By Joseph Lefort
In a seismic shift of epic proportions, PM Lee Hsien Loong moves from ” I’m sorry for the transport woes” in 2011 to ‘I’m very concerned’ in 2015.
Singaporeans are impressed, but not quite all of them. You see, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but… aiyah, most of you know the line right?.
The way I see it, the MRT system will continue to be plagued with frequent disruptions as well as the likes of recent massive breakdown for one simple reason: It was NEVER meant to transport more than it can handle.
The crux of the matter is the government’s growth at all costs and lax immigration policies which has not only caused much unhappiness among Singaporeans but has placed a severe strain on our infrastructure through Über population!
But isn’t this is the elephant in the room that is NOT being addressed? You don’t need to be an engineer or like they say ‘Rocket Scientist ‘ bro, its simple arithmetic.
An overworked force tending on a system round the clock that was not built to carry a heavy load will creak at the seams – and it has.
Mampos lah. If this issue of over-population is not acknowledged by the Govt & SMRT, the situation will not improve. Don’t believe me? Just take the train and see how many Indians, Pinoys, PRCs, Myanmarese and what not trying to get onto the train. Not that I have anything against them. ( need to put in this caveat right, otherwise kena banished to you know where right ?)
The sad part is, Singaporeans warned the authorities long ago.
They registered their unhappiness in an unprecedented post-war protest at Hong Lim park on 16 Feb 2013 against the Population White Paper (PWP).The message that protest sent, should have sounded loud & clear to the authorities, but it landed on ears that could not register the ‘feedback’ ( tak boleh masuk ah ) as they were caught in their own delusional world of governing.
The People’s Action Party had made up its mind; the mould was cast – there was no turning back.
Well, the result of their over population polices have come a full circle to haunt them, and there’s no escape – it is plain for all to see. It is not track fault, signal fault, the citizens fault, carriages from China’s fault or the circuit breakers fault. If it was the latter, it would have been placed in remand at IMH to check for short-circuit .
We need someone with the moxy to address the elephant in the room & take drastic actions to rectify the fault- roll up their sleeves and take a hard look at their Population White Paper , and like the Graduate Mother’s Scheme, scrap whatever does not work for the benefit of the country.
The latest breakdown comes on the heels of repeated assurances by both SMRT and the authorities about the improved reliability of our transport system.
PM Lee Hsien Loong had already apologized in 2011 for our transportation woes and promised to improve the system. Yet, the number of significant train delays reached an all-time high of 12 in 2014 and in 2015, the delays are already standing at 8. This despite billions of dollars of government funds being pumped into improving the existing MRT infrastructure since 2011.
As Senior Transport Correspondent, Christopher Tan of the SPH said in today’s Straits Times (9 July 2015) “apologies from the operator, regulator or the Government” over Tuesday’s island-wide MRT shut-down “are beginning to sound glib and hollow.”
This is another wake-up call. But will PM Lee listen?
It is not that he won’t- he CANNOT as his mind is trapped & his vision is clouded, preocupied with grandiose projects that aim to ‘put Singapore on the map of the world ‘. The problem is; a great life isn’t about massive grandiose projects – it is about getting the small things right that make a huge difference. Let’s see:
- A $71 million dollar project to make a 3D map of Singapore that will be able to find a lost cat in the parking lot.
- A multi-million dollar project to turn Singapore into a smart nation – really? The negative effects of this expensive project will be worse than public transport breakdowns!
- Demolition of familiar places, institutions, prominent landmarks we grew up with. How can one relate to the shared memories of a place if the place in question no longer exists?
- Another billion dollar terminal at Changi Airport
- The tearing down of an entire mature estate (Queenstown) under the ‘remaking of Singapore’ plan
- Loss of more green spaces for recreation, recuperation and clean air quality
- More countryside farms will not have their licenses renewed .. what is a country without a countryside?
- A planned multi-million dollar ERP satellite system
- A scary nuclear power future for Singapore at taxpayers expense …
- Planned demolition of Dakota Crescent – this following the demolition of Teban Gardens and other estates to ‘ maximise its land use’ which will contain units that are smaller, in buildings that are taller and closer to each other .
