Friday, June 3, 2011

Safety Takes A Back Seat

Equipped with that power drill, he could have saved a young life
It would appear that something tragic has to take place, before the authorities in Singapore will act on safety measures. Try explaining that to the parents of Indonesian student William Lim, who fell into a open drain because a protective barrier was not installed.

Assistant director of PUB's waterways department Choy Wai Kwong acknowledged he was aware the Mandalay Road stretch was the lowest point in the area. Despite the many instances of flash flooding across the island during the past year, the national water agency had scheduled plans to cover the exposed drains only by the first quarter of next year. It was not exactly the type of complicated public works undertaking that necessitated a call for tender and evaluation of bids. As a matter of fact, by noon of yesterday, one day after the loss of a young life, new railings were promptly installed along 15 m of the drain where flood waters had obscured the death trap at 2.40 pm on Wednesday. All that was needed to save the life of a 15 year old was an timely instruction from an officer in charge.

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, MP for the Moulmein-Kallang GRC area, actually claims he had informed the PUB about the flood prone Mandalay Road last year, after receiving feedback from residents in the vicinity. PUB officials may have ignored him because they were reporting to Yaacob Ibrahim then. But, as Lui reports, PUB has for now taken immediate measures by installing railings to improve safety.

The new minister in charge of the PUB catchment and waterways department is none other than Vivian Balakrishnan, the gutter guy who moved heaven and earth for his YOG project schedule. Lui is Transport Minister. The Land Transport Authority is in charge of putting up the MRT platform screen doors, the absence of which resulted in a 14-year-old Thai girl losing both her legs in a train accident at Ang Mo Kio MRT station in April. LTA's excuse for their leisurely schedule for putting up the safety barriers was that they only have a 3 hour window each day for installation work.

While the various ministries, and their expensive ministers in charge, figure out their personal priorities, watch your step as you navigate the streets of Singapore. Until we have the right people in office, safety is your own responsibility.


  1. Now you need to re-introduce jury trials. With the real threat of being held liable for their ignorance and incompetence, they will at least take their job more seriously.

  2. BTW, I often see cyclists on pavements ringing their bells at pedestrians in front of them. Really, who has the right of way?

    Answers from Minister of Transport? LTA? Traffic Police?

  3. A tale of 2 human beings, one poor and one rich, from the same country.

    How come they can manage to install a railing so immediately only after 1 innocent life (a supposedly rich one) has been lost but not a single day earlier to preempt such a mishap ?

    And there is this poor hapless Indonesian maid (who could have been one of our daughters if we are not careful with our vote) who has to pay the price for her unfortunate fate sealed by her failure of the English test set up by our elite scholars ? Just curious wondering whether a maid needs English to do her household chores if she is employed by a Malay family ?

    Does our PAP Govt need a casualty or 2 (whether it's a poor or rich soul) to wake them up from their dreamland ?

  4. To be fair, I have been to many advanced first world countries and observed that there are no railings or protective installations on their railway platforms and river/lake sides. Yet, such accidents similar to Singaporeans' are not heard of. Is it the case of Singaporeans too dependent and lack of personal safety knowledge or up-bringing that cause these accidents? Uniquely Singapore.

  5. Anon@10:29am,

    The area is prone to fresh floods and the authority has received many warnings from concerned citizens. If this were a major city in the US, the settlement cost would likely have been in the millions.

  6. Not meaning to be unkind, it's fortuitous that the accidents happened to foreigners. They should rightly sue if our public servants have been negligent in foreseeing the problems.

    Yup, we seemed to take action without further delay only when a mishap takes place. Utterly contemptible.

    While Singaporeans may be accused of being inept in many things, navigating around dangerous places in this island is certainly not one of these.

  7. In general, it is unrealistic to expect the government to spread its tentacles into every sector of society to protect its citizens from every single danger that might befall them. Not every group can be covered, and in instances where this is not done there must be other sectors of society that spring up to fill the gap.

  8. @ anon 9.30am,
    inconsiderate cyclists, motorists, motorcyclists, public transport commuters, foodcourt customers, smokers, etc, can be found all over the island...but pales in comparison to the 81 asses in parliament, who are cheats and liars, who have no qualms grabbing tax-payers money.

  9. /// Anonymous said...

    BTW, I often see cyclists on pavements ringing their bells at pedestrians in front of them. Really, who has the right of way? ///

    Definitely pedestrians have the right of way - afterall, they are footpaths. I refused to give way, and if they ring their bell, I will give them my middle finger.

  10. //The said... I refused to give way, and if they ring their bell, I will give them my middle finger.

