Monday, May 25, 2009

Why there is no subsidy for the poor....

I'm overseas until the end of this week. Was sent to one of those miserable countries where everything is subsidised - free medical care, unemployment benefits and care for the aged. Obviously, the leaders here have not heard about the great success of Singapore and how we have created so much happiness in our society by avoiding subsidies. Strange that there are so many smiling people here - they must be trying to hide their misery from a foreigner.

The CEO of SMRT goes to work in a Mercedes. She deserves it because the profits of SMRT has doubled in the past few years. Even as the economic crisis put thousands of Singaporeans out of the job, the SMRT's latest quarter results show another increase in profits. Yes, the CEO deserves the credit for this success and along with it, her Mercedes Benz. As the CEO of SMRT, her main KPI is PROFITS - the more, the merrier. You may think that being a virtual monopoly makes it easy to turn a profit - it is not like Singaporeans have many options when it comes to public transport. You may think of it like this lower frequency of trains = higher profits, higher density packing of trains = higher profits, higher fares = higher profits, and so on. There is little to be gain in the way of efficiency when it comes to public transport after operating for a few years so the gains have to come from the customers. You guys might want to scream about being packed like sardines on the trains or the countless fare hikes. But I asked you to hold back. It is not even your turn to complain yet. It isn't even the turn of the poor people struggling with the fare increase - they too have to wait.....and those students in poly who complain about the lack of subsidy...please wait. See, in the pursuit of profits through the endless squeezing of Singaporeans (financial and in the MRT trains), they have really squeezed the people all the way ...even the handicapped are not spared. Last weekend, in Hong Lim, a group of them gathered to protest for higher subsidies. It is already hard enough for them to get a decent job and they too are made to struggle with those high fares.

The CEO of SMRT deserves her Mercedes ride to work but the blind, deaf, and wheelchair bound don't deserve a subsidy so that their lives can just a little better. The Mercedes comes when profits grow and giving the poor, disabled and old a more affordable fare does not help with the maintenance of that Mercedes. If that is the spirit with which we run our 'public' transport system....what does that say about everything else?


justme said...

spot again with your commentary mr lucky tan. only if the higher ups listen to people on the ground and not just depend on inaccurate or misconstrued metrics to evaluate performance :)

Anonymous said...

Maybe one day, we should just outright shoot all the disabled and disadvantaged, just like what Hitler did during WW2.

Anonymous said...

PM insisted that our 2% GST increase is to help the poor (which I believe should include the handicap)?

Is there a follow-up on where the 2% goes to? It is time to evaluate.

To the anonymous of 2nd comment: Your statement is discriminatory. What if one of this is your son?

Anonymous said...

no wonder my broker asked me to buy into smrt. spot-on, he was, on this monopolistic grip of smrt.

it's so hard to teach young children abt compassion and kindness; the more you try, the more they will grow up disenchanted with the present system.

what to do???

Anonymous said...

U usually understand compassion and kindness when you need someone to give you a break.

If you are usually very high up, chances are, compassion is not to be taken as a virtue. Not unless you once came from a humble background.

Wee Shu Min is a classic example.

Anonymous said...

If the public transport companies weren't so obssessive about pursuing profits, they could jolly well give free transportation as a form of public service to all the visually handicapped people AND our NS boys who are serving the nation for 2 years earning a pittance lower than the bangala workers!

The 2% GST increase is being used to help the poor, our POOR MINI$TER$. They need to line their wardrobe with expensive Armani suits, send more money to their children living abroad in nice, expensive houses.

Anonymous said...

I am all in support for lower fares and subsidy for the poor. However, are we barking up the wrong tree?

SMRT does not set the prices of the train fares. The Public Transport Council, an independent body to approve and regulate bus services, public transport fares and ticket payment services does it.

Perhaps the comments about a CEO driving an expensive European car is a tad personal? Let's not forget SMRT is a private corporation, not a government body. Maybe one should see if the people running PTC are driving Benz or BMWs instead?

Taishan said...

The so called independent body PTC dares dance to a tune than what is scripted for them ?

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:06pm :

The point is simple; the key people who determines public transport policies are NOT taking public transport themselves.

I suppose if the CEO had to squeeze daily with the crowds in the mrt or buses, she might not be so reluctant in wanting to increase train frequency.

