18 August 2008

Purpose Of ERP?

Now, I am totally lost. Nope, not because the GPS on my motorbike is not working... actually I don't have a GPS on my bike :p

Can someone remind me again on the purpose of ERP? While the heading in this ST article suggest ERP is to keep the traffic flowing, the article also quoted PM Lee saying

"When ERP was increased, we also reduced road tax and improved public transport. As a result, many more Singaporeans can now own cars. With more cars on the road, we need to increase ERP to keep traffic flowing." (ST, 17 Aug)

Forgive my ignorance but I perceive it to mean ERP increase is for the purpose of ... increasing ERP? Ok... maybe what he meant was ERP increase has created the unintended result of ERP increase. If I work backwards, the unintended ERP increase is a result of more cars on the road. Backtrack a bit more, i.e. more cars on the road is caused by... reduced road tax and improved public transport?

So what are we actually trying to achieve? Are we encouraging Singaporeans to switch to public transport? Or are we encouraging Singaporeans to own a car? My simple mind simply cannot work out the logic.

08 August 2008

Apathetic Singaporeans?

For quite a number of years and quite often, I've read or heard about Singaporeans being apathetic about the socio-political issues here. The most recent that I've seen is from Aaron. He guessed that we are apathetic because we are given "a roof over the head and a full stomach" and Singaporeans "will only become interested in socio-political issues if they are starving or they have to sleep on the streets." Perhaps that is true. Perhaps joblessness, homelessness and starvation was the driving force, the fuel for the fire in the bellies of the Singapore pioneers to engage in socio-political issues,

or do we really have to go into that to get Singaporeans to be engaged? Especially our youths? Perhaps there is an alternative - an alternative that I experienced and will share with you now.

I was apathetic. I don't even know what is an MP, the purpose of parliament, what are political parties, who's in what party etc. When it comes to social issues, all I know is that the destitutes are taken care by the charity organisations, once in a while school or army dish me a donation card/bin and tell me to help in charity, I get attend school in sardined-packed buses and a lot other mundane or should I say bread and butter issues. This understanding of socio-political issues had stuck with me even when I'm 21 (legal age for voting), even after I got married about 5 years later.

Why? Simply because I know someone has voted for someone and that voted someone will take good care of Singapore. I couldn't care more as long as I have a job, a house and my family is well taken care of. However, this apathy was dispelled, on the very day when I received the Election notice that I am supposed to vote.

"Who is this guy? Who is this contender? What have they done? What needs to be done around my constituency? Who can do a better job in addressing the needs of the residents? Who can do a better job to address the needs of Singapore? What are the needs of Singapore?" and so, with only a few weeks to V-day (it was the 2001 election and from what I know, one of the shortest period between announcement to voting day), I did a frantic search on whatever I know about the two candidates and yielded very... very little information.

When V-day arrived, the only reason I voted for that particular candidate was a very simple letter addressed to the residents a couple of years back. I will not tell you the content of that letter because it is not the point. The point is, that is the only thing that I know of, he did for the residents and I know absolutely nothing about the other candidate.

From that day onwards, I told myself to read up more, to find out more. It may be years before I get to vote again or perhaps never will I have the chance again but I want to vote wisely with an informed choice. It was a good thing that I did that because come 2006, my area was contested again and I must say I know who I am voting for.

Did hunger, poverty and homelessness drive me to become interested in Singapore's socio-political issues? For your information, I'm still gainfully employed, I still have my HDB flat and none of my family members are starving... except when I'm on a diet.

My point? Let the people know they have a say and they can make a difference. They earlier they know, the more interested they'll be and the earlier the Government can find good leaders to groom.