SINGAPORE: A former ruling party Member of Parliament (MP) is among those who are decrying the Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) announcement that EZ-Link cards and NETS FlashPay cards will no longer be accepted on public transport from June and that all non-concession cards must be upgraded to SimplyGo EZ-Link cards or NETS prepaid cards.

The change has set off a flurry of online criticism, with critics questioning why the existing system needs fixing as it is not broken. A segment of Singaporeans online are upset that the SimplyGo cards do not display a card’s balance at the MRT gantry or bus card reader and only show the words “SimplyGo”.

While LTA said that this feature is technically feasible but will slow the flow of commuters at the gantries, Singaporeans have asserted that the new system is inconvenient as they will not be able to see their card balance at a glance and will have to take an extra step to check whether their card needs a top-up.

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Others lamented the inconvenience for those who drive, pointing out that the same card can no longer be used for Electronic Road Pricing (ERP), parking, and public transport under the new system.

Calls for integrating new systems with old ones, rather than eliminating existing systems, have also emerged in online discussions. Amid the furore, former MP Irene Ng has joined those who feel this latest push to digitalise may be an inconvenience.

Joining the chorus of discontent through a Facebook post on Thursday (11 Jan), Ms Ng lamented: “Aiyoh, another app? And another thing to sort out when I am back in SG. I have several EZ-link cards for MRT and bus travels.

I doubt if my SG phone, which usually runs out of battery within two hours, will allow me to download any more apps. It’s such an old model that the new version of WhatsApp refuse to load (so if any of you has been whatsapping me on my SG phone, this is why I have not replied, sorry.)”

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She added, “Have not upgraded my phone for years, and not inclined to. Don’t want to be a Luddite, but *bawl*.”

A veteran journalist, Ms Ng was the Senior Political Correspondent of The Straits Times before she joined politics. She later served as a director at the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).

Ms Ng was placed in the People’s Action Party (PAP) team for Tampines GRC in her maiden election in 2001, and she was voted into Parliament that year, holding on to her seat in the 2006 and 2011 general elections. She served as MP for almost a decade and a half before leaving politics ahead of the 2015 general election.