Monday, December 27, 2010

Singapore's THIRD-WORLD Causeway Traffic CHAOS!

Readers of my blog know I am an admirer of LKY and the fantastic trasformation he has achieved for Singapore but unfortunately there are a few instances of "third world" standards still evident in Singapore.
The most glaring example of this is the manner in which traffic is managed as it exits Singapore at the Woodlands CIQ.
I have written earlier some years back about how traffic can be improved and one of these measures was actually adopted by the traffic authorities about a year ago; ie banning the traffic from Woodlands town from joining the Causeway stream.
Last night it was bedlam as usual. It seems the authorities do not realise or expect that there would be heavy traffic on the Sunday night when many visitors want to return to get back to work on the Monday after Christmas.
It took me one hour to travel 500metres across the Woodlands Crossing as there was not a single traffic cop to ensure that motorists queued in an orderly fashion and that yellow boxes were respected.
With the opening of the IRs and wanting to increase more visitors from Malaysia to keep the tills ringing, the LTA has even reduced the hours of CAR ENTRY restrictions with Malaysian cars being allowed free entry after 12noon during the school holidays.
Maybe the LTA can follow the measures proposed by the British authorities on Heathrow's travel chaos?
For example, the KPIs of the immigration and traffic chiefs in charge of Woodlands should be:
1.No vehicle will take more than 20minutes to crossover the Woodlands Crossing.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Home for the Christmas Holidays...

Two of my daughters are back this year for Christmas and with the havoc in London, I thought that both would not make it back.
The first daughter and her husband from London were on the tarmac for a few hours before the flight was abandoned and they spent at least six hours getting back to their home.
There was no information from Heathrow and the Singapore Airline website did not have reliable updates. So my daughter and son-in-law made another trip to the airport without even knowing that the flight was leaving. They were lucky as the next day the police were barring anyone from entering who did not have a confirmed flight. So their flight was delayed further when a few bags had to be offloaded as the passeners were missing. Hardly surprising when the information was non-existent!
So the two managed to get to Singapore with about 24 hours delay.
The scenes at Heathrow apparently were like a war zone.
It's a big difference what time can do to improve the situation. My other daughter had a slightly different set of problems to navigate. Her flight was from St.John's in Newfoundland to Toronto for the first leg and then from Toronto to Changi via Heathrow.
The people at St. John's could not advise if the flight would take off from Toronto and my dughter had to fly there to find out. In Toronto they would not confirm that the flight from Heathrow was on. Her ticket was purchased from SQ and the first stage from Toronto was a code-share with Air Canada. However, the Toronto desk advised the luggage could not be checked through to Changi.
This meant that she was expected to collect her bag, check out and then check in again through security and the time frame was about 2.5hours - not easy for a huge airport like Heathrow and now there were also thousands of people milling around.
I won't describe the colourful exchanges my daughter had with the airlines' counter staff.
Her flight from Toronto was the only one of four planned that left for Heathrow and when she arrived the bags also appeared like magic in double quick time. The service was extra fast as it was the only plane to be unloaded.
By then more information was being uploaded and when I checked for her arrival yesterday, there were 9 pages of fine print of all the arrivals and departures. According to the Airport CEO, they had been able to discuss and agree with airline chiefs on a realistic schedule of flights.
Although the flight SQ317 was delayed by about an hour, it was reassuring to see that it was on both SIA and Heathrow websites.
Thus that is how we are able to have a nice family reunion in Singapore this year. When my daughter in London told us of the horrific scenes at Heathrow, we thought that was the end of the holiday plans.
So as we gather to celebrate Christmas, I wish my Christian readers a Holy Christmas and a Happy New Year.
To all readers, please spend quality time with your loved ones and if you are driving, please take extra care on the roads.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Getting Malaysians to Register as Voters

I spent about 3 hours on Saturday as a volunter with the Johor People's Action Group to help voters register and change address.
It was an interesting experience and the first time I got involved with part of the electoral process.
What was even more interesting were the different responses as I approached adults with a multi-lingual placard with the query "Have you registered as a voter?"

Some folks responded , "Yes" and gave a friendly smile - a minority.
Some said "No" and just walked off.
Many were too busy and waved me away.
A few were Singaporeans and said so but a few also did not want to disclose they had come to shop in JB. Scared of being targetted?
The site was at Sutera Mall, a popular shopping centre for Singaporeans.

The work was a little tiring unless you limited your approach and became selective but my style was to approach anyone and everyone.
I managed to get 6 to 10 persons to the table where the registration process could be completed. Maybe I will also attend training to become a polling agent.
Let's see how it goes.
There was also a registration exercise by the SPR in Taman Daya's EconMart on Sunday (for double pay?) but the approach was so low-key I wonder how many people registered.
There was the standard sign informing shoppers but it was not easy to find the officials as they placed the table in such a position that most shoppers would not notice them and also the 3 middle-aged civil servants were all seated at the table and no one approached any of the shopers.
I guess that is the basic difference between work done by civil servants and that done by an NGO.
I wonder if the SPR offers any incentives to staff to register more voters or is it just based on time spent on the job?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Water Woes of Malaysia and Especially SELANGOR....

Water is a basic necessity for mankind and one wonders why the BN government colluded with the previous Selangor government to piratise the water distribution companies that are now burdened with debt and cannot even operate without soft loans guaranteed by the MoF.
In the good old days, water was a relatively simple operation. We build reservoirs or pump water from rivers and the CEO of the Selangor Water Board would have drawn perhaps RM15,000 per month plus other allowances.
Fastforward to 2010 and we discover that the CEO of SYABAS draws a monthly salary of RM425k per month. The figure looks unbelievable.....RM425k per month for ensuring that our copious rainwater is properly pumped through the pipes?
Even the Sultan of Selangor is urging the state and federal governments to work out their differences. I wonder what he thought of the truly fabulous deal the CEO had wrangled for himself.
So the people protested in KL and were subjected to the usual treatment of tear gas and water cannon and you can read the response of malaysiakini readers here.
To me the stance taken by Selangor is correct. Water should be controlled by the state with the Federal government playing a coordinating role only.
Even in Johor, the state also went into piratisation mode when the state's water resources were sold to a public company just 3 years after the IPO where they pledged they wanted water consumers to own part of the company. It was followed by the mandatory takeover of all shareholders. And Johor's water is about the most expensive in Malaysia.
I guess they want to recoup some of the losses from Malaysians after selling the water cheaply to Singapore.