It is sad that our leaders are usually so hesistant when it comes to giving out money to help the needy, but very quick to reward themselves for a job they think they did well.

Anonymous said...

Going to "tweak" the system again?

Anonymous said...


I don't know whether you are naive or plain stupid...

I hope you are being naive and not a gong kia..

Anonymous said...

Singapore Inc is crippled by billions of losses in investments. That loss has to be recouped and the surest way to do that is to squeeze Singaporeans. Living in Singapore, you and me will always have to pay for some "exceptional" people's mistakes.

Anonymous said...

justme said...
..... only if the higher ups listen to people on the ground and not just depend on inaccurate or misconstrued metrics to evaluate performance :)

what makes you think that the higher ups "depended on the metrics" to get the full picture? are those people at the top really all dull and dumb to not know what actually goes on.. even after all these years? i have come to the conclusion that the ONLY way for change, is to vote in an entirely new govt.

Anonymous said...

"SMRT does not set the prices of the train fares. The Public Transport Council, an independent body to approve and regulate bus services, public transport fares and ticket payment services does it."

Stop been a clown. Ask yourself why would SMRT even want to stop PTC from price hike when SMRT is the one benefit from it ? PTC and SMRT is belong to the happy family of Lee Business Inc, don't they ? Or you telling me otherwise ?

Anonymous said...

Firstly...I like to say how interesting it is to see a perspective of Singapore that is much more different from the norm you see. I cannot really comment on Singapore as a country as I am a British citizen but, I have a three month old daughter who is being raised there ( I would actually be in SG now but am suffering from an aggressive brain tumour which stopped my migration in its tracks!) so have a keen interest on things there.

Singapore is a rather beautiful place itself but I have heard many tales (from SG citizens) that paint a rather different picture. I mean, we are far from perfect over here in the UK (corrupt bankers and thieving politicians are the tip of the iceberg) so I take all I hear with a pinch of salt.

What it seems like to me is obviously you have been controlled by the same government for a VERY long time despite being democratic, there obviously seems to be a certain section of the population who benefit from having the government in power to the detriment of the ones who need the help most. What will happen in the next twenty years time when the fathers have long gone and you have younger people in control of the same party? Are things going to get better? If things are tough now they could well get alot worse for the next generations to come.

Having said that it seems to me that is nigh on impossible for a new government to be voted hasn't happened in Singapore's modern lifetime and it is hard to see that changing.

Anyway, like I said, I am not really at liberty to be critical about any country and for every criticism of SG I hear, I also hear another story about how blessed it is to be a SG citizen.

I just cannot imagine how people who are disabled are almost discarded by their own government in such a fashion. What problems would I be facing as one of those fellow disabled (my diagnosis automatically classes me as disabled) let alone the costs of treatments for my illness?

If there is no compassion from the top then you can never expect the youth to have compassion for their fellow citizens.

Anonymous said...

Many Singaporeans in the internet have called for the ruling party(pap) to be voted out.

Sm Goh Chok Tong had just called for fair treatment of opposition parties. He could be just waiting for the present decision makers in the government to be voted out. Then the younger pap and opposition politicians will take over to face the shits that accumulated from the past and difficulties that are coming our way. These new rulers will have to take the raps of the past and face the challenges lying ahead. The present decision makers can then free themselves from their responsibilities and past mistakes if any. They will also enjoy wonderful carefree livings as they were handsomely rewarded by themselves while holding power. Many such politicians would have offsprings and luxurious properties at oversea. They are likely to have friends and political/diplomatic connections abroad. Should they wish to settle abroad quietly and enjoy the rest of their live, far away from the baying crowd(of singaporeans)

Do you hear them saying come and take over us, you silly folks.....

Anonymous said...

to anon 8.55

huan tang bu huan yao

black cat or white cat, anyone who subscribes to the present policy of intransparency and nonaccountability, is out!!!

Anonymous said...

Calling for a party to be voted out on the internet and ACTUALLY voting the party out are two different things. That is what remains to be seen...

Anonymous said...

"The Mercedes comes when profits grow and giving the poor, disabled and old a more affordable fare does not help with the maintenance of that Mercedes."

