Repeat after us: SMRT is not a private company

June 21, 2010
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

As if it is not disturbing enough that this Government left totally exposed the Changi MRT depot to the dangers of terrorism, it is now doing the unthinkable – trying to divert attention by claiming that the SMRT is private company and therefore not under its purview.

The latest person to attempt this reprehensible stunt is Law Minister K Shanmugam who said yesterday that the SMRT is not a “government entity” and therefore it is “impossible, and unacceptable, to require the taxpayer to pay for the security of all these profit- making companies.”

Dr Chee Soon Juan pointed out in the video below that SMRT is irrefutably a government company. Majority of SMRT shares are owned by the Government. Just because the SMRT is listed and dividends are paid out, it does not mean the company is a private one. The Government still has the final say on how the system operates.

It is completely outrageous for the ministers to try to squirm out of this matter by painting the SMRT to be a private company.

Even if we accept that SMRT is a private company, it must be remembered that the trains do not just service employees and staff of the company. They ferry members of the public. This necessitates the Government’s strict involvement in ensuring the safety of commuters.

The PAP is quick (and often unjustifiably so) to seize on accolades about anything Singaporean and cover itself with glory. But when it makes a blunder, its cowardly instincts take over: It finds a scapegoat and points the finger at others.

We saw this in the Mas Selamat howler where police officers were blamed for the debacle and sacked. We see this in the Orchard Road flood where the PUB is made to take the stick. Now the SMRT is made the whipping boy. 

Such behaviour is unbecoming and totally juvenile. In a democratic society, the ministers responsible would have been severely disciplined and the ruling party would have had to face the public’s wrath.

In Singapore, however, the PAP gets away with such travesty only because it controls the press and puts in place laws that prevent the public from expressing its displeasure. As a result the ministers know that whatever they do and however badly they perform, they are politically protected. This breeds arrogance and complacency, resulting in more mishaps.

The tragedy is that the people end up being the ones paying for the Government’s blunders. Meanwhile the ministers live, work and travel in highly secured systems – all paid for by the public.

The SDP is touched by Mr Shanmugam’s concern that taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for private security. The Law Minister should rest easy because Singaporeans do not mind paying for security on our MRT trains. What we object to is the use of our money to lavish obscene salaries on ministers who don’t deserve them, especially when they make blunder after excruciating blunder.

Singaporeans must increase pressure on the PAP, especially Home Affairs Minister Mr Wong Kan Seng, to hold it responsible for the repeated breaches in our security systems.

We must use the New Media to send messages to the ministers that their evasion of responsibility is completely unacceptable. Singaporeans must not allow the PAP to get away by pinning the latest security fiasco on the SMRT.