, because there’s a chance she your comments and felt hurt, i hope you have the decency to redact your statements, but that would be asking for decency and integrity, which from your statements you all clearly don’t have. Rather like the usual Trolls, you attack using the anonymity of the internet, like little poor cowards.
    Shameful. Truely shameful Singapore.

  • Sammy Thein

    I have enjoyed your book escape from paradis. You are on to an interesting and scandalous new story but you have the wrong victim ! The actual victim is the doctor herself who is being relentlessly persecuted by a government body in Singapore as a favor to another country !!!
    For the record, the doctor’s companies rendered seven months of services in 2 different jurisdictions including hotel suites between january and july 2007 without ever collecting any payment. All the monies are outstanding. Furthermore, the doctors companies had paid for the evacuation of the patient, her seven family members and royal maids on a private plane charter, all her medicines and consummables and feeds in Brunei, and numerous other services but has not been reimbursed a cent as the singapore body called singapore medical council, under ministry of health told Brunei not to pay. These monies are not solely for the doctor but billed under a corporate business with third party infrastructure and other costs as well. The patient had been a client of the doctor since 2001 and happily returned to her care year after year in full knowledge of the charges and having some of the world’s best doctors at her feet to choose from. The doctor provided the best medical care during the patients lifetime to the extent of serving her even when she was in hospital herself apparently recovering from an eye operation. The doctor in fact never wanted to keep her under her care and thrice sent her away to another hospital or country once she cured the patient of her problems, but the patient kept returning for more. She is now fighting for her rights against two governments .

    • admin

      Sammy: I am glad you enjoyed our book, Escape from Paradise. Thank you. You may be right about Susan Lim. My wife knew her when they were both in Raffles Institution and said she was a great student and a nice person. Maybe we have been too quick to judge. One might suspect, also, that there was some strange doings on the Brunei side, as who was watching after the Sultan’s money?
      All the best,

      • Tang Li

        Hi John,

        This is really great to see a blog writer admit that he might have been hasty in his initial judgement. Kudos to you.

        So far we’ve heard mainly from the Singapore Medical Council’s team and not much has been heard from Susan Lim’s side. I think we can expect more “juicy” stuff to come from Monday 28 March, 2011’s court hearing when Dr Lim’s team present their submissions.

        • admin

          On second thought, I was not hasty in my conclusions regarding Dr. Susan Lim. Her charges were excessive, regardless of the wealth of the client. You seem to be guilty of money-worship.

          • Tang Li

            Wow – Anglo-Saxon Steadfastness at its best 😉

            Guilty of money worship or free from humbug?

  • Marie Lebreuil

    The story is quite shocking that government machinery is used to pressure a doctor into providing dedicated services of she and her team without receiving payment over six months.

  • A Cohen

    Like I said…she just added more “000es” to her patient’s medical tab.

  • youcallmechantek

    Hey John,the news has somewhat become stale and Japan’s disaster is more interesting than this scandalous article.But,nonetheless, I do agree with Levelhead SG.What you poor people read in the news are just what you want to see and believe.People do not understand what was truly involved in managing,caring and providing for Pg Damit.Hey,she’s the Royals mind you!!!! While we Singaporeans bow our heads and submit to their whims and fancies,should we also be belittled in our values?Should our Top doctors be paid peanuts for Top service rendered?The bill which was splashed on newspaper was not a mark up at all and it was not anything near to it.Didn’t you know that all 5 doctors have sworn their affidavits in saying that it was ridiculous and utterly not true as what was reported about their bills being mark up?????Yeah…you don’t know because you are blinded and your mind is cloudy.

    If Queen Elizabeth came to you John (should you be a doctor yourself)how would you like to charge her?I’m very interested to know.Putting yourself in the same shoes as Dr Lim,mind you,would be charging Queen Elizabeth few thousand pounds so that you will get a 1001% chance of being knighted after treating her?Hahahah…just a lame joke! This joke is as lame as your article John.

    Please,if you could come to listen to the hearing this 28th March,I am sure your jaw will be locked from gawking and listening to the utmost truth that you will need an orthodontics to fix it.!

    Meanwhile,go google about Sultan’s extravagant expenditures and you will realise that Dr Lim’s charges are really peanuts,ok?

