Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Watered Down Excuses

During Operation Desert Storm, America amazed the world with the pin-point accuracy of their GPS guided Tomahawk cruise missiles, launched miles away from a remote battleship in the Mediterranean Sea. The BGM-109 Tomahawk land-attack missile (TLAM) can hit a building from 700 miles with a CEP (Circular Error Probability) of the order of 10 meters. The PUB is now telling us rainfall over Singapore has similar targeting precision, aimed squarely at Tanglin Mall and St Regis Residences. A PUB spokesman had said earlier on Sunday that flooding in the affected buildings was due to an "excessive amount of rain which fell directly into the basements".

In June around this time last year, PUB said a clogged drain was responsible for the Orchard Road floods. Except that the drainage canal opening was large enough to drive a SMRT bus through. No photographic evidence of the debris causing the blockage was ever presented. To date we don't know whether it was Minister Yaacob Ibrahim or PUB CEO Khoo Teng Chye who conjured up the creative tall story.

Yesterday, PUB claimed a "computer glitch" was responsible for alerting all buildings in the flood vicinity except for Tanglin Mall and St Regis. No further details were provided, whether it was a program bug, system crash or human error in inputting of the database. Or whether suspect buildings had a preponderance of voters who cast their ballots for the opposition parties. Needless to say, PUB credibility is at an all time low. And flooding occurrence around the island is at an all time high.

Unlike Vivian Balakrishnan, the PUB CEO cannot use the "I am not an engineer" lame excuse. The guy has a civil engineering degree from Monash University, courtesy of a Colombo Plan Scholarship funded by taxpayers. Whether he was too busy being CEO to apply his engineering knowledge to practice is a question only he can answer. Fortunately you don't really need an engineering qualification to point a finger at the building owners for installing under-sized water pumps. Orchard Road Business Association executive director, Mr Steven Goh, countered with a raised-middle-finger-type response: no pump system in the basement of every shopping centre would be able to handle the deluge of water that came gushing down on Sunday. Indeed, if drainage pumps were the magic bullets, shouldn't PUB have installed them at all flood prone areas island wide?


  1. "For that particular day, what happened was that the rate of increase for the water was pretty high; it was so high that it bypassed the trigger points of 75% and 90% levels. So the SMS alert was not sent," said PUB's director for infocomm department, Peng Kah Poh.
    Instead of setting the trigger at GREATER OR EQUAL the alarm levels, they set it at EQUAL. How dumb can you get. Wonder how much PUB pays for a director for infocomm.

  2. Hahaha..indeed the IT guy should be sacked. But more importantly, the PUB head Khoo is utterly incompetent & have repeatedly FAILED on his job. He must be sleeping soundly to the sound of the rain whenever flood like these happened. How many years now and we're still experiencing it with NO solutions until end of year?!! And they have to target at the two most expensive and upmarket buildings in Tanglin -- and hinted expensive solutions..even a 10 yr old student can get the message! How much is taxpayers paying for this super-grade civil servant to sleep on his job? While I am no big fan of Vivian, I think he performed adequately, but should just stop being the mouthpiece for PUB. This time, it's squarely on the PUB's court.

  3. If a minister can blame the flooding on the change in the weather, then anybody can be a minister. I can come out with more creative excuses. VB is not paid peanuts to talk c**k, I expected better even if their pay is adjusted down. Don't perform, step down, that goes for civil servants as well

  4. Looks like the gods don't want to make VV's life any easier considering his insensitive remarks towards his fellow human beings. But if VV is not an engineer, why didn't our PM select a doctor to be in charge of longkangs ?

    Wouldn't that jamban lady made a better choice ? Our PM have no brains of his own meh ?

  5. Frankly the govt should immediately sack the PUB CEO. This will be the most effective way to (i) send the message not to f*ck around anymore, (ii) set the tone for accountability, and (iii) motivate others to quickly come out with real solutions instead of blaming god or global warming. If Vivi is too sissy and don't want to get his hands dirty to sack the CEO, then frankly both the CEO and Vivi ought to be sacked together.

  6. If Vivian is smart, he must fire PUB CEO Khoo. This is an organization that is poorly run. Flooding, computer glitches are just symptoms. If PUB is a private contractor, it would have been fired long ago for bad engineering and planning.

    If Vivian does not hold anyone accountable, he will be blamed for any subsequent flooding to come, and there will likely be many. He surely does not want to be the next GY in 2016.

  7. A few weeks ago at the SP graduation 2011, khoo teng chye was the guest speaker. before his speech, the mc took about 5 minutes to introduce him, ceo pub, degree in xxx, master degreee in yyy, awarded zzzz, etc... and during the speech, he talked so much about the marina barrage, a forsight of lky flood prevention mechanism.

  8. The PUB CEO should offer to resign and PM Lee can thank him for it, then appoint him to head a task force to look into nuclear be managed by PUB. LOL

    In the mean time, PM Lee should initiate a special committee comprising of MG ChanCS, BG Tan, Teo Ser Luck, etc, to help VivianB solve the flooding problem...a great opportunity to prove to the 40% Sporeans that they can trust the PAP selection process. LOL

  9. "For that particular day, what happened was that the rate of increase for the water was pretty high; it was so high that it bypassed the trigger points of 75% and 90% levels. So the SMS alert was not sent," said PUB's director for infocomm department, Peng Kah Poh.

