Before I start my speech, I would like to say I believe protests are useless. The PAP have and will never listen to Singaporeans. The fare hike for this year will continue, and so will the fare hike for next year. We people will still pay, no matter how many people protest in this little speaker’s corner. But, that does not mean we do not resist and simply bend over. In Singapore, justice and freedom have been taken for granted. Most people here do not fight for their own rights, they are selfish and ignorant. Even though they serve National Service, they are not patriotic. They see themselves as loyal subjects of a monarchy and they do not appreciate democracy. This is the main reason why I am leaving Singapore, I am not proud to be a Singaporean either.
Ok so why the fare hike?
Firstly, we look at the nature SMRT and SBS . Like any publicly listed companies, their duty is to maximize the revenue and lower the cost so they can have a good margin to pay dividends to their shareholders. However, unlike any company in the private sector, SMRT and SBS are not competitors. They have a monopoly over the public transport. Unlike the private sector, you do not see different buses and trains running the same route and providing the same services. Transport fares are determined and endorsed by the PAP government. This is not right. When privatized, SMRT and SBS should no longer get to enjoy the benefits of nationalization. However the lame excuse by the PAP government for the fare hike is that the two companies are facing financial constraints. This is utter bullshit. Anyone can just go to their respective website and download their annual reports. You will see that the two companies have been consistently making tens of millions of net profits every single year, recession or not. Just last year alone, SMRT made $80 million in net profit while SBS made $18 million in net profit. According to the Public Transport Council, this coming fare hike will further increase SMRT’s revenue by another $17.5 million and SBS’s profit by $36 million. Truth being told, there is no financial justification for this fare hike. The two companies are anywhere but bankrupt. The fare hike do not address the disparity between profit and fare price. Of course by now you should know who the fare hike is actually serving. Shareholders. And yes we are talking about the Singapore sovereign wealth fund company Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd here. The company who borrows cheaply from our CPF money at a very low interest rate to make huge profits in the private sector…
So coming back to the fare hike.
3 years ago in 2011, the PAP claimed that nationalization of public transport will result in inefficiency and higher costs [Source]. These were the exact words Lui Tuck Yew said:
“the profit incentive of commercial enterprises is a more viable option as it promotes efficiency and productivity improvements.”
Fast forward 3 years today, what do we see? Severe inconvenience from overcrowding and increase in train breakdowns. People are walking on the tracks to get to their destination, is this Singapore or India? Besides, why should we care the breakdown is due to a power fault caused by a little girl or downsizing of track maintenance budget? Breakdowns is unacceptable when you keep raising fares. In fact, train breakdowns are becoming so common that we no longer create special committees of inquiry to investigate the cause. And then we have overcrowding, it is so fucking crowded already and yet the PAP government have the cheek to suggest a fucking 6.9 million population.
Just barely a year ago, a $1.1 billion bus improvement package was given out to SBS and SMRT. This package means more buses and better services, paid for by Singaporeans, enjoyed by both Singaporeans and Foreigners. The $1.1 billion had many Singaporeans scratching their heads: why didn’t it stop the fare hike? Of course the truth is you can never satisfy greed, but the official reason is that the two companies are in ailing financial conditions and the PAP government need to bail them out, using our money again of course. When SBS and SMRT complain they do not earn enough, the PAP government commit them with $1.1 billion, but who gives me a single cents when I complain I don’t earn enough? The PAP government claimed it is important the two companies survive, so that is why they are allowed to make a “living profit”, but when Singaporeans are unemployed and poor, who gives them a “living wage”?
The PAP government tells Singaporeans to follow a progressive wage model if they want a pay raise, but where is the similar progressive payment model for SBS and SMRT who still get paid for screwing up? This is double standards. When screw ups like these happens, the CEO should either stop drawing a salary or resign. By the way, why did SMRT choose someone who has no knowledge about train operations to be the CEO? Desmond Kwek was a paper general in the SAF so what makes him qualify as a CEO of the listed train company when there are so many train operations managers who have been working in SMRT for over ten years? Did Desmond Kuek learn how to manage a train company in the SAF? So now we have Desmond Kuek as CEO for over more than a year now, why are there still so many breakdowns? It has been proven Desmond Kuek is incompetent for the job. He should resign.
