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We Will Raise Fare, Among Other Things August 2, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.

Ned remembers that some time ago, everyone was in an uproar over the increase in Public Transport. If memory serves the aforesaid incident occured in 2001/2002; the ST forum was filled with letters criticising a move which resulted in one of the transport companies writing a rather long and rambling letter in the ST to justify the move, though the letter was verbose and did not seem to have anything useful to say.

Now it appears that the public transport companies are doing it again, namely some of them have already applied to PTC to increase their fares. This rather informative post by TOC actually maps the timeline of such increases. The information speaks for itself. Suffice to say the prices have been steadily increasing and the profits of the companies too have been steadily increasing.

To set the record straight, it will be unreasonable to expect these public transport companies not to have a profit maximising motive. Notwithstanding the misleading term public transport companies, these companies are pretty much private companies who will want to maximise profit. And that is where the Public Transport Committee comes in, to ensure these big corporations do not abuse their position in the market to the detriment of society. But that aside Ned feels it is fair for public transport companies to raise fees, IF there is a corresponding raise in levels of standards. Unfortunately based on personal experience and anecdotal evidence, besides the change in seats and the addition of Mobile TV, there has been little substantive increase. Specifically, waiting times seem to be as long as ever, and at times you get three of the same number arriving at the same time. Not to mention the usual gripes about nasty drivers and all. Thus a cynical person might conclude that its the profit motive at work again. And to go further one could say that this increase is fait accompli. See the last sentence of this article, once again courtesy of TOC.

That said, Ned will now talk about stuff unrelated to fare hikes. Recently Mr Alex Au’s application for his photo exhibition was turned down and in such a rude fashion. And not too long ago Said Zahari’s film was banned in Singapore. So despite all that talk about becoming more open it appears that the authorities are as frightened of controversy as ever. So imagine my surprise at this CNA article, entitled “Controversy and Art go hand in hand“.

But if Controversy and Art go hand in hand, then why ban political films of those who did not stand under the lightning bolt? Why ban works of art involving a Nude Statue? Of course a closer reading of the article would reveal Dr Lee Boon Yang’s definition of controversy:

Dr Lee said this when he was asked to comment about the incident whereby a video by Singaporean artist Lynn Lu was removed from the Art Show because it was deemed to be too similar to a piece created by an American artist, Jason Mortara…

He said: “I can’t imagine an arts event of the scale of the Singapore Art Show going off without any controversy. In fact, I’ll be very, very surprised.”

A literal reading of the article’s title gave me the impression that controversial art pieces are part and parcel of art. But apparently in Singapore’s context controversy merely refers to technical problems with regards to the running of an arts exhibition. If that is the authorities view then I must say that the dream of Singapore as an Arts hub will remain a dream, notwithstanding the last few sentences of the article.



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