Singapore—The announcement November 4 in Parliament that e-scooters were being banned from public footpaths has drawn mixed reactions from Singaporeans, with the unhappiest and most vocal group against the ban being food delivery riders whose livelihoods have been threatened by it.
Many of these PMD (Personal Mobility Device) riders have taken to airing their concerns to their Members of Parliament in Meet-the-People (MPS) sessions.
But two recent MPSs were attended not only by food delivery riders but also by opposition leader Goh Meng Seng, who is the head of the People’s Power Party (PPP).
Mr Goh attended the November 12 MPSs of Lam Pin Min, Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Transport as well as the one of Chee Hong Tat, MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh, and Senior Minister of State.
The PPP head, who says he has a “comprehensive, long-term solution” to the PMD problem, spoke up at the meeting with Dr Lam, and while what he said exactly has gone unreported, he was cheered several times by the MPS attendees.
In a Facebook post, Dr Lam showed that he did not take too kindly to Mr Goh’s input at the MPS, although he refrained from mentioning the PPP head by name. But since Mr Goh was recorded on video as having attended the MPS, his identity is not difficult to deduce.
This evening, I had a frank dialogue with more than 300 PMD riders including food delivery riders at Sengkang West…
Dr Lam did not hold back in his post, calling the opposition head’s actions “irresponsible and abhorrent” and saying that he had come to the MPS “to politicise the issue and stoke the emotions of those present.”
He wrote, “Most people who came down today had genuine reasons to be there – except for a member of an opposition party who came to politicise the issue and stoke the emotions of those present. Such actions are irresponsible and abhorrent. They do not benefit anyone, and distracted us from the main objective of giving the PMD riding community support during this period and helping them to understand that there is help available for them.”
Dr Lam then appealed for “graciousness” and consideration for and from PMD riders and pedestrians alike.
“As we move forward from here, I hope that pedestrians can also spare a thought for responsible PMD riders and keep to footpaths where possible, and for PMD riders to also play their part and look out for pedestrians. Graciousness is a two-way street, and key in a society that is learning to grapple with disruptive technologies in our lives. Only by looking out for one another can we overcome our current challenges and realise our original vision of active mobility.
On his part, Mr Goh admitted on his own Facebook account that he had “gatecrashed” the MPSs of two PAP MPs.
Thought of the Day – Gate Crashing Clueless MinistersI have taken the trouble to "gate crash" two PAP Meet the People…
This is his version of what transpired at the meeting:
“Dr Lam was ending his speech on why the decision of banning PMD from footpath was made when I arrived. He was responding to question when he kept saying that all other measures “suggested” (I suspect most of it come from my party’s position) of licensing and training “cannot guarantee 100% no accident”. He was going round and round about how the “ideal situation” of Zero Accident cannot be met and thus, MOT has no choice but to ban PMD from footpath.
I had heard him for 10 minutes and decided to respond. I said there is no “Ideal Situation” in this world. We have car accidents on the road everyday but do we ban all the vehicles on the road? There was an uproar.
I made the point that either you believe PMD will bring benefits to our society or not. If not, then ban it. If yes, look at measures to get it used safely. He insisted that he values PMD but I told him, what he said doesn’t tally with what he did… in banning it! Anyway, he wanted me to allow him to answer to his residents first, so I obliged…”
The rest of Mr Goh’s post can be read here.
The PPP leader also sought to clarify that he did not heckle Dr Lam, as had been reported in an article. “This may really be a silly night but contrary to what Mothership reported, I didn’t “Heckle” Dr Lam Pin Min. He is Minister of State for goodness sake! Not some weaklings of some sort! I didn’t use “derisory” words against him at all! Just a matter of questions which he could hardly answer. If asking questions that KO a Minister could be regarded as “heckling”, then so be it.”