Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Forgetting Your Purpose

Originally, transport companies were privatized to make them more efficient. I remember when I was in school, I was taught that privatization was done because profit makes it an easy way for infrastructure services like power, water and transport to be motivated enough to streamline their offerings and push the companies to function better.

However, there is one assumption.

That the gah-men maintains control on these companies and they do not forget their purpose.

However, when these companies focus too hard on the bottomline, and forget what they were originally set up to do, we have a problem that looks strikingly like what we have now.

Actually, I don't even blame the transport companies. They are just the most recent ones to get flak for system-wide amnesia.

Telcos done it. Singtel, according to a lot of my friends have become so incredibly unresponsive, and complacent that in many places in Singapore, the reception and 3G internet speeds are pathetic. It's even scarier when you consider that Singtel is the one that maintains all the repeater stations in Singapore. The customer service in Singtel, has cause some to consider them Stink-tel.

They forget that they do not answer to the shareholders. They answer to the people of Singapore, whose taxes was used to create the company in the first place.

Comfort Delgro FINALLY realizes that they are having a problem retaining their taxi drivers and getting them to drive on rainy days. But they don't think that the reason for that, is because the draconian rules they impose or the ridiculous fare structures they insist on implementing.

They forget that they are at core a company that caters to the infrastructure of Singapore.

Politicians forget. That the reason why Singaporeans are so yielding is because when the nation of Singapore was formed, we submitted because of a social contract. One that is not explicitly written, but holds true nonetheless. That we give up the power to do exactly what we like, when we like, and in return the powers that be do what's the best for US, to the best of their ability. For that, we are a democracy run like a monarchy (I'd say dictatorship, but it's not passed from father to son).

Now, it's about being somebody, rather than doing something. No, you cannot fake "giving a damn". Eventually, you'll ALWAYS be found out. So much the faster when you stick your foot in your mouth on a regular basis.

NTUC has forgotten that it is the check and balance when it comes to representing the people that cannot be represented. For the little guy. It's forgotten because it's more profitable to run supermarkets, and it's been too long since it's been called to do anything related to its name, the National Trade Union Cooperative.

So, it just mouth the words that were given to it, and it's pretty much become a toothless tiger. When the Ministry of Manpower does nothing but facilitate business, the police enforce written law, without understanding the spirit of it, the National Wage Council (yes, there is such a thing) advice is so much smoke, who do the little people turn to when there is wrongdoing? Nobody.

The press has forgotten for a long time. There has not been independent reporting in this country for a long, long time. Words get twisted out of context, irrelevant news get blown out of proportion, and things that are of concern are sidelined.

Nowadays, Facebook's timeline give me a better view of the world than the Straits Times, and that's a sad, sad fact indeed.

Watchdog bodies have forgotten that their job is to ensure state run enterprises remember their purpose. A monopoly or an oligopoly is allowed because it is suppose to be more efficient under real world circumstances. But seriously, what is the fine of $100,000 when the daily takings of a transport company is in the millions? Not even a slap on the wrist. When watchdog bodies have no teeth, and their bark is worse than their bite, who remembers them?

Transport companies forgot that they are suppose to manage and maintain infrastructural efficiency in Singapore so we, the citizens and residents of Singapore can do our busy bee impression and work for Singapore, Incorporated. When transport prices keep going up, and there is absolutely no apparent increase in efficacy, we ask, exactly what are the transport companies doing? Are they suppose to manage the infrastructure, which is paid for by the taxes of the people in the first place, or are they suppose to just manage the profit? What's the company doing with the profits anyway, if not to reinvest into making Singapore's transport network that much better?

Now, transport companies raise prices, which the PTC almost automatically agrees to, and we, the citizens of Singapore, not only paid to create the infrastructure, also pays to maintain and upgrade it. Where does the  profits go to? Lord only knows, but I thought I saw this on an episode of Hustle once.

Has the authorities related to housing and development forgotten? I think so. When prices of flats are through the roof, that the idea of having a place to stay is so far out of your mind if you're under 40 years old right now, one must wonder, what is the purpose of flats that are constructed with the money of the people, and then sold back to them at a MASSIVE profit again? Perhaps it is to show the world bank that Singapore has the most number of millionaires in the world, and most of these millionaires are rich because of a lease. No, not ownership. A lease. Yes, people who live in HDB flats, HDB is still your landlord, just because it doesn't say so on paper doesn't make it any different.

We, the people, have forgotten. Haven't we? Governments should fear the people, not the other way around. We have forgotten we can do something about this. We believe the press when it said that the President is a ceremonial role, and not the most powerful person in the land because he is the one that holds the veto vote in any parliamentary decision. We forget that the one that holds the purse strings very often holds the power to force government ministries to remember and act for the good of the people. We forget that the President holds the power to change key gahmen figures, and they are appointed by his approval, yes, including the Prime Minister.

The President of Singapore is suppose to represent the people, and when the people forget, apparently, so does the one that represents them.

The powers of the Singapore President, as it is written on Wikipedia, includes appointing the Prime Minister without consultation with ANYONE. 

So right now, where I stand, the land where I was born and raised, is one that I live in. Not because of any great love for the land, because it has forgotten itself, but because it is expedient, and because I hold on desperately to  hope, that one day, it might remember.