Stories

Ming Quan, the Sole Breadwinner

“I have no dreams. I’ve never had any dreams. Dreams are only for idealists; in actual fact, reality is bitter. Dreams aren’t worth pursuing, because as you’re chasing them, they’ll gradually become murkier, and at the end of the day, you’ll have no choice but to abandon them. For my generation, our chance to dream is passed down to our children; it’s for them to chase. One can’t be too idealistic; we can only afford to be down-to-earth, and realistic (脚踏实地).”

Wu Ming Quan is 44 years old, and he is from the province of Fu Jian, China. He has worked for the same company in Singapore for 10 years as a driver of the company vehicles, such as container trucks, lorries and cement trucks. He usually works at night and sleeps in the day, so he has made very few friends by nature of his work.

He is supporting his two children, a 21-year-old daughter who has been studying psychology at the university and a 16-year-old son studying in high school in the province of Pu Tien. He is supporting them alone because he and his wife separated in 2011 due to personality differences. His daughter’s school fees come up to 18,000 RMB a year. He is also supporting his elderly parents, who are more than 60 years old, because he wants to fulfil his filial duty to them.

Ming Quan was in the driver’s seat of a container truck, when the truck suddenly tipped backwards due to its imbalanced weight. When the truck finally righted itself, the shock from the fall led to a spinal injury and a damaged nerve in his left eye, affecting his vision and causing him to see double in his left eye. (The doctor’s letter states that he is suffering from left VI nerve palsy and a traumatic CSF leak.) Now, his entire spine is crooked and feels like a “rigid metal plate”, and when he wants to pick up something from the floor, he can only squat instead of bending over. When he sleeps, he feels very uncomfortable and has to keep turning, as lying down on one side for a protracted time is painful for him. 

When he was injured, he felt very upset and his mood was constantly heavy, because he was unable to work and the amount of money he could earn significantly dropped. His children were worried for him. 

His company has been paying him his MC wages, although he only earns $1,800 now, instead of his normal monthly salary of $3,000. He should be getting paid $2,200, so his company is underpaying him by $400. His employer reported WICA for him, but the nature of the injury reported was unclear until HealthServe intervened with the Ministry of Manpower to clarify. Although he would be able to make a strong case through common law, Ming Quan would rather take the compensation from WICA, because he hopes to return to his company to work after his recovery. 

His employer wanted to send him back to China to receive follow-up treatment, partly because Ming Quan has to wait for a long time in Singapore before his next doctor’s appointment. However, Ming Quan is worried that if he goes home to recover, his employer will revoke his Work Permit and not allow him to return to Singapore to work, and that he would end up having to bear the costs of the medical treatment himself. He would also like to continue being treated here in Singapore.

When he received his WICA assessment ($19,650 in compensation money), Ming Quan objected because he was only assessed for his brain and eye injuries, not his back injuries. Although he felt the assessment for his eye is fair, he wanted to be assessed for his back as well. Upon the advice from the HealthServe staff and volunteer doctors, he has decided to put in the request for a re-assessment and is currently awaiting the results.

HealthServe provided for him through the Food Project and treated him like family. Jeff helped him with his claims, liaising with the Ministry of Manpower to clarify the details. He also had fun playing card games during Saboteur. In these past ten years, he has been on every highway and road, and knows roughly where certain landmarks in Singapore are, but he has never had the time or the opportunity to go inside and take a look. It is only through the HealthServe outings that he has been able to visit these places.

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