    • admin

      The news may be a bit stale to you, but it needed to be aired outside of Singapore. Yes, Japan is more important, but it is well covered exposing the total incompetence of the Japanese officials – which is not a surprise. More important than both are War #3 in Libya, and War #4 in Yemen where Petraeus has been bombing the rebels for some time now, and falsely claiming that it is Yemen that is doing it. Interestingly, our most popular post is the one on the possible merger between Singapore and Brunei – two countries which need each other (and not just for medical services). Singapore (like the US) is becoming a country of cheap immigrant labor, and Brunei has the oil (and the Sultan’s $7billion worth of automobiles rotting in his garage). As for Queen Elizabeth, it is doubtful that she will call on me, and certainly I’m not expecting an invitation to the wedding. Wonder how Kate’s parents, an airline pilot and stewardess, became multimillionaires? Ciao.

  • Ani Istri

    With overcharging specialists like Dr Susan Lim and some members of her fraternity saying doctors can, when warranted, charge up to S$300,000 a day in fees, Singapore can well forget about being the healthcare centre in Asia, and even the world, for those in need of medical attention.

    Dr Lim, who has become a symbol of greed, for her exorbitant charges she extracted from the Brunei Royal family for treating The Sultan of Brunei’s wife’s sister, a breast cancer patient for around four years.

    Our family paid all the multi-million-dollar bills as long as Pengiran Anak Hajah Damit was alive. But after her death in 2007, Dr Lim produced a bill for S$24 million for five months of treatment. Brunei still was ready to pay up if it was offered a good discount.

    Later, however, it decided to bring it up with the Singapore Health Ministry.

    The amount was not just astronomical by any stretch of imagination but was loaded with fraud.

    When she brought in a specialist outside of her domain, he charged less than S$1,000. But she produced a bill of more than S$300,000 for the Brunei royal family.

    I think this involves a combination of greed, criminality and stupidity.

    How can she assume that anyone will meet all her sky-high charges without a murmur even if it is the Sultan of Brunei picking up the bills?

    Dr Susan Lim argues that she and the patient had agreed on a payment of S100,000 to $200,000 a day.

    This is weak reasoning.

    The fact remains that the amount is atrocious.

    Even the world’s best surgeons only charge a fraction of that amount.

    For instance, when she herself brought a top breast cancer surgeon from Europe to treat the same Brunei patient, his charge was only £15,000 a day for three days.

    Dr Lim then produced a bill for $320,000 for “emergency long-distance coordination.”

    To me, the case is more than one involving a disciplinary issue. It is one that has criminal import, with fraudulent overcharging and markups.

    While Singapore is trying to become a medical centre of Asia, doctors like her can do lasting damage to Singapore’s ambitions.

    • cathy fechoz

      What is so laughable is that the $1000 surgeon charged for a 40 minute unsuccessful service witnessed by all those in the hpspital serving her at the time. He should not have billed at all as he did nothing to help her !!!!!!!!! the doctor lim had to do salvage work and rescued her and so much more and worked tirelessly through the day and night related to making her gasping go away. one should compare apples to apples !

    • youcallmechantek

      Hi Ani Istri,so Pg Damit was your family member?As you mentioned that your family paid the multi-million-dollar bills for Pg Damit.Ahhh…then you should know the real story right?Why when Dr Lim gave a good discount,Brunei still not ready to pay?Quite contradicting to your statements,isn’t it?

      From court documents,it showed that Dr Lim’s medical team was still required to treat and care for Pg Damit in Brunei even though there was a strong medical team in Brunei.Doesn’t it tell us how much confidence and faith the Royals have in the Singapore medical team?Next,it was always the Singapore team who stepped forward to answer queries from His & Her Majesty while the Brunei shy away from them.But that is not important.The gist of the news is,why was Dr Lim’s team was kept in service till 16 july 2007?Was it because you people could celebrate the Sultan’s birthday without having to worry about preparing for Pg Damiit’s funeral arrangements?In my opinion,it all just point to one direction.The Singapore team services was ceased after Sultan’s birthday and Pg Damit’s conditioned deteriorated thereafter and came your complained after she has passed on in a well-typed letter but hand-written date.How demeaning cunning can one be?

      You can afford all the luxuries that the worls has to offer,eg. buying a Hermes handbag over Piere Cardin,kept a collection of expensive watches,so on and so forth.You choose all those things.Nobody force you to buy it right?Same goes for Pg Damit medical treatment.She wanted only the best surgeon,the best medical services and neither she nor the family members complaine about the bills as long as she is alive.But things took a turn upon her death.This was seen as an opportunity to slam Dr Lim down (after all her sheer hard work),when you could have done so when Pg damit was still alive and kicking.Clever and rich you people may be,but utterly coward too.!

