New TCM clinic aims to reach more non-Chinese patients

Sian Chay clinic in Marsiling is its first in HDB estate with many Malay, Indian residents

The 115-year-old Sian Chay Medical Institution has opened a new traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) clinic in Marsiling, in the hope of reaching out to more non-Chinese patients.

Located at the void deck of Block 1, Marsiling Drive, it is Sian Chay's 12th clinic and its first in a housing estate with a sizeable number of Malay and Indian residents.

Sian Chay chairman Toh Soon Huat, 56, told The Straits Times that he wanted a clinic there because he noticed a growing number of non-Chinese patients at his group's clinics recently, especially those in Geylang and Whampoa.

Statistics from Sian Chay show that its other 11 clinics were seeing more than 200 ethnic Malay and Indian patients every month. The number is also rising.

Earlier this year, Mr Toh proposed setting up a clinic in Marsiling to Madam Halimah Yacob, a Member of Parliament for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, who supported it as a community partnership between Sian Chay and grassroots organisations.

Sian Chay provides free consultation, but charges a nominal fee for medicine and treatments, such as tuina (a therapeutic massage) and acupuncture.

Speaker of Parliament and MP Halimah Yacob visiting Sian Chay's Marsiling clinic last Friday. With her are (from left), the constituency's Citizens' Consultative Committee chairman Bob Shaw; vice-chairman Lim Hock Chee; and Sian Chay chairman Toh Soo
Speaker of Parliament and MP Halimah Yacob visiting Sian Chay's Marsiling clinic last Friday. With her are (from left), the constituency's Citizens' Consultative Committee chairman Bob Shaw; vice-chairman Lim Hock Chee; and Sian Chay chairman Toh Soon Huat. PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Mr Lim Hock Chee, vice-chairman of Marsiling Citizens' Consultative Committee and Sheng Siong supermarket boss, donated $300,000 - the cost of constructing the clinic. The grassroots group provided the space free.

Madam Halimah, who is also Speaker of Parliament, visited the clinic last Friday. She said it could not have come at a better time as many of her elderly residents from low-income families have chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, while many others have knee and kidney problems.

"About 30 per cent of the residents in Marsiling are Malay and another 15 per cent Indian," she said. "I have started distributing Sian Chay's pamphlets during my house visits to encourage them to go for free TCM consultations there."

Sian Chay's pamphlets now come in Chinese, English, Malay and Tamil. They explain its mission and core values as well as the charges for medicine and treatments.

Madam Halimah said racial cohesiveness and harmony go beyond trying one another's food or understanding the cultures and customs.

"It will go deeper and stronger if one group shows compassion and provides assistance to another through, for example, TCM," she said. "I am glad that more Malay and Indian Singaporeans are going for TCM treatments."

The Marsiling clinic also has a mini cafe and multi-purpose room for residents.

Meanwhile, Sian Chay raised $520,000 from a charity dinner for 500 people at Safra's clubhouse in Toa Payoh on Saturday. Mr Toh said each of its 12 clinics, including its newest in Marsiling, needs between $200,000 and $300,000 a year to operate. He hopes to have 20 clinics by 2018.

•The clinic at Block 1, Marsiling Drive, #01-59 opens daily from 9am to noon, and 1pm to 5pm. It is closed on Sundays and public holidays.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2016, with the headline 'New TCM clinic aims to reach more non-Chinese patients'. Print Edition | Subscribe