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First of all, congratulations on your comic drawing skills. It’s a very effective way of self expression. I like how the foreigners in Singapore are also represented on the extreme left of the pack. That’s inclusiveness for you.
Your gripe here i believe, is that SMRT, despite holding a privileged monopolistic position as Singapore’s only subway operator, is allowed to list publicly and in so doing, pursues a capitalistic profit driven agenda as any other PLCs do, churning out record profits every year.
On the other hand, we have to grapple with the paradox that is the government speaking of the bestowment of heavy subsidies to keep public transportation fares low, despite the observation that our train fares are not much more competitive than comparable cities given the level of service provided.
I am in disagreement as well but I’d like to moderate this resentful sentiment with the help of these 2 observations:
1. As spelled out in the linked CNA article in your story, the government subsidies are for the initial capital expenditure to build and develop the infrastructure. SMRT steps in as an operator to manage the day-to-day running of the buses/ trains. The profits generated, be it from the retail space or from passenger fares is derived from operating activities, which are not subsidised.
2. From my reading of our founding father’s memoirs, I believe the practice of taking our country’s utilities providers public is to foster a sense of ownership amongst our citizens, giving them a chance to benefit from the profit making model and reduce the resentment from having to pay for public services by giving the common man a piece of the pie. This was the philosophy in the 90’s when Singtel was floated.
Every government in the world would like to keep transportation fares down to attract investments and win votes. If a feasible policy could be suggested by this blog that could address the issue, I am sure it will be seriously considered.
PS: Wow. WordPress’s spell check sucks!
Thanks for your views. I should invite you to guest blog
I can’t actually find fault in the government paying for infrastructure spending, but it’s the way the message was conveyed that comes across as a bit insensitive, and could easily incur the ire of the public. But I do note that he was responding to questions put to him in parliament.
Good to know.
Not sure how much I can contribute to this blog but happy to help!
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