Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Two's company

When I was in Primary school, I was taught that the maximum number of people that Singapore could accommodate was 2 million people. Today, I know that that number is wrong by 2.5 million, for the population of Singapore is 4.5m today

Now, we are told that that limit is set to increase to 6.5 million. Many Singaporeans are uneasy with that number. Singapore is already quite crowded. Look no further than the MRT stations and trains in operation during rush-hour on weekdays. Look at the gridlock on Orchard Road around the same time and you will see that the car problem contributed by too many people driving.

More people = more cars is obviously a truism in Singapore. "Are our planners out of their minds?" you ask. I speculate that they must have been to Shanghai recently. During rush hour, the subway trains in Shanghai are so packed that you just cannot move - and I thought Hong Kong was bad enough. I was placing a call to a friend the other day in Shanghai and I became anxious when she did not pick up the phone - twice. Later, she explain that she was on the crowded subway train when I called but she just could raise up her phone with her hand in the sea of people packed and surrounding her to talk to me. It was that crowded. And this hyper-crowding is a Mondays to Fridays rush-hour phenomenon.

Some officials in Singapore must have a warped sense of space and decided that sardine-packing people into the subway trains is 'world-class best practice' and optimum use of land. The train operators must have jumped for joy when they were consulted accordingly (well, we have had a consultative government since Goh Chok Tong). So the planners punched their Hewlett-Packard calculators (sorry Casio's are too cheap, though they should be accurate up to 6.5million, at least) and came up with 6.5m. What I am flabberghasted is that the government says that this number is for planning purposes only and does not represent the number of people that will dot the land one day. This is what is called official-speak, double-talk, hoodwinking, bluffing or just plain confusing. I cannot understand what they mean by what they said - and by a government Minister in the recent Parliament sitting to boot. We plan for 6.5m but will not have 6.5m? Hmmm, let me dig out my English language books to review that. I might have missed something in all my years of studying the English language.

But what we do know and have learnt over the last 40 years is that if the PAP government says so, they will do so. So if I had some spare cash, I'd buy up SMRT and SBS Transitlink stocks today. Their appreciation is a Singapore PAP government-back certainty. Hmmm...and while I am at it, let me look at some property investments too.

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