Monday, August 31, 2009

Knee Jerk Diatribe

In a stunning show of organisational incompetence, SMRT delivered extreme disappointment once again.

At approximately 6.20pm on 31 August 2009, Northbound trains were completely disrupted flooding Raffles and City Hall stations with massive crowds. Subsequent overland travel by buses of said corporation were over-taxed as commuters struggled to find alternative routes home on bus routes.

Yes, there will be reasons to explain this "disruption" but be they technical, human errors or suicide are not important and I'll address this later.

Firstly, I would like to congratulate SMRT on first quarter FY2010 net profits of $48.2m announced on 31 July 2009. In a year of severe recession and plunging consumer spending, this report of net profit is nothing short of an economic and financial miracle.

One might think, that this $48.2 million dollars be put to good use through capital re-investment and infrastructure upgrading and maintenance. I would imagine that in order for such amazing year-on-year growth to continue, these profits must be used to update and upgrade both man and machine.

That said, should this disruption be caused by a track fault or technical issue, SMRT would have absolutely no logical or rational defence for such an occurrence. After all, these issues occur with such regularity (every 3 weeks) you would think that SMRT had difficulty affording regular care for their rail networks.

If the slowdown and halt in Northbound train services was the result of human error, you would think that such amazing profits translated to incredible bonus pay cheques for rank and file workers. With the amount of revenue available to SMRT, the company would be able to pay for top notch train operators and service crew. Hence, "human error" should be minimised, after all, by that same token, our well-paid ministers are nothing short of infallible.

If the stop in services was caused by a suicide. I offer my condolences and I beseech this GLC to implore the authorities to reconsider social and economic policies that are leading a percentage of the citizenry to such drastic acts of self termination.

Few issues to note, REFUNDS offered by SMRT within 3 days are not compensation enough for time costs and opportunities lost.

SMRT, a company of considerable scope and girth, offering a portfolio of bus AND train services are completely and disproportionately incompetent in organising shuttle bus services for affected routes. Marshaling a fleet of buses to ferry affected passengers to stops along the train route would have made more sense than offering a "cop-out" cash refund.

If you consider the magnitude of stupidity involved, the mind boggles.

In a city-state where the Minister Mentor boasts of a 20 minute ride from one end of the country to another, this writer took 2 hours to get home from city CBD to the country's center.

When you start to put the pieces of the puzzle together, it's not difficult to understand the average Singaporean psyche. When you work 12 hour days for economic progress, survival and little job security, and it takes you over 1 hour to get home just in time to see your kids go to bed. Why bother having children at all?

Like the philosophical riddle- "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?", one has to wonder, if the children never see their parents around, do they exist?

When you start to add up the policies that have led to the strain on public transport infrastructure, you can understand that it's not complete inaptitude on the part of SMRT management.

In a country where the ruling party makes simplistic decisions on economic and foreign talent policies (more inputs = more output therefore more GDP), it doesn't take Einstein to figure out that the MRT networks are currently bursting at the seams with the overload. SMRT will never be able to make allowances and plan contingencies as a result of untenable government foreign labor policies.

When SMRT Corp began operations in August 1987, transport planners obviously did not account for the ridiculous importation of over 1 million "RESIDENTS" that would eventually tax and over burden the transit system.

There are 4 train types currently in service:
- Kawasaki Heavy Industries C151, capable of taking 1920 passengers. Used since 1987.
- Siemens C651 Cars, with a capacity for 1920 passengers as well, in service since 1994.
- Kawasaki Heavy Industries & Nippon Sharyo C751B, used since 2000.
- Alstom Metropolis C830, 931 passengers, servicing the circle line since May 2009.

My point is this, if train capacities remained the same throughout the years, with MINIMAL change to train frequency since our FT boom, imagine the strain to the 22 year old system.

I offer you this to consider
- if you pay your transport minister SGD2.5 million per year, should you expect better transport planning?
- if the transport council approves yearly fare hikes where the SMRT Corporation can earn $48.2 million profit during the "worst recession since the great depression", should you expect excellent train service?

Finally, have we reached this numbness with the "bitter medicine" that we no longer care or expect minimum standards from our elite civil "servants" or govt-linked corps like SMRT and Temasek Holdings?

Do we still even care if we're getting fucked over or are we just lying there like the dutiful wife for yet another round of marital rape?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

So which is baby, Spits or swallows?

Dictionary definitions of "Pledge"
  • To bind or engage by promise or declaration; to engage solemnly; as, to pledge one's self.
  • A solemn binding promise to do, give, or refrain from doing something: signed a pledge never to reveal the secret; a pledge of money to a charity.
  • Something given or held as security to guarantee payment of a debt or fulfillment of an obligation.
  • The condition of something thus given or held: put an article in pledge.
So, when the highest paid elder statesmen and first generation political leader of independent Singapore categorically states that The Pledge is an aspiration and not ideology, I have to ask myself, what should I make of these other pledges:
  • The wedding vows- "I pledge that I will honor my wife"
  • Pledges of Allegiance
Are the vows taken merely aspirations? That I may hold on to the claims made and discard them at personal leisure and whim?

What then of allegiance? That loyalty to King and country are mere drinking toasts?

more to come, will update after work