By Mr Jimmy Ho
22 December 2011
The recent spate of breakdowns of the Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT) system is a concern for most Singaporeans. There were people blaming the system’s maintenance, with some pointing their fingers at Ms Saw Phaik Hwa, its CEO, for not giving the smooth running of trains or its alternative backup transports the deserving attention. Then, there were others who felt that the SMRT had too many businesses in its portfolio than it could handle, which distracted it from its “core” business.
I believe that most forwarded views were relevant to the issue on hand, except that the points mentioned were grossly more symptomatic than being the actual problem itself. Let me explain.
People connected to substantial shareholdings of the SMRT do not usually take the public transport, but they are the ones who decide if the company has performed or if the CEO is acceptable. Their immediate interest in the Corporation would be the return on their investments than the services’ efficiency, sad to say. As a listed entity, it is only logical that the SMRT management put priority on being “answerable to its shareholders” over providing the Singapore public with a smooth transport system. And with an increase of annual profits from $57m to $161m, there is no reason why these shareholders should think of Ms Saw as not doing a fine job and remove her.
Written by Ng E-Jay
20 December 2011
The defects in our train systems are systemic in nature, and it would take a great deal of effort, resources and political will to get them fixed. Our engineering designs, the hardware, and the emergency procedures have all gone haywire.
What has gone wrong? Why is it that the whole apparatus and infrastructure seem to be tumbling down? The answer might lie deep within the corporatist system that has been created by the government, in which SMRT and LTA operate.
To begin with, SMRT does not just operate the train system. Its corporate portfolio includes buses, taxis, retail outlets, advertisement hosting, leasing of media spaces, provision of repair services, and provision of engineering expertise to other transport operators, both local and overseas.
Written by Ng E-Jay
18 December 2011
Does SMRT value its property over the well-being of its commuters? That is the impression I got when reading media reports about Thursday’s major breakdown along the North-South MRT line.
Firstly, SMRT has stated that emergency ventilation and lighting should have come on when power supply to the train was cut off. The reality however, as reported by the mainstream media, is that commuters were left gasping for air inside the train carriages, which were plunged into darkness. So what has happened here? Why were the emergency systems not in operation? The health and safety of commuters was evidently jeopardized.
The Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS), according to SMRT, is supposed to last at least 45 minutes, giving rescue teams sufficient time to tow the train to the next available station. However, commuters reported experiencing “unbearable heat”, and there were fainting spells. A couple of commuters had to be sent to hospital after they had been rescued. This situation is inexcusable, as it is clear that something has seriously gone wrong with the emergency systems.
SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has ordered a public inquiry, after trains on the North-South Line broke down on Saturday morning – the third MRT disruption in four days.
Speaking to reporters on Saturday afternoon, Mr Lee said the committee of inquiry will be similar to that formed after the Nicoll Highway collapse in 20 April 2004.
More immediately, a thorough check of the rail system will begin on Saturday after, after the train services end.
SINGAPORE: Train services between Ang Mo Kio and Marina Bay stations have been disrupted, in the third service breakdown this week for Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT).
SMRT in a statement on Saturday advised commuters on the affected stretches to use other transport modes or take bus bridging services provided between Ang Mo Kio and Raffles Place, as well as Marina Bay and City Hall.
As at 9:00 am, SMRT said the northbound service from Raffles Place to Jurong East station is available.
Written by Ng E-Jay
16 December 2011
For all the hype about Singapore having a “first world” public transport system, our frequent train breakdowns and service lapses easily relegate our system to third world status.
You can make up the propaganda about the Singapore system (in particular, its public transport system) being clean and efficient, but you can’t make up the statistics. There have a grand total of 8 trains disruptions on the MRT Circle Line since its phased opening in 2009. The Circle Line’s chequered history include a construction tunnel collapse in 2004 which killed four people, and a construction site cave-in in 2008.
You’d think these incidents can only happen in poorer countries where construction companies use inferior raw materials and employ substandard construction practices.
Title: A Nation Awakes. Frontline Reflections
Editor: Tan Jee Say
Date & Time: 6.00 pm Friday 16 December 2011
Venue: 38 Orchard Road Singapore 238836 (next to Citibank at Macdonald House, Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station)
Press conference: 5.00 pm Friday 16 December 2011
Press enquiries: [email protected]
Book Size: 150mm x 225mm
Price: $38 before GST, $40.66 after GST
Categories: Memoir, Non-fiction, History
Published by: Ethos Books
Written by Ng E-Jay
09 December 2011
The Singapore System is broken. The recent taxi fare hikes show just how broken the system is.
By themselves, price increases are part and parcel of a normal modern economy. But that is provided they are driven by genuine demand in a free market system where competition is not only permitted but actively encouraged. Price increases should be accompanied by rising wages. They should also not be the product of excessive liquidity, monopolistic business practices, excessive government intervention, protectionism, and other anti-competitive behaviour.
The recent taxi fare hikes are not an example of free market competition and healthy economic development. They are instead an example of anti-competitive behaviour that will end up hurting both consumers as well as taxi drivers. The only entities that will benefit are the taxi companies. That is the crux of the Singapore System — it is a system designed so that the owners of assets and the lenders of capital are free to enslave the mortgagees of assets and the borrowers of capital, with the full acquiescence and permission of the ruling PAP government.
Written by Ng E-Jay
08 December 2011
Several months ago, it suddenly dawned on me that we might well be the first generation in contemporary human history to fail to leave for our children a better world than the one we inherited from our parents. It was a very sobering thought.
We can, in fact, see the writing clearly on the wall. The Western countries as well as Japan are suffocating under a mountain of debt, a huge financial burden that they will undoubtedly pass on to the next generation. Even if they manage to inflate away their debt through money printing and currency depreciation, they will still leave for their children an impoverished society, not to mention the immense destruction that this action will wreck on the global economy.
The peace and stability afforded by the end of the Cold War and the liberalization of international trade is now past its prime. We are collectively heading toward a new era of heightened geopolitical turmoil. Asia is expected to be a geopolitical power keg in the years to come, with China coming to the end of its 30-year boom and other nations looking to exploit the situation and reassert themselves. The balance of power in the Middle East has been completely turned upside down by George Bush Junior’s disastrous wars. Russia is re-emerging and is looking again to threaten the stability of Eurasia. The geopolitical calm of the last 30 years is slowly but surely coming to an end.