Sunday, July 24, 2011

PM Lee: Pay the elites first

I don't care for soccer but Singapore beat Malaysia by two goals in 5 to 3 was good even if I haven't seen any photos or videos of the game yet. This compensates a little from what I saw in the front page of the Sunday Times this morning: the PM speech on transport fares. I would love to be the CEO of the public transport companies. Thank you PM for making our jobs easier. Don't be mistaken, the PM was doing them no favors. In their wealth trickle down philosophy, you pay the elites first. Even the feral American banks wait for the rain makers to bring in the money before compensating them, but here they get paid up front before they perform. Therefore ministers don't earn their spurs first, and SMRT and SBST do not need to improve ride experience before fares can be raised. They are defending fares increase based on a formula with the PTC. However common sense will trump any formula any day but it looks like they are going to ignore that.

There is not enough wealth to trickle down because they have just incredible appetites. The $200 million in profits is too small. What a huge transfer of wealth up river. Gravity doesn't exists in this space, does it?

At the end of the day, I am reminded that this is just one of a litany of examples that this government has lost its way. It has become so money minded. I imagine they are more concerned about the dividends SMRT and Comfort Delgro will pay to Temasek than the people's welfare. What they truly excel at is coming up with all sorts of ways to get money from us; and of course they always pay themselves first.

Update: What happens when you put the commuters ahead. See the Taipei experience.


  1. I was singing this song as I went to the polling station in GE 2011.

    I will continue to sing this on the way to the EP eletions if there is going to be an elections.

    ABBA: Knowing Me, Knowing You

  2. The clear message from the PM is that the present status quo is here to stay, and fare increases can't be helped. Take it or leave it. You may try walking or cycling which is good for your health and pocket!

    The main crux of the public transport debate is that there is no competition for rail transport and superficial duopoly competition for bus transport as very few of the bus routes of SBST and SMRT (formerly TIBS) overlap each other.

    If the govt is willing to introduce Hong Kong style mini bus services owned by private sector enterprises (not GLC-linked) to compete with the 2 govt majority-owned bus companies for a start, it will surely force these 2 transport operators to improve their asset productivity and service standards; and concurrently reduce their overall operating costs to match the competition. Otherwise whatever and however much people can complain, the local end-users will still have to pay monopoly rents and poor if not deteriorating service standards given that public transport demand is typically price inelastic.

    Based on past records, it is obvious that the 2 majority govt owned transport companies are always guaranteed risk free profits unlike normal companies which may achieve profits or suffer losses because of open competition in the marketplace.

    Competition is always good for the consumers because there are alternative choices. Singaporeans have already woken up to the fact that lack of competition in politics in the past has led to complacence, arrogance and abuse of power such as astronomical ministerial salaries. Dominant incumbents will always resist changing the status quo and let everything go on auto-pilot. Similarly, the present local public transport model in the absence of competition will not improve things or benefit consumers in terms of lower fares however much our top leaders wish to sweet-talk or hoodwink.

    The power to change is in the hands of its citizen. Voting wisely is the only means to fundamentally change things for the better; otherwise citizens will be shortchanged as usual.

  3. People had the chance to be heard and 60% choose not to. The PM has the mandate and the lesser mortals should not complain