I am distraught that Minister Lui Tuck Yew is stepping down. I have known Mr. Lui since I was an 18 year old JC student when as a LTC in the Navy, he mentored me for the Temasek Seminar. He was very patient with me and taught me a lot, despite his busy schedule. Mr. Lui is kind, humorous and does not not have a single bad bone in him. He also possesses a first-class mind.
Being Minister of Transport is a thankless job. Has there been a Transport Minister that has been loved? Yeo Ning Hong, Mah Bow Tan, Yeo Cheow Tong, Raymond Lim – his predecessors all had to deal with the same inherent un-squarable circles. To ensure a controlled population of cars needs a quota. But with a quota, prices go up as more affluent Singaporeans can afford to bid more. On public transport, every time prices go up by even 2%, people cry bloody murder. Yet, nobody wants to admit that fares have to be paid for either by taxes or commercially, and it is the same thing in the end.
Mr. Lui took over a public transport system in 2011 that faced many challenges. I do not want to go into details about the reasons here as it has been covered elsewhere, but suffice to say, it was not Mr. Lui’s fault.
Under the circumstances, he did his level best. COE prices were stabilised, and the bus operation system changed to a public-private partnership model and tendered out to foreign companies.
The train system would take time to improve since MRT lines, unlike housing cannot be built in 4 years. Maintenance is difficult when unlike in other cities, entire lines cannot be shut down for months for repair.
In the meantime, Mr. Lui continued suffering abuse that he did not deserve. Whenever a train broke down, he was abused. Whenever, bus fares went up, he was abused. Whenever COE results were announced, he was abused.
I would like to ask everyone to take a moment and reflect whether any human being, doing his job, regardless of how highly he is paid, deserves such abuse.
If we continue to treat our public servants and Ministers like that, no pay will entice capable people from stepping forward to serve.
In such a scenario, Singapore will only get second-rate people to lead us, people who will gladly suffer abuse because they have no better option. The best people however do. And if we get second-rate leaders because of this, Singapore deserves it.
In the meantime, from the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you to Mr. Lui for doing a thankless job. I am certain that in whatever profession he chooses after this, he will be a much happier man.