(Or “Trumpets pls for WP” or “WP way ahead of PAP and S’poreans”)
So the PAPpies are accusing WP MPs of plagarising. The implication is that WP don’t do original thinking. Well it is clear from the responses of the “victims” that the PAP are peeing on the wrong tree. Wicked, mean tot: are the two Nairs advising their fellow PAPpies to use this tactic? Seems the kind of thing lawyers love to do: go negative on obscure technicalities. It also seems similar in nature to the Nair’s recent antics; antics that backfired badly on the Nairs, and on the PM in one instance. So the PAPpies should take care.
Seriously, the WP had an original idea that was way ahead of public sentiment in its 2011 General Election Manifesto. Instead of public transport being provided by profit-oriented companies, all public transport including the MRT & public buses servicing major routes should be brought under a National Transport Corporation, a public body, to ensure a smooth integration of the overall national transport network and to avoid unnecessary duplication of services and overheads incurred by multiple operators.
In simple English, the WP Manifesto called for the nationalisation of the MRT and bus systems.
At the time, there was very little mainstream (to be expected) or new media (more surprising this) attention, and very little public interest on this issue. But things are different now.
With $1.1bn of tax-payers’ money going into the bus system (two-thirds or 67% of it, $733m, going into ComfortDelgro where the state has a shareholding that is “peanuts”*), there are many voices wondering why private shareholders should benefit from a public good? Example: Since housing and transport are both necessities of life, and public transport is the only choice of the lower-income group, it is not unjustifiable to commit resources to keep the cost of public transport low … government spending on public transport is a form of income redistribution …
The key concern in the S$1.1-billion package to purchase and operate buses is not that it subsidises public transport per se but whether public funds could benefit a small group of shareholders, to whom bus companies are ultimately accountable.
This is what the Government will need to account to taxpayers.
Even BT, part of the nation-building, constructive media had this to say yesterday, The public transport model has come under scrutiny ever since a $1.1 billion package was announced by the government to supplement the existing privately run bus fleet with 550 buses.
But the minister responsible for the splurge can only parrot his predecessors, Our current model leaves the operations of trains and buses to commercial entities as we believe the long term public interest is best served this way. The profit incentive drives the operators towards higher efficiency and productivity, which keeps costs as low as possible . . . Otherwise, if the system is inefficiently run, the public will ultimately pay for the higher operating costs, either through higher fares, or greater government subsidies.
The WP should now be asking why despite the “higher efficency and productivity” (“which keeps costs as low as possible”) of the private companies, bus commuters keep paying more and more while getting worse and worse service, so much so that the government has to subsidise the companies to improve bus service quality. It should also remind the government and the voters that it called for nationalisation last year.
I’m sure the WP will soon rebut the minister’s The profit incentive drives the operators towards higher efficiency and productivity, which keeps costs as low as possible. But why is the WP so modest about getting it “right”?
Being modest and understated are to me, great traits, in people. I hate show-offs and boasters. But being modest is not for a political party that aspires to form the government some day. Worse, there is the danger that the PAPpies persuade voters that the WP doesn’t believe its own manifesto, so why should they (the voters) believe the WP? It pointed out earlier this year (rightly) that the WP’s benchmark for ministers’ salaries had changed from the poor (in said manifesto) to a civil service senior grade (Gerald Giam in parliament).
If this silence persists, one can only wonder if the WP has forgotten its manifesto call on the nationalisation of public transport (see somewhere here) or changed its mind on public transport nationalisation? And then one can wonder why the forgetfulness or change, when the facts and public mood seem to favour nationalisation?
*Using back-of-the envelope calculations and figures in annual reports, since it was listed SMRT (over a decade ago) has paid $562.79m in dividends to Temasek (which owns 74%), and ComfortDelgro has paid the S’pore Labour Foundation (a statutory board affiliated to the NTUC which has 12%) dividends of roughly $150.46m since 2003 (Comfort and Delgro merged in 2003, and SLF had a stake in Comfort). The amount that ended up with the government was $713.25m, with SMRT contributing 79%. But ComfortDelgro is the main beneficiary of the $1.1bn bus plan, given that, at present, SBS Transit (a listed co 75% owned by ComfortDelgro) provides most of the buses. ComfortDelgro is getting $733m or 67% of the $1.1bn package.