Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Can SMRT be fined or charged for causing a strike?

Why not, especially SMRT has already admitted that they are also responsible for the strike by Chinese drivers. The Ministry of Manpower has criticised SMRT for the mishandling and mismanagement of the Chinese drivers’ demand.     

Bus services are part of the public transport system. When the train services were disrupted or delayed, SMRT and SBS Transit received fines from the Authority.  Now, the SMRT’s bus services are affected during and after the strike.  It is fair that the management of SMRT should be fined or charged for causing inconvenience to commuters.  At least, an official warning from the Authority is the minimum.  

Whether it is a simple case of mismanagement of human resources or the failure of senior management judgement of the situation, it all comes back to the performance of SMRT.  It fails to check on the potential risk of a strike that will affect the efficiency of Singapore public transport system.   Land Transport Authority, when reviewing and assessing the performance of SMRT, should consider SMRT’s ability in the management and prevention of a strike.

Middle ground and basic values

PM Lee has stressed a lot on middle ground and basic values recently.  Speaking at a PAP’s conference last Sunday, he said “that as the country re-examines fundamental questions about its future, it must not "go overboard" and abandon the values that have got Singapore to where it is now. “ #1

Middle ground means providing the basic and efficient public transport services to Singaporeans.  These are the fundamental values. And Singapore seems to have difficulties solving these challenges.    

In the same PAP’s conference, a party member raised the same questions about values:

“To do so, Mr Lye called for the ruling PAP to return to "basics" by demonstrating more heart in policies, while communicating those to Singaporeans and connecting with them.
"At the national level, we need to communicate better and highlight the heart in our policies," said the 50-year-old. "We spend more time talking about the F1 race, explaining the IRs (Integrated Resorts) than we did (about) the population policies. In Aljunied, we must be prepared to argue for policies that are different from the Government, even if they are somewhat similar to the Opposition's." 
The PAP also has to address a perception among some members of the public that the party's transport and housing policies are aimed at maximising profits, he argued. “#2

PM Lee should ask himself whether his government is moving away from the middle ground and basic values at the first place, rather than talking about “"go overboard" and abandon the values.”  He and his government are aiming at the wrong target.

Economic growth and meritocracy

If SMRT is subject to the same meritocracy principle, it should share the same responsibility as the Chinese drivers. Mismanagement, mishandling and misjudge the situation show the poor administration of the top management at SMRT. Some Chinese drivers will go to jail; more already sent home and is there anything for the SMRT management besides criticisms?
Remember the case of Mas Selamat. How do the public view the case? PM Lee should know clearly from the result of GE2011.

PM Lee is quick to pass comment on the unfortunate Jurong Shipyard accident, but we have yet to hear his views on the SMRT strike.  
“Pushing back against arguments that a focus on economic growth and a system based on meritocracy has harmed Singapore, Mr Lee said that Singaporeans who think that the Government over-emphasises growth do not appreciate how a lack of growth will impact the country.” #1
May be he will re-think and rephrase his above statement when commenting on the SMRT strike. Has the government handling of the strike so far achieved the balance and trade-off of meritocracy and economic growth in the eyes of Singaporeans and foreigners, especially the Chinese?  



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