With the government worried that many S’poreans are itching to use the presidential elections to send another signal to the PAP that they remain unhappy with PAP policies (remember DPM’s Teo yellow card abt the difference between electing an MP and a president), the timing of the request for a fare rise by the two tpt cos is strange for two reasons.
Both companies have strong links to the government. SMRT is a TLC, Temasek owning 54%. The S’pore Labour Foundation, a statutory board linked to the NTUC, holds 12% of Comfort Delgro. SLF is Delgro’s single largest shareholder. They shouldn’t be in the business of making people angry with the government when there is an election coming.
Then there is the fact that they had been told that the issue of a price rise would only be addressed at the end of the year, after all the elections. The PTC, in February, and transport minister Lui Tuck Yew, in June, said that any consideration of fare increases should be done in relation with the opening of the Circle Line’s final two stages in October. This would have meant that this “hot” issue would not have been a major talking point during both elections.
Following the request for a price hike, the “talk cock, sing song” brigade aka the “lunatic fringe”, and responsible bloggers are all over the issue. As the new media space is Injun, Taliban, outlaw and bandit territory all rolled into one, S’poreans are reminded that we (I too take the bus and train) that we, commuters, are always being screwed for the benefit of mgt and shareholders. Come the presidential election, at least 40% will not vote for Tony Tan.
So why did the two companies request the rise at this time, when they had been told that October was the earliest date when increases would be considered?
Four explanations. All this action is Wayang. PAP MPs would protest, and the PTC would reject the request before the election. The govmin will tell us it is listening to us, the commuters, and thus make us more amendable to voting for Tony Tan. The new media pundits (rational and looney) would look stupid.
Or the PAP wants to show that it can still shove a finger into the eye of the ordinary S’porean and still win his vote? Given the GE results, this is a most unlikely explanation unless the PAP leaders are daft.
Or another mess-up by the tpt cos? Incompetent mgt accidentally saboing the government? SMRT has form in this area; from unguarded depots to scolding commuters for its mistakes to a perceived uncaring attitude towards a badly injured Thai girl.
Or maybe mgt of these companies are anti Tony Tan and the government? They want to fix Tony Tan and the government? Maybe that dynamic duo of Goh Meng Seng and Tan Kin Lian have friends in high places, and are smarter than we think.