People’s Voice Party leader Lim Tean took to his Facebook page on Saturday (18 Apr) and shared a photo of commuters cramped in the train, calling out the Government over the policy of reducing train frequency without considering the public health concern amid COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Lim said that he was shocked that the Government still allowed MRT train services to be reduced given that it has been preaching about social distancing and even fining people for not following the guidelines.
He questioned, “Yes, trains are much more crowded now, people are less than 1 metre apart on the trains when they are forced to take up alternate seats. If we were to follow the seat markings, people are only seated 0.5m apart, how is it possible to practice social distancing on trains when the train frequency is lesser?”
Mr Lim then said, “Nice way to put essential workers at risk. What a way to prioritize corporate profits over health and common sense in the midst of a plague.”
He decried the Government for making profit instead of putting effort in containing the spread of virus.
“You want to make money or you want to seriously contain the virus? You can only choose one. You cannot have your cake and eat it,” he noted.
“Anyway you have made enough in the past. It is now time to sincerely provide transportation as a service to the public. It’s not about making money but serving the public as it was meant to be. Not everything should be privatised. Money has made us lose our way. [COVID-19] is a wake-up call to return to the right path of service to the public,” he added.
Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced on 14 April that it will adjust operating hours and frequency of public buses and trains services to “mitigate the significant financial impact caused by the reduced riderships and help keep public transport operations financially sustainable”.
“LTA and the operators will ensure that there is sufficient space for commuters to maintain safe distancing from one another,” LTA said in its statement.
Instead of “wasting precious resources” by operating empty buses and trains, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on 18 April also voiced that the adjustments for public transport services will be a “better match supply with demand”.
“But we will do so carefully, without causing unnecessary crowding and undermining safe distancing policy,” he said in its Facebook post.
Netizens criticise the Government for making a mockery of social distancing measures
With that being said, upon reading Mr Lim’s post, many netizens criticised the Government for imposing a contradictory measure against COVID-19 which “makes a mockery of any social distancing measures”. As the public transport’s frequency reduced, there will be more people crowded in the public transport, and subsequently it is impossible to render social distancing, the netizens says.
At the same times, the netizens also slammed the Government for being incompetent and uncoordinated policy in implementing precautions against COVID-19. For the reason of cutting the cost, the authorities practiced “half-hearted social distancing”, putting the commuters at risk of being infected with the virus. It is also wasted all the social distancing stickers, distancing tape and the PR marketing efforts, one netizens say.
A few netizens also pressed on the “double standard” of the Government when imposing a fine for those who do not comply with the safe distancing rules. The netizens questioned whether commuters who breach the rules will be fined as same as those vehicle that used to transport foreign worker who did not follow safe distancing.
Not same in Singapore, some netizens pointed out that the other countries will provide extra frequent of public transport services as well as encourage staggered office hours or reduce working hours in a bid to ease the crowd during peak hours. “If SMRT intends to practise, enforce safe distancing measures in each train cabin, SMRT shouldn’t reduce the frequency of its train service,” a netizen wrote. “We cannot afford to wait for another, another, and another train, because all of us will be late for work.”