20140409 PAP’s upside down planning and our overrated civil service

Most Singaporeans would agree that the PAP fared relatively well prior to 1990. But since the 90’s, after pegging political salaries to private-sector benchmarks, the lives of Singaporeans have been worsening by the day.

The reason for this is clear – the PAP has all the while employed a shortcut to economic growth ie a population-driven expansion, creating more jobs for foreigners than Singaporeans. The PAP favoured foreigners because they generate more economic activity ie. housing, retail, travel, entertainment, etc.

Planning in Singapore resemble playing SIM City where there is no distinction between virtual and real. We should be renamed Simgapore.

How do Simgapore planners plan?

– Ignore housing needs until the masses KPKB and then when political power is threatened, just ramp it up by 204,416 in 5 years. What about shortage of crane operators, contractors, skilled workers, etc? Eh.. not to worry – in future we can also ramp up whatever is in serious shortage.

– Increase public transportation infrastructures as slowly as possible to reflect an unrealistic low cost for our ‘success’. Then when citizens KPKB that the number of buses had been grossly underestimated, ramp-up their numbers by 35% and also in 5 years. Where to get qualified drivers? There are millions of them from less developed countries and at a fraction of our pampered, mediocre, expensive and timid local drivers.

– Ignore our birth statistics and pretend very few babies were born so as to save on investments in childcare facilities. Commence building only when the demand exceeds supply by a huge margin so as to justify the high cost of a child’s education. Again, when people KPKB, just ramp up construction.

We are a just a little red dot, less than half the size of the state of Johor Bahru, but yet the government has perennially screwed up. What has been lacking is planning, not funding.

The above examples confirm the PAP engages in a sort of upside down planning (UDP); first it ignores the repercussions and implements policies because it knows there will be little accountability, creates a problem and then attempts to resolve them after feedback (outrage).

To put it in clearer perspective, the PAP waited till the population has exploded before ramping up housing construction. It started to increase bus capacity after commuters send a strong message that we have reached a buay-tahan level. Where childcare facility is concerned, it waited until a few years after babies had been born.

A unique feature of UDP is the failure to recognise the inelasticity of supply, recklessly assuming everything will fall into place as if there was some magic source from heaven.

For housing, just look at the increasing number of complaints of shoddy workmanship, probably due to half past six contractors and unskilled cheap labour. Today As for the shortage of crane operators, the government continues to focus on Lim Swee Say’s “cheaper” which has never been better or faster and recruited thousands of foreign workers. This has resulted in a previously unheard of string of crane accidents. (Hmm…Double S ‘Cheaper, Better, Faster’ seems to have been copied from NASA’s ‘Faster, Better, Cheaper’)

The PAP seems to think it could easily replace more knowledgeable and qualified local bus drivers with third world imports, many who lack basic communication skills. Now we have drivers and others who gave passengers additional ‘free’ 2-hour ride.

The PAP somehow underestimated childcare demand by more than 10,000 places. 60 childcare facilities had to be built last year and at least 45 will be built this year, providing 6000 and 4500 much needed places respectively. Problem is the supply of qualified childcare teachers is inelastic and in short supply.

UDP is not confined to housing, transportation and childcare. That “the ratio of police of Singapore residents is two to three times lower than that of other cities” again confirms UDP. Mothership NSF policemen should not be included as these unmotivated personnel are simply there to complete their NS liability. They’re part of a numbers game.

There is also the Taffic Police which will increase its road patrols by 50 per cent, boosting its officers on patrol to 210 from 140, by the end of this year.

UDP is not confined to the above. Isn’t there an obvious shortage of manpower at our statutory boards such as NParks, NEA, LTA, etc ?

Civil servants have never engaged citizens; engagement is obviously just wayang because the implementation of policies are a given. The government should not have wasted everybody’s time when it had already decided to build 2 casinos at one go. Obviously all the issues created by gambling have come home to roost. Another example of UDP.

Politicians hardly hold the civil service accountable.  The government controlled press then praises the civil service for its efficiency and projects this image to the world.

But ordinary Singaporeans who feel the brunt of government policies are able to distinguish fact from fiction and are aware that our civil service has been overrated.

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1 Response to 20140409 PAP’s upside down planning and our overrated civil service

  1. Pingback: Daily SG: 11 Apr 2014 | The Singapore Daily

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