Merry Christmas to our unsung heroes in government hospitals

“Have you got insurance and a medical card?”

That is something we often hear – and not just from insurance agents. Friends and family also ask this question, more often than not, after they had a run-in with a medical issue.

Don’t even talk about being admitted to a private hospital where it can cost an arm and a leg – to fix your arm or leg!

I discovered this several months ago. Luckily, I had just upgraded my medical card, so everything was covered – except for an RM300 charge.

The good news was that my “health scare” was not serious. The bad news meant I must be careful with my diet – but at least I have peace of mind. I would probably not have undergone the barrage of tests immediately if I did not have a medical card.

If I had gone to a government hospital, the quality of care would be similar, just that there would be a long waiting list.

However, I have seen first-hand how good government hospitals are as I regularly sent my sister for her check-ups at the Serdang Hospital.

As a senior citizen, she gets to see a doctor and collect her medicine for free. Sure, there is a long wait, but it is similar at most private hospitals these days.

Once, when my daughter was unwell, it took a private hospital near our home over three hours to get a room ready.

An uncle recently was admitted to Serdang Hospital’s heart unit, and he, too, marvelled at the quality of care he received – saying it was better than the one he received at a private hospital and a fraction of the cost.

My mum-in-law in Sarawak is also a “frequent visitor” to the Bau Hospital, and the frequency has increased in the last several months.

Just this past week, she was admitted for five days and had to take an ambulance ride from Bau to Kuching – more than 30km away – on Wednesday for some tests.

The speed and efficiency – the round trip to Kuching and back, including the tests, took 150 minutes – surprised me, even though I know how hard our doctors work.

Despite the long hours and with Christmas around the corner – Sarawak is the only state in Malaysia where Christianity is the dominant religion – every single doctor and nurse we encountered was warm and friendly.

To all doctors, nurses and those in the healthcare profession, thank you for your service.

May your Christmas wishes come true – including increased on-call rates last reviewed in 2012.


If you are worried about the increase in Covid-19 cases and want to get a booster shot, fret not.

There are 234 Vaccination Centers in Health Clinics in Malaysia, and you can walk into one to get your Covid-19 vaccine.

If you prefer to make an appointment, log on to your MySejahtera mobile application and follow the steps.

The taking of the vaccines is voluntary but encouraged for those high-risk groups such as the elderly or persons with comorbidities.

Vaccines are effective in protecting against severe complications in case of infection.

For the record, the highly contagious JN.1 strain has made its way to our shores.


The Spritzer Winter Fiesta returns to the Spritzer EcoPark in Taiping, Perak, until Jan 14.

The EcoPark is open from 9am to 11pm, and entrance is free. From today until Christmas Day, there will be six sessions of ‘snowfall’ per day – 6.30pm, 7.30pm, 8.15pm, 9pm, 10pm and 10.45pm!

The EcoPark’s breathtaking transformation includes shimmering elfin lights draping the trees, casting a warm glow on winding pathways. Gigantic arches and holiday decor crafted from Spritzer used and rejected materials to add a whimsical charm.

The centrepiece is a 28-foot tall Christmas tree, resplendent in all its glory, a dazzling spectacle adorned with sparkling lights and ornaments crafted from recycled Spritzer bottles.

Besides ‘winter fun’, indulge in activities such as pedal karting, DIY crafting workshops, mini golf with LED golf balls, exclusive sales promotions, contests and more.


Instead of a recipe, this week we have tips every home baker needs.


John Lennon’s anti-war hit – Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – released in 1971, has become a Christmas standard, covered by numerous artists.

To close out this week’s Diary, we have a version sung by Miley Cyrus and Mark Ronson, featuring Sean Lennon on guitar, from Saturday Night Live in 2018.

With what is happening in Gaza and Ukraine, we can only hope that ‘war is over’.

Bong Natal, folks.

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