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Source: Today video screengrab.

Glossing over mistakes and sweeping them under the carpet does not solve the problem

by Ghui

In a somewhat bemusing interview, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan has given a statement following the latest debacle that has hit the nation's Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) after a string of fiascos.

If the Joo Koon collision had been a once off incident, the public might have been more forgiving. Unfortunately, this accident is just one of the many that has plagued the MRT in the past few years. From numerous delays, to deaths and floods, this collision is just yet another mishap.

Yet despite these misfortunes, the powers be appear to modulate the incident in a number of ways.

First off was the joint statement issued by the LTA and SMRT whereby they tried to pass the collision off as a mere matter of trains "coming into contact".

Next, we had Minister of Law and Home Affairs, K Shanmugam attempting to soften the accident by heaping irrelevant praise on Minister Khaw's past achievements in another government department and focusing on the difficulty level of the job which appears to serve as a tactic of distraction.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also joined the fray by once again expressing his confidence in the beleaguered Minister Khaw.

Then we have the man of the moment himself, giving an interview whereby he has tried to put on a brave face. Honestly, I don't doubt Mr Khaw's good intentions but is that enough for him to continue in a job where he has now been inextricably linked to failure?

Minister Khaw said a number of things in the above interview that troubled me.

Firstly, he said that he would give himself four years to do the job. Given that he is part of a democratic system, it is disturbing that he considers himself, a public servant, as having the right to set his own timelines? He is accountable to the public and it is the public that is paying his salary!

I wonder if that is part of the problem – that those in the power see themselves as being able to dictate how long the public should have confidence in them for?

Secondly, he expressed that while it was regrettable that the incident occurred, he was back to the "same old job". Really? I would think that he should do something that is very far from the "same old job". Clearly the "same old job" has led to a whole series of problems!

He also appeared to suggest that while it was unfortunate that the collision took place, we should "get on with it" and move on. I disagree vehemently with this sentiment. It is not for him to unilaterally decide that we should just get on with it.

This incident (one of many) has affected thousands of tax paying Singaporeans. We need to know exactly what is going on before we can decide if we can move forward or not. Glossing over mistakes and sweeping them under the carpet does not solve the problem. It has barely been a week after this unfortunate incident, should there not be more questions asked before instructing us to move on? It is no wonder that Singaporeans do not at all buy it.

Lastly, he stated that he was confident and that good progress has been made. I truly found it shocking that he could say that so soon after yet another problem with the MRT. Sorry Minister, it isn't progress just because you insist that it is so.

If public confidence has been hurt, why are they insisting on doing things the same way?