      You labelled Dr Lim as greedy,then why do you people keep coming back for more when you know the charges was atrocious?Isn’t it more atrocious for a Singapore surgeon to pick up the tabs for the airplane chartered for Pg Damit and family?You forgot how much arrangements and work involved when the Royals or Pg Damit alike came for their check-ups.If you think paying for the Singapore doctors is heinous,then you jolly well join the queue with the poor people and go buy your own prescriptions instead of getting it send to your hotel room by Dr lim’s staff.Go make your own appointments and arrangements for x-rays and such.Reasonable enough??

  • LevelHeadSG

    Again, the point has escaped most people. Money is not the issue; its the principle of the case against Dr.Lim. No-one has any grounds to say what a businessperson can and cannot charge, because we are in a free market economy with open competition. The only intervention the public needs to take is to NOT patronize the businesses who you think charge excessively. Government does not need to step in to arbitrate unless you want to live in a Socialist society and lose your freedom of choice.

    1. If the patient was unhappy with the quotation there are plenty of other top tier surgeons who may or may not have charged lower. It is up to a CONSUMER to practice Caveat Emptor, and report only when FALSE representations of costs are made. So far all the evidence presented in the news is based on a lawyer and a politician reading a one-line item on a bill, and PRESUMING there was a meaningless upmark. I’ll say that again, they read a ONE-LINE itemized bill and made an ASSUMPTION of a meaningless upmark. Dr.Lim’s journals, treatment records, testimonial evidence from attending physicians and nurses will all show that the presumption of an upmark was a grossly simplistic view.
    They WANTED Dr.Lim to be wrong, if not consciously then certainly subconsciously. Their assumption was based on a weak. personal, emotional response to money, most likely the emotion of envy. The PRESUMPTION of guilt is what caused the first committee to be disbanded.
    If you step back from the case and look at the FACTS not the ACCUSATIONS, at the core everyone who read the article in the news immediately believed the negative side because they had an EMOTIONAL reaction to it. Luckily the Law is not based on gut instinct (which for most people when it comes to money is wrong, especially for Asian mentalities towards money for example). The Law is based on PROVABLE facts and the Law presumes INNOCENCE in order to extend equal rights to all citizens for fair judgement in court.
    The prosecution leaked the Accusations to hype up the case, because they know that often the law of the street, based in emotion, can influence the law of a courtroom. Unfortunately most people when it comes to money, do not make decisions based on rationalism, they make decisions based on emotion. The proof: only a small fraction of people invest their money into high interest-earning vehicles even though that’s the most RATIONAL thing to do with your money. The dumbest thing you can do with money is ‘save it in the bank’, which is what most of the negative commenters would do I’m assuming. Its a parallel mentality.
    People get rich by being smart with money, and those who cheat definitely don’t have numerous awards in their name like Dr.Lim. Stop hating the rich just coz they’re rich, they are simply more educated about money than the average person.

    2. People do not realize for some reason, that this pricing is NOT typical of Dr.Lim’s charging structure. If you go to the clinic yourself, clearly she’s not going to bill you $12m for surgery (how would she have got to where she is? how would she stay in business??…Clearly not every sick royal family member will come to her and get sick with exactly her speciality in medicine??).
    So what’s the exact nature of your argument? Her pricing to you will be fair, as it was to the patient in question in this case. The nature of the costs are a direct reflection of the unique, EXTRA-ORDINARY demands of the patient. Dr.Lim had to sacrifice time with her family, a lot of other business and patients, and even her own health (because she was recovering from a detached retina while treating the patient). All those factor in ON TOP of the fact that the patient already had a long-standing positive relationship with Dr.Lim, AND had agreed to the costs.
    3. Your words ‘money-worship’ clearly point to your personal views on money, i.e. the same as most people: “money is the root of all evil”. We are ingrained in the media, movies and life that in order to succeed you must screw others, and that to be a businessman you must cheat people at some point or another. What profession do ALL Bond-villians have for example: Businessmen.
    I’m a businessman and I know it’s ridiculous to think we’re all cheats and take advantage of people. I create jobs, grow the economy and CREATE wealth not just for myself but for others, not by taking advantage but by allowing people to make 1+1=4 by creating environments where people are pushed to produce more TOGETHER than what they can do individually. It was only when I realised that money is an IDEA that I started to make more of it, more easily. Some people just understand money, most people don’t. We all charge for our time, I imagine you have an hourly rate for writing these articles. The simple fact is that the lifetime of skills and experience Dr.Lim has is why HER hourly rate is so much higher. You’re in the business of reporting (which by the way requires due process in searching for the truth and should be cast without opinion), she’s in the business of SAVING LIVES. I’d say there’s a justifiable reason for the gap in the value of your time.
    4. When it boils down to it, this is nothing more than another case of Tall Poppy Syndrome. People can’t stand those who are more successful than them, and regardless of your accomplishments, people will only remember the negative. Thankfully the law is rooted in rational argument not emotion, and any good judge will decide based on facts not emotion. I don’t expect people to understand, because most people are poorly educated when it comes to money, I mean, none of us ever studied any courses on money in highschool for example. Our money traits are ingrained from society and our parents’ habits. This is the root of the problem and why everyone was so quick to judge Dr.Lim.
    5. I’ve said this before, but just because you cannot afford something doesn’t mean you have to force someone to discount for you. Medicine is an expensive business. Doctors need constant training in new techniques, need to invest in new technologies, and because of that it needs to be run like a business.
    A ferrari is hand-built, requires thousands of hours of design, manufacturing, testing, tuning, balancing. Ferrari uses the BEST engineers and the BEST designers. That is why it is WORTH more. A service can be the same, but we charge for services based on what WE think WE’RE worth. If we’re not worth what we charge, sooner or later a COMPETITOR will charge less. That is the power of a free market economy; choice. If you follow your argument of this case to its furthest outcome, the result is this:

