Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Everyday Robbing People

When the CBD (Central Business District) system was first introduced to relieve traffic congestion, a lawyer argued successfully in court that it was illegal to charge motorists for usage of roads for which they are already paying road tax. No matter, the government simply passed a new law to make it legal. For speaking up to protect the interest of the common people, the lawyer's career path had to take a slight detour.

The much maligned Electronic Road Pricing system never really worked in that heavy traffic was simply diverted to other roads, afflicting other routes with the congestion it was supposed to prevent. You still get to be late for work, appointments, or sales calls. But the ugly gantries continue to be erected, harvesting handsome sums for the tax collectors.

The Land Transport Authority announced that will fund 4 parties with $1 million each "to design, develop and demonstrate technological solutions" for a new system to charge motorists not only for where they travel to, but also for the distances they clock getting there. In other words, pay as you drive. Notice that in the stated objectives, there is no mention of making car ownership more affordable.

In Singapore, the invasive nature of knowing where you have been at certain hours of the day or night is something we are used to, although other enlightened countries might find that reason enough to kill the initiative. Instead of the visible iconic blue-and-white gantries to warn you of the daylight robbery ahead, the proposed innovation will have "soft" zones, which presence is detected only by a new in-vehicle unit (IU). Since satellite signals, such as those used by space-based global navigation satellite GPS receivers, cannot be used because of tunnels and "urban canyons", the positioning data will have to be transmitted using A-GPS. Meaning, motorists will have to subscribe to one of those pricey data plans marketedd by the ISPs. Good time to invest in telecoms shares.

Not too long ago, tempers flared when commuters discovered that the new-fangled distance-based fares ended up to be a disguised hike in transportation charges. Raymond Lim may be soon forgotten, but he won't ever be forgiven for that duplicity. So will this satellite tracking system be a repeat of history, another Everyday-Rob-People exercise? Suffice to say, it is no coincidence that the new guy in charge has a moniker that sounds like Ptui! Tuck Yew!


  1. When all is said and done, it's always about getting more money from the pockets of us daftees despite the current wayang exercise to exonerate some of their guilt.

    We should shoulder some of the blame for them zooming into car ownership as a cash cow with our rabid obsession with cars but then, the public transport system is far from world class with coaches full of cattle from every corner of the globe.

    I especially like your last sentence.

    Pui! we're really focked!

  2. "In Singapore, the invasive nature of knowing where you have been at certain hours of the day or night is something we are used to, although other enlightened countries might find that reason enough to kill the initiative.”

    Funny you mention that. If you drive around in the UK their Police collect data on where you are and where you’ve been through a network of CCTV cameras. In some cities the same network is used to calculate the congestion charge. Wouldn’t be surprised if we took that route, actually.

  3. Daft Singaporeans deserve to be robbed everyday. The key issue is the mandate they have given to the ruling party to do it by allowing majority seats in parliament. Even with 6 opposition MPs will not change this everyday robbery. It will continue after some cosmetic change.

    To be fair, city traffic has to be controlled but there are many better solutions. Not all solutions are suitable for tropical Singapore. Car-ownership and usage controls are just the easy and technical ways.

    The key issue is the accountable and transparent government that allows citizens' participation and debates to find a solution to this problem (same situation for other problems). Without accountability and transparency, there is no good governance and good/strong government. Note that strong government does not necessarily mean a dictator government. A strong government is a cohesive people-civil servants governance.

  4. Stockholm syndrome occurs when the victim feels indebted and even endeared to his or her captor and abuser who holds him or her hostage. Doesn't it appear familiar in a way now?

  5. Use your vote again in GE 2016.

    It's the only thing deaf frogs can hear.

  6. Yes, that appears ironically to be the only thing that can make anyone hear--the votes. 40% of Singaporeans voted for the opposition, a higher percentgae ever than the last few years ago in 2006, and then, what happens? 6 opposition members in parliament! I hate to think about what happens if it is a 49% voting for the opposition but that the PAP makes a clean sweep of all the seats the next elections. That would really be the ultimate sign to us all, pro-opposition or pro-PAP or just forfeited vote group alike, that we are really the daftest of the daft lot in allowing this to happen.

    On the flipside, cannot there be any means by which the average citizen is empowered to change his immediate society at least by refusing certain things, or gaining more self-knowledge, as opposed to allowing the government to do it for us all the time? While it is true that many of our civil rights as citizens are not there for us to exercise, at the same time, I believe that education of other people, by making them more aware of electoral processes, the runnings of the government machinery and its flaws, as well as the need to refuse it, are vital to changing things to begin with. When we as citizens even refuse this basic civic duty, then we abet the status quo.

  7. Just around April before the election frenzy started, PTC released a survey and reported on MSM that SBS/LTA met satisfactory criterion and found no issues on our transport woes. All these wayang trying to fool people once again that everything is hunky dorey. Of course, Straits times played its part as an enabler to whitewash all the issues. Then come the sacking of Raymondlim. Followed by their own kind of new MP Lim to personally conduct a field trip himself before the "truths" are dawned on him & the party. What does that tell you?! The entire bus/transit/taxies situations have gone from bad to worse over the past few years and they were in denial until NOW. I say cut their pay for 70% and let them live like one of us before it gets all up into their heads. Before you discover the people's pain, it's always years down the road before one can reverse it. I rest my case. Let their grassroots, town council and even the msm thrash keep printing and telling the emperors that his clothes are always shining and on. We can then once again vote decisively in 2016.

  8. It won't be as bad if they use the loot to help the poor. Instead, they keep stashing it into the so-called reserves. But why such massive reserves? We barely used any in the Great Recession!

  9. Our PAP Govt must either be money-faced, anti-family or anti-buiness to impose ERP charges even on Saturdays, a usual rest day for many families out to shop and dine in town.

    By the way PAP, WTF is a little congestion on our roads on Saturdays ?

  10. Agree Alan. If they want to help the little people, at least waive all the weekend and public holidays. I don't think people minded. And extend free fares for elderlies.

    Amused touched an interesting point..WTF do they need such massive reserves for? In fact, how do we know for a FACT that these socalled reserves are not a ponzi scheme? Afterall, Bernie Madoff was able to pull one massive fraud under the eyes of the govt plus printing out real statement and what not..Todate, nobody has ever questioned (not even the useless President) know for fact that it exists as it claimed!! Who has the financial reports to our reserves today other than the Lee family?

  11. What Reserve?
    Must reserve how much?
    Reserve for who?
    For how long?
    And for what?

  12. to the LKY worshipper, be patient, very soon he can become a deity in your home.

    many folks like myself will always remember him as Ah Lee Baba and his 80 thieves, no doubt a legend, one who can rob an entire population and with 60% thanking him as well! LOL

  13. Lots of disguises have been devised for many purposes. GST disguised as being to help the poor. GRCs disguised as being to help minority candidates getting into Parliament. ERP disguised as being to ease traffic jams.

    They are now experts in thinking up disguises and bestowing pompous titles. Not surprisingly, one of them even take such disguising exercise so seriously that he dressed up as Zorro.

    I wonder whether we have now been sold more disguises, looking at the monumental changes that adds little substance but generates plenty of noises.

  14. ERP is never turned off once it is on, no matter how light the traffic gets. Not even during school holidays.