Me And My Car

A doctor's mobile office

In 2013, Dr Jipson Quah bought the Mitsubishi Lancer for $36,000 and, in 2016, renewed its certificate of entitlement for five years for $24,000.
In 2013, Dr Jipson Quah bought the Mitsubishi Lancer for $36,000 and, in 2016, renewed its certificate of entitlement for five years for $24,000.PHOTOS: KONG YONGYAO

Dr Jipson Quah treats his 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer as a mobile office and locker room

I take in the cosily familiar environment of Dr Jipson Quah's consultation room, which has a faint but distinctive whiff of medical disinfectant.

Medical paraphernalia sits on the desk, while colourful anatomical charts and pathology research papers adorn the walls.

The 31-year-old general practitioner says: "I chose to continue my career in clinical practice in the community because I desired patient contact and interaction.

"General practice can be as specific or broad as the patient needs it to be. We are often the first point of contact for the patient."

Despite being a GP, he is not desk-bound. In fact, he commutes quite a lot, which explains the mileage on his 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer GLX 1.6.

When he bought the car secondhand in 2013, it had 75,000km on the odometer. Now, it has more than 220,000km.

  • What's in the boot?

  • • A pair of sports shoes, soccer boots, shin pads and boxing gloves

    • A weight belt

    • Tennis rackets and balls

    • Audio recording equipment (in the big box with colourful lid)

    • Cables (in the white box)

    • A hard drive

    • A USB drive

    • A portable charger

    • Water bottles

    • Umbrellas

    • Stationery

    • Name cards

That translates to an average annual mileage of more than 24,000km - nearly 50 per cent higher than the national average.

"I need to travel around often for meetings and conferences," Dr Quah says. "Sometimes, I go to different clinics. I also make home visits."

He describes his red Mitsubishi Lancer, which he paid $36,000 for, as a "workhorse". In 2016, he renewed its certificate of entitlement (COE) for five years for $24,000.

Why did he not get a new ride?

Dr Quah, who is married with three daughters aged two to six, says: "The car is just a means of transport. I wanted to save money for other things like my home and my family."

But he picked the Lancer - his first and only car - also because he likes the car's styling.

"Clearly, a lot of people do too," he notes. "It is such an old model, but even today, there are so many still around."

The car's boot is filled almost to the brim with stuff, including a professional audio recording system.

Dr Quah is also a keen classical pianist. "This car has taken me to many of my recitals," he says. "I have played at the Victoria Concert Hall and also at Singapore General Hospital to raise funds for medical research."

He records his recitals "to check for errors, presentation, quality".

Having to juggle a hectic schedule of work, music and family, Dr Quah says he appreciates time on the road.

"My car is a retreat sometimes," he says. "Listening to music in the car has inspired many of my musical productions. I have also spent many hours just sitting in the carpark typing e-mails. It is almost like a mobile office."

Despite its age and high mileage, the car has been trouble-free.

"It is extremely reliable," he says. "The only major work it has ever required is a radiator change. It is also cheap to service and the parts are affordable."

When its COE expires, Dr Quah knows he has to let it go, but he is ready for a change.

"A small sedan is starting to feel a bit squeezy," he confesses. "I might need to get an SUV."

• The writer contributes to Torque, a motoring bi-monthly published by SPH Magazines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2019, with the headline 'A doctor's mobile office'. Print Edition | Subscribe