    Government will be allowed to intervene on private businesses everywhere, and decide what they can charge, regardless of what complaint has been made against you, if any. That represents a death to privatized health, which in turn would stump private investment in new technologies and cures, which would result in a population with growing health issues and reducing lifespan and quality of life. Do you know how much would destroy entrepreneurship too, which is the lifeblood of any economy?
    The Law is absolute, so be careful the arguments you make.

    You can’t trust the Government to make the right decision, only the popular one, and the popular one is rarely motivated by rational thought like it should be. I equate the people who are condemning Dr.Lim without evidence to be of the same thought level as those who voted for Bush…twice. They decide based on impression, instinct and emotion, rather than rational and logical thought. It a shame that someone as intelligent as Dr.Lim has to become victim to an entire nation of non-critical thinkers.

    Dr.Lim WILL be proved innocent and the VICTIM of all this at the end of the trial. You should be careful the assumptions you make, because all arguments against Dr.Lim are based in the assumption that her charges to the Brunei patient are TYPICAL of her business. That’s ridiculous, and if she’s NOT charging like that for everyone, then what is the complaint?? Her name is being dragged through the mud for nothing. Its as if people think she ONLY treats rich people and charges in the millions.
    Don’t be stupid Singapore…this case was a one-off and if anyone is to blame, it pains me to say, it falls on the patient to make the right decisions when it comes to what they are and are not willing to pay. The sum was agreed to but not paid, at cost to Dr.Lim since she had to pay everyone else. I’d say the cost to her business that year alone is justification for the bills, let alone all the work she did for the patient.

  • A.Kleindienst

    We are waiting with excitement and anticipation to hear Dr Lim’s lawyers present their case against the Singapore Medical Council. Who knows that there may be some shocking discoveries of abuse of process and bad faith and governance against its members, fellow citizens of Singapore. As the General Elections are around the corner, there may be some anxious government officials fearing these revelations which may derail the election campaign!

  • Ani Istri

    Greed was Dr Lim’s only motivation and not the care of Pg Damit.
    Just because a person is wealthy, does not justify Lim’s outlandish medical bill.
    To charge this kind of money, Pg Damit should have lived.

    • LevelHeadSG

      @ Ani Istri,
      Clearly you have no critical thinking skills if you think Doctor’s are capable or liable of guaranteeing survival. The bills were high because of the unique conditions of treatment requested by the patient, not just because they are rich. You lack the mental capability to form rational arguments…clearly. Tomorrow Dr.Lim will be submit her evidence in court, will you come back here and post an apology when she proves with EVIDENCE that she has been wrongfully slandered?
      You are wrong. You are basing what your saying only on newspaper accusations ONLY. You have no idea what actually went on. Damn you for slandering such a good person as Dr.Lim. What do you even do for a living? She has been saving and improving the live of others her whole career. People like you make me sick.