    Its precisely this attitude that makes Singapore such a sad place to live, where no one shares anything anymore....neighbours dont talk to each other any more...all they do is argue, argue, much pent up hatred for each other. We singaporeans are truely a bunch of nanny citizens, expecting everything to be taken care of.... no where in the world! Uniquely Singapore indeed!!

  11. anon@8:38 PM
    " much pent up hatred for each other."
    Obviously you haven't been to any of the opposition party election rallies! There, everybody's nice to everybody. Sharing sitting mats, bottled water (not NEWater), food (not from RCs), no jostling in the queues or car park disputes. All because we shared one common cause - hope for a better future!

  12. The PUB is now saying "that area in Balestier was not considered a "flood-prone area" as it is not low-lying."
    However, residents said floods during intense rains are common and sometimes they are unable to differentiate between the pavement and the drain.
    Who else must die before heads at PUB will roll?

  13. @Anonymous6:44 AM.
    Yes I have attended Opp rallies.... And I witnessed arguments & friction. Btw, I voted for the opposition, but that doesnt mean I blame everything on everybody else but myself. I even attended WP open house & had the misfortune of witnessing a majority race psn openly showing his frustration by stating "there are too many indians"(even tho there were a number a indians in the audience!), as if this country only belongs to the majority race! Cheh! "Hoping for a better future" for who??

    from: anon@8:38 PM

  14. /// Anonymous said...
    Its precisely this attitude that makes Singapore such a sad place to live, where no one shares anything anymore...
    June 3, 2011 8:38 PM ///

    Anon @ 8:38 - this is not about sharing or not sharing. Footpaths are meant for pedestrians. Cyclists are meant to cycle on the roads. In some places, there are designated cycle lanes. Therefore if they are using footpaths, they should give way to pedestrians, not the other way round. And to add salt to injury, they have the nerve to ring their bells. That's why I will tell them off.

  15. To The @June 6, 2011 8:50 AM,
    If that is the case, then why is it that the cars on the road also dont bother to give way to cyclist? So many cyclist have been killed due to the inconsiderate behavious of drivers. It is ALL abt sharing, coz in every instance I Singaporeans are not willing to share anything...its abt me me me attitude! If this is the attiude we shld adopt in this case, where are we going to draw the line? Why dont we just make Singapore livable for only one type of people, eg by race, or only for the elites as the poor are just to troublesome, or only cater to people with children only...and by the way lets also cull ALL the animals while we're at it...dogs, cats & birds are such a nuisance dont you think?! . Lets not accomodate anyone based on such rigid standards. Granted both pedestrians & cyclist need to be educated on how to share the path, I'd rather share my footpath with a cyclist who has the courtesy to ring his bell and tell me he is passing then a pedestrian & companion who cant even keep to a single lane when I pass them!

    from: anon@8:38 PM

  16. People will still walk on the cycling paths. Cyclists still cycle on the pedestrian paths.

    Bottomline.... we simply aren't a gracious society!

  17. Yes, but traffic rules and common-sense should prevail. Trucks and buses should watch out for cars; cars should watch out for motor-cycles and bicycles; and bicycles should watch out for pedestrians.

    Yes, it is about sharing, but when both are about to occupy the same space, the bigger and more dangerous should give way to the small and more vulnerable.

  18. With intense flood that is capable of flushing and gushing everything (including human beings) into the pit of the tunnel. There should be no delay in installing railing along all potential harzard drainage systems. LKY can blame god and no amount of engineers can stop the flood, but I am sure installation of some safety measures to prevent further lost of life do not require scholars to do so, general workers can do equally swift job to put all these railing in place. Further excuse is not an option for the ruling party.

  19. Personally, the slow should give way to the fast. i.e. pedestrian should not hog the pathway, stick to one side.

    And in Singapore at least, a cyclist belongs to footpaths. The 'category' in terms of weight is too different from cars/trucks to bicycle (dangerous is thus much higher, but a single person is not that diff from a bicycle.

    and no, I am not a cyclist.

  20. Is this a coincidence or what? Girl lost legs in MRT accident is foreigner. Maid who died in water tank was a foreigner. Boy who drowned in drain, ALSO a foreigner. Wang Na was murdered also by a foreigner. Would it seem to foreigners that Singapore is a dangerous to come to?

  21. I think the former "Water-man" (remember Orchard Road flood last June) Yacob Ibrahim should take responsibility for not rattling the cage of Khoo TC to get PUB to put up safety barriers as an interim solution instead of waiting for canal deepening works scheduled to start next year.