Do you know the average salary of the 27 senior management members and directors draw $300,000 a year, costing at total of $8.45 million? If we nationalized SMRT, these senior management and directors are just civil servants, do you think each of them can command $300,000 a year? Is this cost saving or corporate greed? And they have the cheek to call for a fare raise while they draw 8 millions a year?
By the way, the official figure of the fare hike may be 3.2%, but it will cost at least $15 more every month or about 10% for a monthly $150 transport budget. Singapore is already the most expensive country in the world and yet we are not anywhere near being the most well-paid. Singaporeans are already having problems with buying a house, retiring and competing for jobs with the influx of foreigners. $15 a month might seems a little to some but it could actually feed someone with heavy financial commitments for a day.
The fare hike process starts with an application by SBS and SMRT, which then go through a committee appointed by the PAP government also known as the Public Transport Council. However, each and every single time SBS or SMRT applies for a fare hike, the PTC approves. So why is the white elephant sitting in the room? If the purpose of PTC is to pretend that Singapore has a system of policy making, could I ask what happened to the “new” formula introduced by the Fare Review Mechanism Committee. In 2012, the PAP government created the Fare Review Mechanism Committee to adjust a formula so as to better reflect the ticket costs:
Fare Adjustment = Price Index – Productivity Extraction
where Price Index = 0.4 cCPI + 0.4 WI + 0.2 EI
• cCPI is the change in core Consumer Price Index.
• WI is the change in Wage Index. This refers to the
Average Monthly Earnings (Annual National Average),
adjusted to account for any changes in the employer’s
• EI is the change in Energy Index. This refers to a
composite of cost changes in electricity and diesel.
and Productivity Extraction = 0.5% (valid from 2013 to 2017)
The new formula introduced in 2012 factors in 3 components: the core Consumer Price Index, Wage Index and Energy Index. Why is this new 3.4% fare hike not following that 2012 formula? So when the formula do not work your way, you throw it out of the window? And the Public Transport Council’s chairman Gerrad Ee’s justification for the fare hike? He said that Singaporeans will “likely” enjoy a 5 percent income growth. Likely? You derived a decision based on uncertain terms? If our wages is not going to be 5 percent or perhaps go even lower than 3.4% this year, will you adjust your fare hike accordingly? No? So why start the bullshit about income growth?
Abolish the Public Transport Council immediately and stop wasting our taxes on this useless stat board. And for the 2 Transport Ministers, Lui Tuck Yew and Josephine Teo, why are they thanking the PTC profusely for the fare hike? Is it because they think they can push the blame of an unpopular fare hike to the PTC? The two of them should grow some shame and resign.
It is bad enough knowing that SBS and SMRT are only interested in making money out of the public, it is worse to know that the PAP government allows this to happen in the name of sustainability. If we want the public transport operators to be sustainable, then nationalize them. At least for us Singaporeans, we will know every single cents of their profit will be going into the National Reserves instead of shareholders. The PAP failed in its duty to protect Singaporeans’ interests when they turned a blind eye to such mindless profiteering. They changed the CEO, they have done investigations, they even tried pumping them money but the result is still the same. This is what we called incompetence and mismanagement. The problem is never resolved and it keeps recurring so often that all you do now is to give sorry excuses.
So now that the fare hike has been announced, their propaganda machinery is now in full force. We can read how positive and well-received the fare hike is on the mainstream media. They claimed they they are helping the low income, senior citizens and poly students by giving more concessions. But beware when they say they want to “help the poor”. The last time Lee Hsien Loong said he wanted to help the poor, he raised the GST to 7% and in the end the middle class and poor become worse off. This fare hike will similarly going to hit the very people they claimed to help. This fare hike is going to increase the cost of living and worsen our already dropping standard of living.
Sincerely from the bottom of my heart: Fuck your fare hike