Sunday, May 19, 2013

Alnernative systems to set the benchmark

In the early eighties, the Government was debating on whether to build the MRT station. The Minister for Communications, Mr. Ong Teng Cheong, was in favor of MRT. Dr. Goh Keng Swee,  Deputy Prime Minister, was in favor an all-bus alternative. The Government commissioned a team of transport experts from America who advised that an all-bus system was feasible. The Cabinet finally decided in favor of the MRT system.

Most Singaporeans would agree that the MRT system was a better approach, as it was able to carry large number of people quickly, and was not affected by road congestion. Our MRT system was considered to be a "world class transport system" for several years.

Many people did not realize the valuable contribution of Dr. Goh in this debate. By arguing in favor of the all-bus system, he presented an alternative proposal, which was more economical and quicker to implement. This alternative presented a benchmark to compare the cost of the MRT system .

For example, if the all-bus alternative was, say $1.5 billion, the MRT system can be more expensive, but cannot be "too far off". This allowed the cost of the MRT system to be kept under proper financial control. I suspect that this was the key reason who the initial system was kept at a modest cost of $2 billion dollars for the North South and the East West lines. (Note: I am recalling some of these figures from memory, and may not be accurate).

By contrast, the Thomson MRT line was estimated to be $18 billion, and the Marina Costal Highway was $4.3 billion. These sums are staggering.

We now know that people like Dr. Goh Keng Swee played an important role to ensure that the government spending was "value for money". We dearly missed people like him; people who are visionary and courageous, and are willing to argue for alternatives!

Dr. Goh left the cabinet in 1985. Since then, we have seen a gradual deterioration in the quality of leadership in our government and civil service.


Xianlong said...

Decay is imminent when present govt leaders use/throw $$$ to solve problems.

When travel journals report SIA & Changi as best, they become lax having drown in acolades & profits.

Today we see SIA losing to gulf carriers & changi under threat as regional hub.

PAP needs to be voted out since it is infested with Yes-men. $15,000 salary/mth to Yes Yes Yes.

The passionate/best people in what they do aren't primarily motivated by $$$.

yujuan said...

The rot started with the Goh Chok Tong Administration, then accererates with PM LHL taking over from 2006.
Throwing obscene money at CEOs who who have no talent to compete on the international stage like SIA, make them complacent, incompetent to tackle taking risks, thus losing huge chunks of money in botched investments like New Zealand Air, Virgin Atlantic, making this so called National Airline easy prey for real entrepreneurs like Branson, Virgin Airline boss.
And to rub salt into the wound, this year's profits are made by selling planes and parts, not from selling seats. Let's see for how long SIA could continue to hide behind the sexy sarong kebaya to maintain the airline's business.
With Branson laughing at SIA's stupidity, the slow witted and incompetent CEO should be sacked.
The same story with NOL, trying to fool us with selling their headquarters property to cover up the red ink on its Balance Sheet.
We would give these CEOs more respect if they come out to admit out front, they dun know how to compete on the International Stage.
Dun see how a locally cloistered ex Army man could take on cut throat shipping competition abroad.

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