by Li Xueying (ST, 15 Oct 2005)

THE nurse could not stop talking about her faith, even as she was inserting a needle into her elderly patient’s arm.

A routine blood test at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) turned out to be a lesson in evangelical Christianity for Associate Professor Wong Weng Fai, 41, a computer science lecturer, and his 66-year-old mother, a dementia sufferer.

According to Prof Wong, a National University of Singapore lecturer, in the testing room, they were greeted by two nurses listening to Christian worship songs on a CD player. As one of them drew blood from his mother, she began evangelising.

He recounted: ‘She asked my mother in Cantonese, ‘Auntie, do you believe in Jesus?’

‘My mum was saying, ‘No, no, I’m Buddhist.’ But the nurse continued, ‘You should go to church because it’ll be good for you.”

Prof Wong felt offended. ‘They’re preying on the weaknesses of old folks, especially when they are sick and down.’

A TTSH spokesman said the hospital is unaware of the incident and that it ‘regularly reminds our doctors and care providers that proselytisation is not allowed’.

The issue of promoting one’s faith in public institutions has been in the news lately with letters in the Forum page touching on the subject.

How widespread is the practice? Should government doctors, teachers and bosses who are in positions of authority and trust be allowed to preach to their charges?

The official answer is no. But in practice, the issues are not so clear-cut, as Insight finds out.