      • admin

        LevelHeadSG: You are anything but a Level Head. Where did I ever make such a foolish remark as saying doctor’s are “capable or liable of guaranteeing survival?” The bills were high, my friend, because the client could pay. Do you think that Dr. Lim would have charged that much to a person of normal wealth? Giving an opinion that Dr. Lim overcharged is not slander. Legal point: opinions and beliefs are neither slander nor libel. Your emotional outburst, “Damn you,” leads me to believe that either you are deranged, have a stake in the case, or madly in love with Dr. Lim. You get even nuttier when you ask what I do for a living. Buy our book, Escape from Paradise, and you will get an idea of what I do for a living. People like you make me wonder…

  • Z Weinstein

    I’m sure the Dr has her funds put away in offshore banks.
    In my opinion, Lim is looking at herself and saying, “I’m a winner”… as Charlie Sheen would say.
    Everyone else got taken, both Singapore and Brunei.

  • LevelHeadSG


    My comment was a reply to Ani Istri hence the @Ani Istri at the beginning. The only stake I have is for the truth, and protecting those who are unjustly treated by a public who love to see others fail. Nevermind. Tomorrow onwards the truth comes out. Then we’ll see who’s been standing on the right side.

    As for the definition of slander, you’re partially correct since its more correctly termed libel since its in print form:

    A calumniator, who maliciously and without proof imputes a crime or fault to another, of which he is innocent. For this offence, when the slander is merely verbal, the remedy is an action on the case for damages; when it is reduced to writing or printing, it is a libel.

    Read your article again. Any lawyer would easily agree with me that the article is heavily biased against Dr.Lim, and based only on information released in the papers (all of which was from the prosecutions side since they are the only ones to present ‘evidence’ so far). Hence libelous. Dr.Lim has spent a lifetime building up her name, just to have people like you try to take it down for no justifiable reason. You have to admit, you must have felt pretty pleased with yourself when you were writing your article, but did you ever stop to consider the ramifications if the information were untrue? What’s on the internet is permanent, and accusations stick far longer than the facts.

    You are party to damaging a successful Doctor’s reputation and career, someone who has done far more for others than I bet you have. A responsible writer would not write opinions, because opinions are rarely based on fact.

    I can tell you’re getting frustrated and agitated. I’m just one person against you (and I believe rightly so). Imagine an entire country of people who automatically assume you’re guilty before you’ve had a chance to defend yourself. I’m just giving you a taste of what you’ve dealt out to Dr.Lim.

    Like I said, truth comes out tomorrow onwards. You’re opinions are based on facts only on one side of the case, and I doubt you’ll have the integrity to accept any evidence which defends Dr.Lim once they come out.

    If the court case proves Dr.Lim innocent will you post an article outlining the truth and how she was justified all along to make up for the above article?

  • Sure – the title of this blog is “Getting at the Truth.”

    • LevelHeadSG

      That’s appreciated and responsible, so thank you and look forward to it. We all have the right to express our opinions, but its a different time and the things we say have permanence when posted online. Thus there is a need for more accountability, temperance and responsibility for what we say, that’s all I wanted.
      An educated society gives equal rights to all its citizens even those accused. I’m just standing up for Dr.Lim because the entire country has been using the anonymity of the internet to bully her based on only the facts they want to hear. I want a return to true, researched journalism not tabloid gossip and opinion posting.

  • Tang Li

    The next couple of days are going to be fairly interesting a the court continues. I think we are going to find out more from the court hearings.

    So far, we’ve only heard the SMC’s version of the story and it would be interesting to see what Dr Lim’s team has to say about things like “The Mark Ups” and the various charges.

    For the record, I was once Susan Lim’s patient – back in 1999. No, she didn’t charge me $25 million ;). Charges were over $3000 including a private room for the day for the removal of a benign tumour in my thigh.

  • Ani Istri

    Does anyone here really think that Dr Lim would charge this $25MILLION for a patient who just has a regular job?
    Her patient was Pg Damit, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah’s sister-in-law.
    That’s right. Why not take advantage of her wealthy patient?
    There was a Dr who charged $300,000 to remove an appendix for a rich Indonesian patient in Singapore,
    and that Dr got in trouble.
    If people think $20million is fair, I say, in that case, why not charge the wealthy and now, dead patient, $50million?
    Sultan of Brunei may even pay that amount.
    We have been taken advantage of by this Dr Susan Lim.

  • youcallmechantek

    @Ani Istri

    Naaahhhh…Dr Lim wouldn’t charge that amount to any Tom,Dick Or Harry.If you request for the moon from her,don’t you think she should charge you the whole universe?

    But what makes you think that the Sultan will cough up $50 mil if people think $20 mil is fair when even $12 mil was so difficult to be pay up?