Let me just clarify that I am not against development, but the loss of a country’s heritage threatens its very identity.
I am also not a member of any opposition political party, nor am I an anti-PAP ranter – in fact I supported the latter Party in the last election & even influenced others to do likewise.
I am simply a true blue Singaporean who is frustrated at the growth at all costs policies of this present government which has pulverized much of our country – its landscape, the natural environment, history, tradition, amenities, the privacy and spaciousness of life, much beauty, and the fragile, slow-growing social structures that bind us together.
Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew is “extremely concerned”. You can be concerned until the cows come home, but no one can be more concerned than the ones taking the trains. I do.
Furthermore, “expressing concern” is something that we can all do, including the commuter rushing home to have dinner with his family.
But it has been nearly three years and the problem keeps getting worse. Minister Lui should resign. If he stays, it means the government is willing to accept mediocre performance and that we too should expect and accept mediocrity from them. They should implement six sigma and chop the weakest link.
But, of course, they rather focus on accelerating their growth. Who cares about productivity since population Ponzi based economy is what they are after.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong went further – in fact it was a ‘seismic shift ‘ from being ‘sorry’ in 2011 to “very concerned” in 2015.
But with all due respect, talk is cheap.
Being concerned does not help at all – we need peace of mind in an already very stressful environment when travelling and not some gobbledegook on how to fix the system after it has faulted.
Hong Kong MTR was built much earlier than SG MRT and Japan’s subway is much older than both. We don’t see such frequent major breakdowns in both Hong Kong and Japan subways compared to Singapore MRT.
My relative from Hong Kong watsapped us to say that it would be unthinkable for something similar to happen to their MTR. It is totally unacceptable for PAP to try and use the excuse of an aging system to white wash off their responsibility.People are also beginning to question the sincerity of PM’s ‘concern’ coming so close to a general election.
I used to be a hard core supporter of the PAP. I was one of the 60% who believed in this Party . But the PAP of today is no longer what it used to be under Lee Kuan Yew .
In his 1984 national day address then PM LKY said : “Singapore under the PAP must be an efficiently run country and if not, those at the helm of a system / service that do not deliver, must be replaced. The PAP under PM Lee Hsien Loong said “Foreign investors will run away and our economy will collapse if our Government does not fix the MRT train disruption problem…these same words was said many years ago by the PAP Govt urging Singaporeans not to vote for the opposition….’
In emphasising the importance of keeping the legacy of LKY intact, Mr Lee Hsien Loong should do the right thing and tender in his resignation along with those at the helm of SMRT.
Instead, no heads have rolled as called for by former PM LKY and as recently suggested by Mr Khaw Boon Wan in parliament .None have also attempted hara kiri. No surprise though, for in another ‘seismic shift ‘ policy that betrays the essence of what made the PAP admired and respected by its citizens, this is what PM LHL said in 2008.
“We will not just blame the officers directly involved. Those with supervisory oversight, or who are responsible for flawed systems, will also be held to account. This does not mean that if a lapse occurs down the line, every level in the chain of command, up to and including the Minister should automatically be punished or removed… We should not encourage a culture where officials and Ministers resign whenever something goes wrong on their watch, regardless of whether or not they are actually to blame.”
Yet the PAP has shown that it can be merciless when the opposition or its citizens makes mistakes, calling them to commit suicide, suing them & utilising all the machinery at their disposable to silence those with opposing views including teenagers.
How pathetic! I feel ashamed of my government and more ashamed because those that speak out against these injustices are in a minority.
As of now, Singaporeans have been greatly inconvenienced by the train service breakdowns, but been spared serious casualties. I dread the day when another tragedy happens with human casualties. I take the trains often and my fear is genuine because of the negative track record of the trains as well as of the PAP under PM Lee Hsien Loong.
When you bring a faulty product to a supplier whom you’ve patronised and he cant fix or explain the malfunction, it gives the impression that the supplier is either not interested in aftersales service, is incompetent, or doesnt have a good knowledge of his product. You have every right to source for an alternative supplier in future – correct or wrong ?
There are a few options for you – make a wiser choice the next time.
Will you join me in giving other suppliers a chance ? After all what difference can it make when so much damage is already done to our country, some of them irreversible.