This is the 4-D week. No, I am not celebrating winning $50k playing my favourite numbers, though I wish I am. Sorry, no Huat Ah!
It is more like What Dah. What a week.
Let’s start with the first D – Dialogue. No doubt, water is a national resource. Anyone who has ever lived through the water rationing and public standpipe days of the 1960s will support every government effort to make sure Singaporeans continue to have clean water. I certainly do. So kudos to our achievements, ownself praise ownself lah – and why not?
The question now is: How do we get this message – that water is precious – through, given that a Reach feedback survey says 52 per cent of 1,100 citizens polled disagree with the upcoming price hike? Only 37 per cent agree, with 24 per cent neutral. That’s a huge number of unconvinced people. What went wrong?
We can do no worse than quote an excellent article which appeared in The Straits Times March 22: “Engage the population in the formulation of future policies through a robust communication strategy with all the facts, figures and implications of possible decisions.” The authors were Prof Asit Biswas, a Distinguished Fellow of the LKY School of Public Policy, NUS, and Dr Cecilia Tortajada, a Senior Research Fellow at its Institute of Water Policy.
There is a host of vital information in the article itself on where we stand on how much excessive water we have been consuming, compared to other cities, and how much we ought to be consuming. Reflect some of these facts and targets in each month’s water bill.
My simple take is this: Through sheer self interest and lack of money, lower-income Singaporeans will naturally be careful about water usage. Their lifestyle dictates low consumption and less wastage. So please don’t go lecturing these poor citizens. Worry more about the middle-class and upper middle-class. They ought to be the main target groups. Bigger houses, gardens, more cars, more maids, super washing machines – all this means more water needed, and wasted.
The second D – Dynamic pricing, as in the upcoming surge pricing for taxis. From Wednesday, commuters can choose to book a taxi with fares that vary with demand. Getting a taxi through JustGrab means paying lower fares during off-peak hours and after midnight but be prepared for higher fares during peak hours. Great, if commuters are now better served because I continue to see and always see taxis as a public service and not an alternative form of personal car usage by their drivers.
As a fairly frequent user of taxis during peak hours and weekends, I offer just these thoughts: First, taxi drivers should stop whining about poor business when there are long queues at taxi stands in the city and some shopping malls, especially during peak hours. Second, stop parking your vehicles for long hours at Kranji and off-course betting centres on Sundays – and deprive the public of hundreds of taxis on these high demand weekend days. Let others drive your vehicles, if you wish to gamble.
Next D is Diversity.
Blogger Amos Yee, who has just been granted political asylum by an US immigration judge in Chicago, represents one type of diversity, whether you like him or not, whether you agree or disagree with him.
Judge Samuel Cole ruled that Amos’ prosecution, detention and maltreatment at the hands of the Singapore authorities “constitute(s) persecution on account of Amos’ political opinions”, and called him a “young political dissident”, Today newspaper reported.
“The evidence presented at the hearing demonstrates Singapore’s prosecution of Amos was a pretext to silence his political opinions critical of the Singapore government,” Mr Cole wrote. The US Department of Homeland Security had opposed Amos’ asylum application, claiming the Singapore government legitimately prosecuted Amos.
Win some, lose some. You just can’t expect everyone to agree with you, much less love you, or even respect you.
On that same note of diversity, it is really time for the authorities to stop meddling with local soccer. Fifa says so. Election rules for Football Association of Singapore office bearers have been amended to pave the way for the first free election next month. No more helicoptered transplanting of government-linked people who may not know an offside ruling from a banana kick.
I salute the two teams fighting it out to helm the FAS. Lim Kia Tong, Teo Hock Seng, Bernard Tan, Edwin Tong, Bill Ng, Annabel Pennefather – may the best team and best people win. Just bring the crowds back, for a start.
As the soccer fraternity begins to get its act together again, this time fuelled mainly by private enterprise and genuine sports or soccer lovers and not clueless, often arrogant wannabes, the flag of Singapore swimming flies high in the US. Quah Ting Wen has caught up with the redoubtable Joseph Schooling. He came in second in the 200-yard butterfly final at the prestigious and highly competitive National Collegiate Athletic Association Div 1 Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships. Joseph had a fever and was last in his heat for the event, though he did well to finish second in the earlier 100-yard butterfly final. One hundred per cent unalloyed homegrown talent, not imported window-dressing fakes.
Sense And Nonsense is a weekly series. Tan Bah Bah is a former senior leader writer with The Straits Times. He was also managing editor of a local magazine publishing company.