    Like Levelhead Sg pointed out, where is your critical thinking skills?

  • Tang Li

    I think we got to look at a basic fact.

    No business charges high charges all the time and yes, if a business knows the client can afford it, they’re going to try and charge more.

    Then there’s another irony – if you are exceedingly rich and known to be rich – the world comes to you and, funnily enough, with so many of the world’s people competing for your business, you are likely to get a much clearer picture of the pricing and a good deal than the poor shmucks around. If you can’t decide – you’d have a host of advisors to “look after your interest.”

    When you look at these two facts any resonable person would find it hard to believe that the Brunei Royals did not know how Susan Lim’s charges compared to other doctors in the world for the work they wanted. Does anyone seriously believe that the Brunei Royals couldn’t get a surgeon from Beverly Hills or Harley Street to fly out to Brunei to do the same thing?

  • read_the_facts_b4_you_decide

    i feel dr susan case was a very unfortunate case. Dr Lim had attended to Pengiran Damit’s medical needs before and the bill up to 2006 came to S$12 million and was paid without a fuss. So i say on business terms its a willing buyer and willing selling thing. But now the patient died already and left the bill outstanding plus the person no longer ard. Confirm they felt relucent to do the payment man and the burnei pple try to use thier political power to ask for discount which lead to more and more complications after government bodies got invovled. haiz… this is really unfortunate. looks like its up to Dr Susan to fight for her rights which i feel she will previal on a fair trial.

    Usually the rich get richer its a fact dun need to be jealous if pple can earn million dollar deals.
    pple will only pay millions for a reason. SHE MUST BE GD IN SOME WAY.

  • Tang Li

    I think the question here is whether the trial is fair or not.

    It’s hard to think of this as a fair issue when the Prosecutor (Ministry of Health headed by DMS Prof Saktu) is also the Judge (SMC Registrar who is Prof Saktu). Also says something is wrong when the rules are changed in the middle of a hearing in the interest to speeding things up as was the case with Dr Lim

    • Is any trial in Singapore fair? In my personal experience, I would bet that Singapore judges get bribed all the time, or cave in to Singapore government pressure. Judge Choo Han Teck is a prime example of the former – the guy is a crook and doesn’t follow the law. I speak from personal experience.

      • Tang LI

        All the more reason to highlight the case of abuse of power and structural flaws in system. Today the case of Susan Lim and we focus on the numbers but ignore the real story – which is the consipracy by the SMC to take the woman to task.

        The woman has the means to fight back but I wonder how many people in Singapore just roll over and let the powers that be trample over them cause they don’t have the means to launch a proper defence.

        John – money is not the main issue – it’s power. Hence the judges would probably slaughter you for slander for suggesting they take bribes – however, they are definately into “power” – hence they’ll know how to make the law suite the predetermined verdict

  • Renga Subbiah

    I had the opportunity to speak with one of Dr. Susan Lim’s patients’, a victim of the Bali bombings. He was lacerated like ham and suffered serious internal injuries. He only had this to say, ” Whenever I opened my eyes(slipping in and out of a coma) all I saw was Susan at the end of my bed like an angle”. This was without demand, anyone who demands and are of caliber to afford solid gold taps to wash themselves and pound the world with their wealth should pay.

    What kind of a king is he if he’s crying foul over a bill when he owns over 3000 worthless cars.

  • Youcallmechantek

    @admin. Hey if it’s Lasik surgery why the hell would Dr Lim be worried of getting blind if she moves too much? It’s detached retina and go get your facts right.!

  • margaret ong

    It is obviously a case of taking advantage or rather a rip-off of the wealthy and rich. It has brought Singapore’s top-class good reputation as an excellent medical centre in Asia into disrepute – shameful worldwide news whatever the outcome of the case. I was an ex-patient of Susan Lim and found her to be arrogant and not particularly good doctor and sadly, now a greedy one by all standards. Last but not least, I would like to add that Singapore’s consultants are indeed one of the best in the world through my own experience…very efficient, very honest, very knowledgable and professional.

  • Tang Li

    Generally speaking, we have a host of good doctors and our medical system is pretty good, even when compared to the more developed countries in the West.

