Conceived as a measure to relieve traffic congestion, the ERP system was a stillborn from day one. Whether one is rushing to work, or heading home for quality time with the family, the rare alternative route, if one is available at all, would be destination to another traffic jam. Take the train, and risk another hold-up, as in yesterday's instance of disruption at two sections of the MRT system. Both were attributed to train faults, probably euphemism for mechanical failure or another botched maintenance job.
So exactly how does changing the operating hours of the north bound CTE from 5.30 to 8pm, instead of till 10.30 pm on weekdays, ensure a smooth traffic flow? It doesn't. The real reason behind the scam is found in Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew's Freudian slip, that there was room to shorten the evening ERP hours in selected areas, "especially if personal benefits outweighed economic ones." Need we expound on who benefits from the ERP charges collected?
When extended evening ERP hours were introduced for the CTE in 2007 - right after GE 2006 - motorists had highlighted the move will hit those who value dinner time with the family, instead of another night out at the karaoke lounges. It took them till now - after the election setback of GE 2011 - to "give motorists greater flexibility in timing their homebound trips."
No wonder Sylvia Lim's call for more a more holistic economic indicator, one that includes happiness, fell on deaf ears. "Prosperity and progress are certainly important, but they cannot be ends in themselves. They should be the means to an end - the happiness of Singaporeans as a whole," she said. Trust the dense Cedric fool to insist that happiness is not a universal attribute, that a smile in a Bhutan is different from a smile in Singapore. By his logic, because "we are exposed to the seas, exposed to the onslaught of competition from the world, we were dealt a different deck of cards", we should wipe the smirk off our faces. Except for those laughing all the way to the bank to collect their GDP-linked bonuses.