In the first case of it kind, two Indonesian men who agreed to sell their kidneys have pleaded guilty to organ trading offences under the Human Organ Transplant Act. Court documents cite 55-year-old Mr Tang Wee Sung, executive chairman of retail giant CK Tang, as one of the patients who had offered to pay about 150 million rupiah (about $22,200) to Sulaiman Damanik. Although Mr Tang did not get his transplant because police investigations put a stop to the transaction, Ms Juliana Soh returned to Medan after receiving her kidney at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in March this year. Both patients were treated by renal physician Dr Lye Wai Choong, president of the Society of Transplantation (Singapore), who has a clinic at the Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre.
The high profile names must present a moral dilemma for Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who claimed that "no matter how desperate the situation is, we must never break the law." The last time he had to face down powerful personalities was when NKF CEO TT Durai and Chairman Richard Yong marched into his office for an opinion on the SPH defamation suit. During a walkabout in the 2006 general elections he stood his grounds about not be able to claim anything for bills that are below below the deductible amount, when a retiree asked for help with his monthly medical bill, which was just $1.00 short of the $20.00 limit. Except for this reneging of his no means test election promise, Mr Khaw's record has proved to be more acceptable than that of his cabinet colleagues. Specifically, nobody can do worse than the Home Affairs Minister with his Mas Selamat Kastari cartoonish escape from the Whitely Road Detention Center, the breakout debacle from the Subordinate Courts lock-up, and the embarassing revelation that a man could sail past airport security checkpoints with a wrong passport. In all three instances, only the "small people" were taken to task, although the public is still baying for the resignation of the Home Affairs Minister.
The duo who sold their kidneys are expected to be sentenced within a week, but what about the buyers, the "runner" and the doctor who made the organ swop in the operating theater?