    I do agree that Susan Lim’s charges sound high. However, I think the number has to be taken into context. It was pointed out in her legal submissions that:

    a – The bills were not issued by Dr Lim in her personal capacity and for only her services – they were issued by a substantial medical business.

    b – It is not disputed that Dr Lim had dedicated a large part of the Group’s practices to the care of the Patient for a period of 6 months from 15 Jan 2007 to 16 Jul 2007. It is also not disputed that, when Dr Lim was attending to the Patient, the Group would not be able to generate significant revenue from other patients.

    c – , Dr Lim and her team had to deliver an exceptional level of service and assume a heightened professional risk and accountability to meet the unusually onerous requirements of the Patient, such as:

    i. Setting up medical facilities in hotel suites because the Patient refused to be warded in a hospital;

    ii. Arranging an urgent medical evacuation by private air charter because the Patient wanted to spend her last days in Brunei;

    iii. Providing round-the-clock care with an intensive and punishing work schedule;

    iv. Setting up a medical team and providing the necessary infrastructure to treat the Patient in Brunei;

    I would agree that this would be a rip off if all the money went to Dr Susan Lim directly. I would also agree that this was a rip off if she got the money for doing nothing.

    However, the money does goto cover genuine cost and dare I say, it helps to feed at least 33 people who work for Dr Susan Lim.

    Then we have to look at the fact that Dr Susan Lim has always been in private practice. She has never made her money from “service to the people.” Hence what she charges should be between her and the client or patient.

    Margaret, your experiences with her were not good. So, it’s simple, don’t go to her. For me, her charges were always too high. I could only my one experience with her because my father paid the bill. I goto polyclinic when I need to be fixed. I pay a lot less than if I went to a private doctor – I simply have to accept that I won’t get the level of service.

    If you look at things from a business perspective, not only is the SMC’s process grossly flawed and an open abuse of power – it’s a case of the government interfering with the affairs of a private enterprise. As a self-employed person, I worry by the government’s passionate involvement to “save” its reputation from a private commercial affair.

  • Wiseup lah

    I’ve been reading the comments on this article, in chronological order, from the top, and have been dismayed by the ridiculous and laughable assumptions by people who have been fooled.

    But I’m glad when I got to LevelHeadSG’s posts. Sanity at last. I think LevelHeadSG summed up what the average S’porean is about – Quote: “..You people are so stupid you don’t even see when people are being slandered on purpose to slant the public view of a case to pre-determine its outcome…” AND “….The only stake I have is for the truth, and protecting those who are unjustly treated by a public who love to see others fail…” You took the words right out of my mouth, LevelHeadSG

    I’ve been following this case for some time and have commented on ST’s Salma Hayek’s fb page about it as well, in the past month or so. It amazes me how the majority of S’poreans just have no sense.

    And I’m also disappointed with you, John Harding. You, who brought us all the Yeo Cheow Tong stuff, and you fail to see the truth for what it is?

    And what’s this about saying to levelheadSg: “….Where did I ever make such a foolish remark as saying doctor’s are “capable or liable of guaranteeing survival?” — for a moment there, I was really puzzled at your outburt. As I mentioned, I was reading all the comments chronologically, and therefore it made me really puzzled, because he was referring to Ani Istri, who was frankly being very hysterical. Were you realising then, by that point, that you had put up a really baseless article about Susan Lim, and were therefore losing it?

    Please, some of us in Sg are watching this very carefully. It has long been looking like some kind of a witchhunt. And I’m glad to read today in several forums, that more people are seeing the truth (even as we have idiots like what levelheadSg has pointed out) for what it is, and urging her to go all out.

    It makes you sick to see witch hunts like that because what the other party is presenting isn’t all intact. They had better think that if they haven’t got a solid case, then better not to have it out at a time like that. Otherwise the YB Yeats poem comes to mind: “Things fall apart, the center cannot hold.”

    • admin

      Sorry to disappoint you, but I think Dr. Susan Lim’s charges are crazy, and that Brunei was stupid to agree to such charges. I have not commented on the court case, other than to say Dr. Lim is mistaken to fight the Singapore government – against the, in Singapore, you can only lose. The Singapore judges are under the strict control of the government, and no justice is done when Singapore’s interests are at stake. There is also no justice when judges like Judge Choo Han Teck take bribes. What would I do in Dr. Lim’s position? I would do exactly what I did after I suspected Rodyk of being bribed (we sued them and won a money judgment), and know what Choo Han Teck was up to – we took what we had and escaped from paradise. As crazy as her fees were, it was between two private parties and no business of Singapore. Dr. Lim should take her money, escape from paradise, and not fight a corrupt system. There is nothing left for her in Singapore.

      • Tang Li

        I think that’s the point. Dr Lim has ALWAYS been known to be at the “expensive” end of the market and if Brunei didn’t want to pay high fees they should not have gone to her in the first place.

