Sunday, 31 July 2011

Lui Tuck Yew should think out of the PAP box


Lui Tuck Yew should think out of the PAP box by looking at faces of change and possibility.

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew appears to be a PAP hero fighting WP’s nationalized public transport proposal at one hand and attacking NSP’s opening up bus services to more operators in the other end.

Whatever and however his fighting spirit is, he cannot run away from the mindset of the PAP and continues to position himself within the money box.

Lui’s assumptions on our public transport are a reflection of the PAP’s mindset and government standard operation procedures. He seems to base on the following assumptions to defend his transport policy.

More private bus operators

PAP position: Greater competition in public transport - including opening up bus services to small private operators - could hurt the interests of commuters in the long run. (Today 29 Jul)

Lui noted that the two public transport operators - SBS Transit and SMRT - run a mix of profitable and loss-making routes which they are obliged to do so under their universal service obligations. 

Indirectly, according to Lui, by opening up public transport system, he cannot demand private operators to provide services to the loss-making routes. And it will lead to control problems.  Obviously, the PAP wants to control the operators.  With so many operators, if allowed, some even operated by low cost ‘foreign talents’, it will be a situation that the PAP finds difficulties to control and manage. They prefer to control 2 big ones rather than many small ones.

Creating certain kinds of monopoly, providing them with profit incentive and then ultimately, controlling them is the business ‘normal’ of the PAP. This applies to media, banking, telecommunication, and other key industries.

PAP mindset: So, they are afraid of losing the control. No controlling power, the government cannot function as effective as it wants.

Nationalized Public Transport

PAP Position: Nationalized public transport system will lead to a welfare state and commuters could end up paying more.

The PAP is always against welfare state and their philosophy is to make the rich becomes richer.  If the wealth of the nation is not distributed to support the poor, of course, at the end of the day, with inflation, the poor will have to end up paying more.

Because of state ownership, Lui thinks public transport productivity will decline and more subsidies are needed to maintain the system.  Not to forget our public transport although semi-government owned has not achieved the highest productivity in the world.  There are productive public transport systems, like the Taipei metro, and their tax payers have not complained about it.

To be rich, there are gives and takes. The government is too well aware of the fact that without the low base of foreign workers, our businesses will not be able to make more money.  Hence, there is good reason to maintain an affordable public transport system.  This is also good for businesses.
You just can’t want a good and productive house but don’t feed the house well (又要马儿好,又要马儿不吃草). An affordable public transport system is key to productive workforce.

Lui also admits that ‘there is a certain amount of cross subsidy that is taking place from the profitable routes to the non-profitable routes.’ (Today 29 Jul)

Since the 2 public transport operators can do a CROSS SUBSIDY, as a nation, there is also a possibility that the government can do a cross subsidy from the rich to the poor. If the public transport operators can take care of the loss-making routes so do the Singapore government.  As a nation, they PAP should also take care of Singapore citizens by cross subsidy from the rich (profit-making routes) to the poor (loss-making routes).  This will enhance the harmony and cohesiveness of Singapore.

PAP mindset: So, the PAP is not willing to help the poor. They allow cross subsidy for public transport operators as the PAP can control them. But the government disallows cross subsidy (from rich to poor) as they cannot control the people (and voters).

The ‘change’ of lucrative thinking

PAP position: Loss-making routes are always loss-making regardless who is the operator.  There is no ‘change’ in thinking and their solution is to think within the (control) box.

Lui’s most ‘in the box’ thinking is his view of the "cherry-picking" of lucrative routes.   Because of the usual monopoly thinking, controlling and providing profit assurance, the PAP has pre-set the situation.

He has failed to realize that the problem of loss making routes can turn into profitable ones.   His assumption of loss could be a profit for others.  Just like HDB flats, private developers can still make money on state lands and not like HDB always complains about making losses.

Just an example, you can get a haircut for $5 from a Chinese barber in your HDB estates, but you need to pay $ 7 or $8 for a local barber. This is a bad example but it shows the possibility – from loss-making to profit-making for some people.

Has Lui heard of Islamic banking? The Muslim religion does not allow interest for loan but how come we see the Islamic banking is booming? How do banks make money under no interest principle?

PAP mindset: Sothe PAP needs to think out of the box – both money making and political controlling. Their old ways of money politics and mindset need a total change for the new political ‘normal’.

Change and possibility

Change: Who will ever think of the most beautiful foreign minister in the world is from an Islamic country – Pakistan?  Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbain Khar is only 34 years old, young and pretty.

Some on Twitter made broader comments about Ms. Khar’s looks. Seema Goswami, a columnist for Brunch, the Hindustan Times Sunday magazine, observed,  

Can we have a foreign minister like Ms Khar to 
help us think out of the box?

“I think the new foreign minister of Pak, Hina Rabbani Khar, is their weapon of mass distraction”

I wish one day Singapore will have such a weapon of mass distraction so Lui and other PAP ministers can look at a similar Ms Khar and think out of the box to solve the public issues in Singapore.

Possibility: Otherwise, if they prefer conservative way, they better seek the help of the tycoons how come they can make more money when the economy is bad as reported in the Straits Times 29 July below:  

SINGAPORE'S 40 richest people are worth about US$54.4 billion (S$65 billion) in all, a 19 per cent increase from last year despite faltering share markets and a fragile global economy.

Hi, Mr. Lui you have a choice, to look at the beautiful face or the money faces to think out of the box.

Many will look at the pretty face for stimulating ideas and solutions. Good luck, Mr. Lui. Or good luck Singapore where is our Ms Khar alike?

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