I can’t remember praising any minister in the past, or at least not the new ministers. The pioneers were different as they were the pathfinders, the people who set the stage for the play today, selflessly. It is hard to praise the ministers now as they have held themselves up as supermen and superwomen and thus are expected to do super works. Mediocrity is not acceptable from super beans. And with the super pay they are claiming for themselves, anyone talking about sacrifices need to be stuffed with shit in their mouths.
The expectation is superlative. But when mediocrity is the order of the day, anything better is betterer and deserves some encouragement. I was watching in Parliament last night on telly and two ministers stood out for mentioning. Lui Tuck Yew is one of them. He came across as someone with a mission to do a big repair job. And he is earnest and tuned up for it.
The transportation mess that he inherited would have to be dealt with in a different light. The causes, the past assumptions, must be thrown into the dustbin and a new set of assumptions need to be put right. Wrong assumptions would lead to wrong results though perfectly logically and defendable. When 1 is 3 and 2 is 4, 1 + 2 = 7. Logic. No one can argue against such thinking.
The angst against public transportation was likely to be the result of a different set of perverse assumptions, eg, maximization of profits and with the Tokyo train as the role model to surpass. The comfort and graciousness of the people were not factors for consideration. Maximising profit would mean longer waiting time and jam packed trains to benefit the shareholders and big bonuses for the top management. Scintillating profit numbers are so good to look at. Then there is the added Tokyo standard to surpass. Jam packed train will only be at best as good as Tokyo’s. To surpass that, the trains must be bulging at the sides. Only then can it claim to be better than Tokyo’s.
What Tuck Yew has done is to dismantle such beliefs. Commuter comfort, efficiency and graciousness are equally important, or more important. More trains and buses will be added to reduce waiting time. The desired 95% load will be cut to 85% to provide more comfort and breathing space for the commuters. There will be overall increases in the number of trips run by trains and buses.
The new assumptions and standards would definitely make public transportation much better and tolerable than the standards of the past. There will be big costs involved but temporarily this will be delayed till a later date.
The changes are major especially in the mindset. Maximising profit has taken a rubbing for the moment to give way to commuter’s interests. Just hope the fare hike will not be too prohibitive and the Govt will give a helping hand. Public transportation is not simply a service and to be run primarily for profits alone. Public transportation affects our way of life, the way businesses are done, business costs, people’s costs, social and economic costs. Bringing public transportation cost down will benefit everyone and everything, including business and the govt. It is a big change for the better.