        Instead what they did was to pay her fees without a fuss for 5-years (there by giving the implicit agreement to her charges) and then when the woman died, they decided it was too expensive and didn’t want to pay. Fact remains – work was done and payment (no matter how expensive) is due.

        In a way I agree with the point that we already know who is going to win this case. The outcome of certain court cases are predictable……Everyone in Singapore knows that. May be you are right, Dr Lim should move. Both Dr Lim and her husband are the type of countries kill themselves to have as citizens – highly wealthy and skilled professionals.

        However, the point remains – do you sit there and say ‘The system’s like that,’ or do you try and highlight the flaws in the system which will one day plant the seeds of change.

        So far this case has highlighted the way laws are changed in the middle of a proceeding to suite one party (Regulation 42) and there’s a blatant conflict of interest at work (the many hats worn by Prof K Saktu as complainant, prosecutor and judge). This is a far more serious issue to focus on than the numbers.

        • LevelHeadSG

          Its pretty indicative of the overall problem, that some would suggest Dr.Lim just ‘leave Singapore’ after spending a lifetime building up her reputation and practice. Its easy for you to just leave, but what of the thousands of patients who require ongoing care from Dr.Lim. Think before speaking please.
          I don’t expect cowards to understand why you would stand up and fight for your rights. Cowards run, and cowards use the internet to cast stones at others. Dr.Lim’s fight would be a lot easier if more Singaporeans actually cared about facts and doing the right thing. Like I said, Singapore has really shamed itself. I for one will defend the facts of the case and make sure with what little I can do that our rights are not abused by idle politicians who care only about their own reputation.
          When you read the transcripts of what the prosecution Alvin Yeo says to or about Dr.Lim, the level of disrespect, the level of callous indifference to the facts or truth of the case, you have to wonder how someone like that has any level of authority over anything.

          If anyone cares to read the defense documents are all now released and paint a very clear and different picture. Most won’t care, after all slander and idle gossip is far more interesting than the truth. I just look forward to seeing the lawsuits that Dr.Lim can quite justifiably file against a myriad of online publications.

  • I think, with all her money, it would be pretty easy for Dr. Lim to leave. She is welcome to sue us, as we need the money we could win in a countersuit. Helen Yeo never dared sue me, and failed to appear when I sued her in US Federal Court, District of Arizona.

  • Tang Li

    Na, no point being sued by Dr Susan Lim. There’s only one person who you should get sued by in Singapore ……when he sues you, it will be a sign that you’ve arrived! I don’t think I should drop names here ya 😉

  • margaret ong

    Tang li – A crime is a crime punishable by law. There is no EXCUSE whatever one has contributed to society – which is what Susan Lim is hunting for and playing ‘monkey’ ;going round in circles appealing to different quarters for so-called ‘justification’ in self-defence playing victim – who does she think she is – everyone is equal (the bottom line is she knows she is guilty and will suffer dire consequences thus running helter skelter for help to try to ‘rescue’ and clear herself scott-free! )- If this happened in the (foreign) bank that I work for, MAS will prosecute me no matter what.

    • AntiTrollSG

      To repeat the facts again. Dr.Lim has not been PROVEN guilty of anything, and the only thing leaked into the news were the ACCUSATIONS from the prosecution. She has already DISPROVEN with physical evidence all the claims made against her on March 29th.
      Please get a clue before posting negative comments about people you’ve never met. You have no idea what you’re talking about and you’re basing your judgements on sensationalist slander posted in the media. You simply read a few articles online and just believed them without any thought on your own.
      We have courts to find the truth based on fact, not on what makes you feel more important. Dr.Lim has committed no crime, since there was no complaint against her from ANY party, and there are no agreed upon standards for what Doctor’s can charge. To put in in simple English for you…there is no LAW which Dr.Lim has broken, or has even been accused of breaking because ANY businessman can charge what they want, as long as the person accepting the quote is not under duress. The patient had been paying these high fees for years, so it was nothing new.

      All cases of ‘upmarking’ have been disproved by the defensive testimony. The prosecution only had accusations, which is why they pushed it to the media because they know people such as yourself WANT to find fault with those who are better and more successful. You take sick pleasure in posting negative comments about people who you never met, with information which you don’t even think to verify, simply accept.

      Stop shaming yourself please. You are wrong…if you read the court documents you would know you are wrong. Its in plain written format for anyone to see but so many won’t because they rather post negative, hurtful things than actually know what they are talking about.