Monday, April 23, 2012

The Island that was

It is a sad day for Singapore.

The celebrated "Singapore works" moniker is in danger of extinction. The erstwhile 'it just works' island is now an unreliable place to be, transport wise. How did we ever descend into this?

Commuters are so spooked that they pray and cross their fingers they will get to the office on time every morning. And students taking exams are now caught up in this worrisome phenomenon - of trains breaking down for hours. Come to think of it - Singapore students of one type or another are taking exams and tests throughout most of the year, except perhaps in June and December. I am beyond that, but I have children who may face this previously unthinkable prospect. If you are late, it is because you are late. Don't blame the bus or the train. You should have set off earlier to allow for heavy traffic. That's what we get told anyway.

Now, we can definitely say it was the train that was late. What can you do when you are stuck in a subterranean tunnel somewhere on the island for an extended period of time? There is really nowhere to go, nothing to do except wait for help. And given the mess that is likely taking place above ground, you can hunker down and wait, and wait and ....until the oxygen runs out or someone smashes the door with a fire extinguisher.

But we have become complacent, even arrogant in our perceived resiliency. We have gotten drunk on the praise that the international community has lavished on us for years that we have begun to believe in our own invincibility. Well, schools are going to have to craft out a new set of rules that govern these exceptions that are likely to occur to students taking exams. Our exam standards and processes will now get to a higher level. Yeah, you bet.

As the Committee of Inquiry (COI) on transport proceeds, we are hearing of lapses that reddens the face, and not least those earning millions whose job was to put in place people and processes precisely to prevent, and manage disasters. But no, the here and now matters more. The stockholders' interest is primary. If you can't cut cost and grow profit, you're just not good enough a CEO. You need to get one person to do two persons' job. That's promoting productivity. Isn't that what the government is advocating, nay, droning on and on these days?

The customer who? Oh those rats in the tunnels and holes. Well, consider themselves lucky that we charge them so little to zip from one hole in the ground to another, those vermins. For us, that Porshe is just fine.

City Hall, we have a problem here.

4 comments :

Anonymous said...

But their most pressing concern is how to retort Lim Chong Yah's call for their wages to be frozen.

Saycheese

Epilogos Blogger said...

They can't. People who have lived and breathe a success story rarely are able to see think any other way a la Christensen's Innovator's Dilemma

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