    This is the most absurd bug that I've come across, somemore from a supposedly commissioned system. What he said was that every 2 minutes it checks if level=75% or level=90% and send SMS if required. Shouldn't that be 'greater or equal' instead of equal? And why 2 minutes? If the water level is that high, as in for example 90%, all hell should break loose and emergency alarm activated. Better safe than sorry. What kind of design was that?

  10. i don't know what to say...sigh

  11. Almost all CEO and chairman of stat boards including SMRT are concerned of drawing their fat pay & bonuses. If SMRT ceo can asked whether people choose to board a crowded train and PUB blamed freaky weather and debris for the flood even after one year on from the 50-year freaky incident in orchard road, you can expect CEO of PA, HBD and even the current salary review committee to come out even more lame things in the near future.

  12. The PUB guy got a top National day award medal
    depite the flooding in Orchard Rd last year.
    Maybe he's trying another shot at this year's award?

  13. I can't remember this incident since it's a while ago. Isn't this the same stat board (PUB) who sue SAP the IT vendor many eons ago for its crappy ERP implementation which resulted in terrible billing mistakes? So was this also under the management of CEO Khoo too? If so, then the same stat board is now blaming
    1) Tech software glitch on failure to alert
    2) Specifically 2 high-end buildings who has insufficient drainage capacity
    3) Weather Change

    So 3 bloody excuses..why don't he show us his department's blueprint and identify the hot-areas that are flood-prone & danger spots, as well as the recorded historical data of water-level over past 5yrs to justify they are not sleeping on the job?

    Can't even get a simple drainage and flooding engineering solutions in order, don't even bother to talk about building nuclear facility here. You have a NO CONFIDENCE VOTE from us!

  14. Fantastic, Orchard Road was said to be less affected because the road was leveled/raised up.
    Very similar to saying there are less traffic congestion at a certain road because of ERP.

    I think Tanglin Area would not have flooded, if the Road at Orchard had not been raised. Of course me using commonsense to say so lah, it may not be perfectly or right leh. But, me will be 100% right to say that if the congestion at a certain ERPed road has lessen, other roads WILL HAVE HEAVIER TRAFFICS.

  15. flooding in the affected buildings was due to an "excessive amount of rain which fell directly into the basements"
    I laughed out loud when I first read that in the news. It is funny in a comic-tragic way.

    The water-sensing system is badly-designed in the first place -- inadequate/ missing trigger points, compounded by infrequent sensing intervals. The IT manager & system vendor should be replaced.

    And based on observations of the waterways that I'm familiar with, the readings provided at erratic 7-24min intervals (not every 2 mins as claimed by PUB) at PUB's real-time water-level webpage are frankly unreliable.

    Eg. For months (torrential rain or shine), one sensor kept stating 40cm water depth for a dammed canal with water that reaches to at least human head height on a dry day, when a man stands in the middle of the canal (yeah, I've seen foreign workers cast fishing nets in this manner). This unrealistic reading was only rectified at end May 2011 to an unchanging 3.94m or 3.85m ... not sure which is the real reading (if any), because the otherwise permanently-unchanging reading dropped abruptly on 08 Jun 11 afternoon. Another canal kept indicating 0.0m depth of water even during & after 1 hr of heavy rain -- which makes one wonder if the canal is built here to drain air. (The said reading was rectified to an unchanging 51cm as of end May 2011. Comically enough, according to the sensor, the water here remained at only 51cm deep during the 05 Jun 11 downpours.)

    The above is just 2 of several anomalies that I noticed -- there are too many to highlight. And neither is it the public's job to investigate every sensor reading & remind the owner-agency which sensors are giving ridiculous readings. In light of this, maybe some building owners failed to receive any flood-alerts on 05 Jun 11 because the culprit sensors were/are issuing fake readings.

  16. haha..LMAO. I think the entire PUB A-team so-called super grade civil servants should be sacked. And how much have they spent on? What exactly are these money going towards implementing? Are we sure the agencies involved are doing their jobs above board? Please ki-chiew if you're sleeping on taxpayers coffers.

  17. We should hire a reputable foreign enginerring consultant to evaluate and propose solutions to the persistent flooding problems.

  18. Sorry, such excuses do not wash......


    Well you will be pleased to know that we singaporeans are engaging the dutch experts to study the possible effects of rising sea waters, and possibly building giant seawall even! That was 2007. 4 yrs later, the same dept who engage outside engineering solution providers couldn't even do a simple flood-rising control system on our island, let alone trusting them to do an evaluation of this big scale project.

    Faithless servants do not do justice to the scope of their perfidy.

  20. Wow; flood alert by telecommunication, sms and whatever to subscribers. Will this service serves to save the merchandises, goods, properties and life of the victims of the floods? Will it be used as an excuse that the victims are pre-warned of impending floods and are therefore responsible for not preventing their live(life) and belongings from being damaged by the floods? Will the insurers claim that all flood damage claims will be void or lessen because victims fail to subscribe to flood alert and take preventive action?
    Having said the above, it is good to have flood alert service for travelers within the Island, especially those driving and commuters who can alter or change their routes in reaction to floods. However, making use of the alert as an extenuating and mitigating factor for excuses will hold no water. So, please do not make the flood alert sound so effective and essential, it helps but only a little or none at all.