20151223 Khaw Boon Wan emphasises the obvious, HDB achieves record zero defects in new projects

New Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan has taken the art of TKSS, better known as talk-khawk-sing-song, to a higher level when he warned there would be teething issues for Downtown Line 2 after it starts operation this Sunday.

Perhaps 70% of Singaporeans might still have not understood what Khaw had meant, so allow me to sum up.

1 – “Teething problems might surface when … begin running this Sunday, but action would be carried out to minimise them..”.
In short – massive disruptions are to be expected but not to worry, our guys will be working.

2 – “LTA and SBST engineers have spent many months preparing and testing the entire system, from the operations control centre to the trains and tunnels. This includes a very large number of tests on the integration between DTL1 and DTL2. By the time of the opening, they would have chalked up thousands of tests.”
In short – we have done everything possible to ensure the system won’t break down. If it does, blame the weather or something else but not us.

3 – “..there were two disruptions in January and March 2014 after Downtown Line 1 opened in December 2013. One involved a train’s emergency brake and the other, a power trip. While they can perform all forms of testing in a simulated environment, they cannot fully replicate how the system will actually perform in a live environment involving thousands of commuters”.
In short – expect the expected disruptions.

4 – “We must also anticipate the worst, and have drawer plans for contingencies in the event that disruptions do occur. We want to be proud parents, not stressed-out ones”.
In short – hmm… this one not very clear because worst can mean many things like train track misaligned or maybe tunnel collapse? Suddenly talk about parenting, catch no ball leh.

5 – “We subsequently became better at managing her younger sisters’ teething. All these happened decades ago”.
In short – been through lots of teething problems at different stages of MRT’s history and should be better at managing teething problems. Subtle self praise.

Wow! This minister has the cheek to tell us the obvious and attempt to temper our high expectations from the highest-paid civil servants in the galaxy. Hmm… I wonder if this is the true meaning of ‘jiak-liao-bee’.

Why didn’t PAP inform Singaporeans 2 decades ago that there would be teething problems with its immigration policy, ie forcing citizens to integrate with a disproportionately large number of foreigners within a relatively short time? Maybe we could have been better prepared and welcome foreigners with open arms, increase our population target to 9.6 million instead of 6.9 million.

Will PAP be using this new ‘teething issues’ template for the construction of new roads, hospitals, schools, etc to better prepare citizens to expect cock-ups so that in the event that they happen, PAP can smugly say ‘don’t say we never say hor’.

If Khaw had taught HDB how to “chut pattern” (teething issues) as eloquently as Sim Ann, HDB wouldn’t have received so much flak for BTOs with up to over 100 defects.

HDB has a serious issue with accountability – it completely washes its hands off every project after buyers have paid up. Pasir Ris One and other Design and Build flats speak volumes of HDB’s irresponsible attitude.

Anyway, HDB has no incentive to improve anytime soon. None of our policymakers, ministers and MPs live in public housing so why should they be bothered? Just pay lip service in the state-controlled media to give the impression that feedback has been taken seriously and the problem will be resolved, ie people stop talking about it after a while.

HDB is not taking flat buyers’ feedback seriously by downplaying defects (hairline cracks, scratches, uneven joints) and redefining them as “surface imperfections”. Hopefully, other stat boards do not have as many cases of “surface imperfections” as HDB. Or perhaps LTA (MRT) does?

Would contractors renovating Parliament House, Changi Airport or Istana dare term defects as “surface imperfections”? Really, HDB should not bully ordinary Singaporeans who have no choice but to live in public housing.

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