Thursday, October 24, 2013

Singtel Bukit Panjang Unthinkable Fire

I have been watching and taking my time to make up my mind about the unthinkable fire at Singtel's Bukit Panjang exchange. Such incidents should never happen unless the building is bombed, but we all know the fire started from inside and lasted 10 times longer than the remotest possibility that a fire should even start. Talk of redundancy are from the majority of people who don't understand such matters because most of us are not trained as engineers.

The ignorance of the public will make it easier for the IDA to explain this without looking too bad. They now have an achievable task to do a cover up which is not a cover up - You will not have a truly independent inquiry. Already the police are out of this. It is alright if a small number of observers can see through and understand what is going on. They are too few to matter and most important they do not have a platform to shout from and explain to the people. Do engineers even know how to tell it accurately and simply for people to understand?

ST is as usual caught between a rock and a hard place when a government related entity screwed up. Irene Tham has the above short report on the front page to satisfy the one who gives them the newspaper printing licence and a more thoughtful, long-winded read to make the paper look better hidden in the inside pages.

Looks like our Temasek linked companies are being run like BP infamous for headline industrial accidents that should never have happened. Our leaders have been making the same mistakes of trusting the markets the same way Alan Greenspan had with Wall Street. You are likely to ape those you admire and Greenspan was hugely admired, perhaps also worshiped by some of the power elite.

We must always ask ourselves how we are using market forces. The market should be a servant and not the master. We tell the market to do its magic to optimize the outcomes we want. We never let the market tell us where we should go. It always take you to where you ultimately don't want to go and give you more trouble than is worth.

SIA botched website was an early and persistent warning that something is deeply wrong with how this place is run. Now there are too many bad examples to count ranging across practically all industries. Why can't we run this place more like Changi Airport than SIA or SMRT etc., Too expensive? Then learn to do it cheaper. The Americans are doing exactly that and now you will see them increasingly bringing home manufacturing they exported earlier.

Update: 11:20am

I just returned to my desk and found this good article by Breakfast Network on this issue. Those poor reporters must have been hopelessly confused by the IDA but what could they do in their stories? Call IDA confused and stupid or in less blunt terms preferred by Bertha Henson: mightily obtuse. Even she needed an adverb to go with obtuse.

The plot is simple because this is the time tested way to cover up without a cover up. The first step in the gambit is to confuse the public. There are too few engineers who know to matter. The issue is very simple: why was there a fire which is supposed to be really rare to the point of nothing (5 sigma event?) and why didn't the fire suppression system kick in? Did the company take a "boh anen suay" attitude like BP had with Deep Water Horizon and their refineries? Ditto SMRT too. Cutting costs and taking risks they don't  understand.

We are being taken all over the place for nothing but this is really all important for a cover up which is not a cover up. Watch IDA and Singtel complexify, confuse and divert the issue until it is at a safe distance.

1 comment:

  1. Fully agree. As saying goes, if you can't convince (as we and they know it!), then confuse with your BS!

    BTW, S'pore runs a clean and honest system