Monday, March 12, 2018

Terminal 5 and Downtown Line - signs of poor leadership?

I was depressed by two news items this morning. It reminded me of how bad the situation is and how much Singapore has regressed under the leadership of Lee HL.

The first new item is the "relief package" that is being put together to help airlines using Changi Airport. It followed the recent announcements that passengers will soon have to pay higher charges to fund the building of Terminal 5.

The reaction from the airlines and from IATA (Internatial Air Transport Association) must have been severe to cause this kind of panic reaction.

This raised many unanswered questions:

a) a) Why do we need to build Terminal 5 which is bigger than T1, T2 and T3 combined? Is it intended to replace these terminals?
b) Should we have build a smaller terminal to complement the existing terminals?
c) How much does Terminal 5 cost?
d) Can it be funded from the reserves - can we ask the Elected President to approve it?

It is certainly a bad idea to fund it by increasing the charges on passengers. Many of them will avoid Singapore - this is my judgement. Why are we taking this risk, when we already faced many issues about competitiveness internationally?

The second news item is about the ridership on the Downtown Line belong lower than expected. When we build the new MRT lines, the budget was horrendous.

The cost of the Downtown Line was reported to be $20.7 billion in 2012. I have not seen any updated figure. I expect that it would be higher. I remembered the Thomson Line cost $18 billion. That is probably more than Terminal 5 (estimated to cost more than $10 billion).

If there is lower ridership on the Downtown Line, we can expect the situation to be worse when the Thomson Line is ready. What about the other new lines that are being planned? Will they cost a lot of money and are they really necessary?

I have been very concerned about the way that large infrastructure projects are being approved, apparently without proper analysis of the need and the cost benefit analysis. Surely, the financial studies should be publicised to the public at large? They come from our taxes, right?

I have a nagging fear. Large infrastructure projects and purchases of military hardware are the source of massive corruption and bribery in many countries. Do we have a robust system to prevent this kind of corruption and bribery in Singapore? I wonder.

Some people will say that the large infrastructure projects are being planned for 6.7 million population or maybe the 10 million population. That would make Singapore too crowded, right?

Tan Kin Lian

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