When Lee Kuan Yew was asked in July 2010 if he thought the response from the various agencies to the recent spate of floods in Singapore was sufficient, he was quoted as saying,"whatever we do when we get extraordinary rains like we had recently, no amount of engineering can prevent flooding." Oops, looks like another "I stand corrected" statement is in order.
The Public Utilities Board (PUB) just announced that it will be spending about $750 million over the next 5 years to carry out 20 drainage improvement projects to achieve a higher level of flood protection. Presumably most of the money will be allocated for implementing the recommendations of the Expert Panel for Drainage Design and Flood Protection Measures, like introducing a polymer lining to smoothen the Stamford canal walls and speed up the water discharge. Longer-term solutions mooted include the construction of a diversion canal and detention ponds, items which Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan was so hesitant to commit on - "These are very expensive projects. We have to approach this methodically and carefully." (MyPaper, 3 Jan 2012)
Actually, that's the worrying part. This is the guy who was given $104 million to spend for YOG and ended up with a bloated $387 million expense. Of which $79.8 million was parked as "Other Costs", an accounting entry that was not even picked up for query by the Auditor General. Yet the then 50-year-old, who was heading the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), insisted that his team "did not overspend or waste or squander the $387 million budget" allocated to the project - note the sneaky sleight of hand here, actual $387m amount expended (per report card presented in parliament) equals exactly the revised $387m budget proposed (supposedly figure approved by PM Lee).
Which means the $750 million can easily balloon to $2.2++ billion. With pro-rated "Other Costs" to match. Instead of more CCTVs to monitor flood-prone areas, what we need is a closer watch of these profligates at the helm. Note only $2 million is needed to remove the sewer and NEWater pipelines from Stamford Canal and line it with polymer, leaving lots of room to fiddle with $748 million.