Mr Lee Hsien Loong finally emerged from wherever he was cocooned to tell Singaporeans to be realistic because it is too costly to upgrade our canal system to make Singapore flood-free. “It is not worth it,” he says. (Read statement here.)
But really, Mr Prime Minister, how much would it cost to make Singapore flood-free? Ten, twenty, thirty billion dollars? More than $140 billion? Because that is the amount Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Ms Ho Ching lost in 2008 through failed invesments.
We may or may not be able to forevermore prevent floods from happening in Singapore, but that should not deter the Government from making it the goal.
Three floods in just as many weeks, with the latest one happening yesterday, have caused damage to property in the millions of dollars. The worse part is that this Government cannot bring itself to say sorry and take responsibility. Instead it goes through its quite sickening game of smoke and mirrors.
Nowhere in the Straits Times report released by the Prime Minister’s Office – imagine the White House using a CNN report as Mr Obama’s statement – does the Prime Minister acknowledge responsibility. The PUB is mentioned (in defence of it), and even Singaporeans are mentioned. But there is not a single word about his administration taking responsibility.
Instead, he chastises Singaporeans for being unrealistic by expecting a flood-free Singapore, forgetting that it was his environment minister who said that such floods occurred only once in half-a-century. But why should Singaporeans be realistic when Ministers pay themselves quite unrealistic salaries?
He then points out that it is better to prevent widespread flooding, implying that the current flooding is not really widespread. Let’s see: In the last three weeks Orchard Road, Sin Ming Road, Boon Lay Road, Dunearn Road, Tai Seng Road, Kampong Ampat Road, MacPherson Road, and Paterson Road (and counting) were flooded. Is this not widespread enough for Mr Lee?
Finally the PM tells the people that they are not free of blame for the floods. Singaporeans, he says, “must prevent litter from choking up our drains.” This tactic is similar to the one his father used. Mr Lee Kuan Yew bizarrely chided the people for being complacent when Mr Mas Selamat, a suspected terrorist, escaped whilst under detention.
What evidence is there that litter choked the drains and caused the floods to occur? Isn’t Singapore one of the most litter-free cities in the world where even chewing gum is banned? The PM must show proof that the floods were a result of litter clogging the drains. Otherwise he should stop trying to distract Singaporeans from the real issue which is that it was poor planning by the Government that caused the floods.
The truth is that the Prime Minister is conveniently deflecting the blame onto the people because this Government feels that it can do no wrong and, therefore, is above accountability.
No one expects Singapore to be flood-free, but we expect the PAP to be humble and apologise when it has failed to do its job properly instead of making cockamamie excuses like flash floods occuring only once every 50 years or that a blocked culvert caused Orchard Road to flood or that litter clogged up our drains.
The Government should then undertake an immediate and comprehensive study of our drainage system, including research on whether the massive land reclamation taking place around the Marina South area is contributing to the floods.
It’s objective should be to make Singapore flood free and use the money from the GIC and Temasek Holdings to fund the infrastructural projects.
The really scary part is that we are only in the month of June where downpours, though not uncommon, are nothing compared to the rains that come during the year-end Monsoons.