The first reaction to the news was like, desperate times require desperate measures. “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated …” was occasioned by erroneous newspaper accounts of Mark Twain being ill or dead. Speculation about Lui Tuck Yew being out of the sweepstakes race has been torpedoed by his announcement of a public transportation fare reduction in December.
Even the coterie of sycophants at the Public Transport Council (PTC) was taken by surprise. They had just completed their dastardly deed of hiking fares by 2.8% in April in the face of nose-diving crude oil prices; their brains are good only for computational activity once a year. The PTC is supposed to be an independent body charged with regulating public transport fares, and the next review exercise is scheduled to begin at the end of the year, using 2014 indices. And what about the poor Lieutenant-General in charge of the trains, how is he going to pay for the 30,662 insulators of the North-South and East-West lines he promised to change out? Shelve it for the next spectacular breakdown?
And why implement in December? If a major-general can hand out free packet rice and provide buses to the rallies, why can’t the rear-admiral be generous in September? Transport Minister Lui claims the intent is to celebrate the opening of the second phase of the Downtown Line. While every other minister is throwing taxpayers’ money for the SG50 celebrations.
The Transport Minister is flexing his muscles to the max, “I encourage the PTC to pass on this 1.9 per cent reduction fully to commuters.” You’re the man, Lui, why not go the whole hog and demand a 5.0 % reduction from the “independent” PTC? Heck, push it to 50% – in line with the current SG50 mania – and the electorate will make you president.