Tan Kin Lian Rants about Doctor Explaining to Him the Risk of Colonoscopy – Internet Goes Crazy


Remember Tan Kin Lian?

He is best known for standing in the 2011 Presidential Election and finishing fourth place out of four candidates (last) with 4.91% of votes.

Tan had solid credentials in the business world. He was the former CEO of NTUC Income and after stepping down in 2007, he became an outspoken political and social activist with a substantial following.

After the 2011 election, Tan gradually faded away from the public view, but remained active on his public Facebook page which has a following of over 9,000 fans. He will regularly post updates on his musings about life, as well as political and social commentaries.

Recently, one of his rant about an “irresponsible” doctor who wasted 15 minutes of Tan’s time explaining the risk of colonoscopy sparked got the internet going crazy – not exactly with good words for Tan:


Tan’s post in full:

I spent 15 minutes with the doctor at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. He spent 5 minutes to explain to me the risk of colonoscopy. The chance of a failed surgery is x%, the chance of missing a tumor is y%, etc.

Is this really necessary for a routine procedure like a colonoscopy?

What is the purpose of explaining the risk? The patient did not spend 10 years in medical school and in getting a masters. How can the patient decide if it is all right to proceed with the surgery?

The doctor wanted to push the responsibility to the patient. If they make a mistake, they can say – we did tell you about the risk.

In the old days, the doctor takes the responsibility to decide if the operation is risky or not. If it is risky, they will not carry out the operation. If not, they will carry it out.

If they make a mistake or are negligent, they will take the rap. If they acted responsiblity and the operation was not successfully, they will prove that they acted propertly.

Today, they want to wash their hands from the responsibility. And they still want to charge exorbitant fees.

There is something wrong with our soceity. So much greed and so little responsibility.

To be fair to Tan, his line of questioning does merit a debate – should doctors be taking on more responsibility and help patients make more informed choices than just pass on the baton by loading them with too much medical information which they may not understand. It brings on the more complex issues about doctor-patient trust and lawsuits that may result. By keeping their advices as clinical as possible, doctors are playing safe, but patients may not be the best-advised to make the most appropriate judgement call on whether to go ahead with a risky operation.

However, his personal anecdote leading into the debate is not framed appropriately, seemingly to insinuate that the doctor who spent 15 minutes going through the risk of colonoscopy with Tan is being irresponsible and wasting Tan’s time. He went on to rant about the exorbitant healthcare costs and the good old days where policemen used to wear shorts and doctors used to do whatever they want. He also questioned whether colonoscopy is even a necessary procedure, even though colorectal cancer or colon cancer is the second most common cause of death among men and the third most common among women in Singapore. He ended off the post saying there is “so much greed and so little responsibility”, which certainly didn’t help the overall petty tone of his rant.

Comments came in fast and furious and most of them were either poking fun at Tan or defending the doctor, while he tried to brush the comments off by saying “nothing is perfect”:

Tan tried again to engage with the comments, defending his point about letting the doctor take the responsibility of making medical decisions on his behalf by saying that “some people also die when they cross the road”:

This totally made things worse and the backlash came in quickly:

Two of the top comments with close to a hundred likes and over 200 likes respectively were not supportive of Tan’s post:

Online personality, Mr Brown, probably sums it up best with regards to everyone whom had read Tan’s post:

Then again, if you are familiar with Tan’s online postings and have been following him for some years, you will probably know that he had always been some sort of an oddball with quirky thoughts.

Tan Kin Lian enjoys posting videos too and you should totally check out some of his weirdest online videos compiled here, including gems like how to use a flashlight during a blackout and how to call Starhub’s hotline. 

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