I doubt she need any maintenance of that Mercedes (let alone care for the disabled or poor) as with the current profit SMRT is earning, she can jolly well change cars every year if she chooses to.

Anonymous said...

SMRT is a publicly listed company.
Obviously main KPI would be PROFIT.
There is nothing wrong with a listed company making profits.

You are barking up the wrong tree.
The problem is that SMRT is not efficient/profitable compared HK.
The problem is not that the CEO is driving a Mercedes.
The problem is not the lack of subsidy.
The problem is there is too much deadwood. Same as for most of the TLCs.

If you want better service, get the gahmen out of SMRT and NOT more gahmen intervention.

Anonymous said...


Can you clarify who is the deadwood in your statement - "The problem is there is too much deadwood."?

The Handicapped, Poor or Low Income earner? Maybe We should euthanize them to spare them the pain of living is such a high cost and standard of living country like Singapore.

Discarded Cardboard Collector said...

We're a meritocracy aren't we?

You contribute to the economy you get and deserves the perks and more. And it all enshrined in the law. And so enjoy your Mercedes ride assured you're on moral high grounds.

What can you expect if you are merely selling tissue paper? And with two people at it. Hardly economic value added is it?

There is nothing wrong with meritocracy. Meritocracy is fair. Get used to it, people! or should it peasants!

(The world have never changed since from old, even from the beginning. There were landlords and serfs and slaves. We only changed clothes, and I don't think we even washed before changing. Jesus said, "There shall always be the poor.")

Anonymous said...

This is a better example of the lack of subsidy for the poor.


You are actually correct except that SMRT is underperforming and therefore the CEO deserves to be fired. If we were a true meritocracy.

Discarded Cardboard Collector said...

"You are actually correct except that SMRT is underperforming and therefore the CEO deserves to be fired. If we were a true meritocracy."

Who is to say I am not performing? If my boss says I do well, I do well, mere numbers notwithstanding. You dont see everything to know anything. And we always go the long term.

And if Ho Ching is a good or even high performer, who exceeds expectations in all areas, what am I to say?

So again I say meritocracy is fair.

Anonymous said...

"meritocracy is fair."

Take my fart ! You can't smell it ? That's meritocracy !

Anonymous said...

Meritocracy is all very well and good when you are rewarded for doing a job and exceeding expectations but not when the results are in the other direction...that should be met with the appropriate manner in which anybody else who did a poor job would be dealt with...this is just another fine example of the society where the big cheeses are rewarded at the detriment of the ordinary public who time and time again are forgotten about.

This is most certainly one of those global crisis's too...a pandemic if you will, just like the H1N1 virus...but is there a really a cure for these parasites, the politicians and fat cats who continue to run ordinary tax paying folks into the ground whilst they live 'The life of Riley'?

tiredman said...

I am just too tired to bother about this issue. Singapore is a society of greed. We learn greed from America and improve it many times more. That is why welfare is a dirty word in Singapore and greed is the best.

What can you ask more from a CEO when our very "own" MPs in situations have made uncaring statements to the citizens?

上梁不真下梁歪 hai~~~

GLOW said...

about SMRT... what a story..
get the people to pay for the construction, the purchase of the equiptment, the setting up and running of the system.. AND when it all works and makes a profit.. invite some private enterprise to come run it..

what a nice gift...

socialise the cost... privatise the profits..

another great idea ..

people.. it is suppose to be a PUBLIC service..

just ask our Ministers .. they R aslo PUBLIC servents..

OHH.. I forget.. they got private pay scales..

Alan Wong said...

SMRT reminds me of the UEM (a company controlled by UMNO) who controls the tolls collection for the PLUS North South Highway in Malaysia.

It was reported in the Malaysia news that the contract for the toll collection stipulates a clause that the toll collector shall be entitled to recover any losses by way of increasing the toll rates to be approved by the Malaysian Government.

We, for one, do not know what are the real happenings behind the scenes.

Is there any difference between SMRT's social contract with PAP and UEM's commercial contract with UMNO, you judge for yourselves ?

Alan Wong said...

Sorry I forgot to add :-

Has anyone raised any question as to how PAP raises and utilises its funds ?

I would be interested to know.

Anonymous said...

why should a public transport service or any public service even make a profit? profit out of poor people? they should lower their rates since service is so damn damn poor here.