Saturday, February 03, 2018

Urgent solutions needed to rental bike problems

Dear Friends,
Straits Times Forum printed an edited version of this letter. Click here.
Dear Editor,
In urban planning “last mile” refers to the difficult problem of getting commuters from a transportation hub eg MRT station to their final destination eg home. “First mile” would be from starting location to the hub.
The Last Mile Connectivity is the “Holy Grail” that town planners, including  ours, aspire towards.
Bike sharing schemes fronted by 5 companies  namely GBikes, Mobike, oBike, ofo and  SG Bike,  - which have more than 30,000 bikes between them, could be a positive disruptive influence  by improving public transport accessibility leading to a more “car-lite” Singapore.
However, complaints are heard more than accolades.Why?
These complaints include how our  reputation of our “city within a garden”  has been tarnished by these haphazardly parked bikes found in even odd places eg road dividers or in flower beds.
Bikes also pose dangers by blocking walkways and emergency exits .
Andrew Delios from NUS Business School had alluded to  economic concepts of “negative externalities”  and “free-riding”. ( Bike-sharing: Time to crack down on free-riding? Straits Times 18 Oct 2017)
“Negative externalities” are hidden costs not borne by company owners but passed to others, namely Singapore tax payers, who not only bears with the eyesore where previously was pristine environment, he  now has to skirt around or move aside fallen bikes. It could be said that our red passport is diminishing in value.
“Free riding” concept is when rich owners ( eg Ofo‘s young billionaire CEO Dai Wei ) are taking advantage of a public good (eg parking space) without paying for it. Some countries insist docking stations be built at costs of millions.
I propose the following:
  1. Users who do not park at geo-fenced areas lose their deposits. Losing credits ( Mobike) is not deterrent enough.“No deposit” (Ofo) promotion not be allowed.
     2.“ Free first 15 minute” promotions (Mobike) not be allowed.  Bikes marooned on road dividers could be by riders who had run out of “free” time.
      3. Total number of bikes from each company be limited in each region and rebalancing of bikes assiduously done when they “bunch” in places.
4. Enough  geo-fenced lots  eg HDB void decks , outside condos and around private estates apart from transport hubs. Bike companies bear full cost of works.
Singapore is already very accessible and to walk few hundred metres is actually healthy.
To expect full door to hub connectivity is a tad too much.
Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Non-constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) scheme: Changes needed

Dear Friends,
Now that the dust has started to settle after the dramatic GE2015, I have some thoughts on how the Non-constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) scheme can be improved to better reflect the aspirations of the electorate.
Click link here.

I do not think many will disagree that there is still a desire by the electorate for diversity of views in the parliament notwithstanding the convincing win by the ruling PAP.

To help ingrain the NCMP scheme so that it is not just perceived as a token to satisfy the wish of a segment of the electorate who clamour for multi-party democracy (ie to add legitimacy), I propose the following:
  1. NCMP’s should be allowed to vote on all matters including the following which they are presently denied :
Amendments to the Constitution.
Any motion pertaining to a bill to amend a supply bill, supplementary supply bill or final supply bill.
Any motion pertaining to a Bill to amend a money bill.

However in my opinion,the present last two exceptions of voting on motions of no confidence in the Government and removal of the President from office should still remain.

      2. As NCMP’s will now have full legislative duties and only differ from other MP’s by not having a community role (they do not have constituents to look after), their remuneration should be raised from the present 15% of a MP’s allowance ( which is rather derisory)  to at least 50%. (Note: Present annual allowances of NCMP  & MP are $28,900 and $192,500 respectively). They should have similar perks including funds to employ legislative assistants etc.  

       3. NCMP scheme might also be expanded to include not just opposition party MP’s but also ruling party MP’s. For example if up 18 seats are allocated for opposition party MP’s and NCMP’s (present parliament has 9 allocated seats) and opposition MP’s only won 12 seats outright by “First Past the Post” method, the next 6 highest candidates ( from any party) will be allocated NCMP seats. The house will benefit from the contributions of good quality NCMP’s from either side of the political aisle.

        4. Office-bearers should be allowed to be selected from NCMP’s hence giving more choice for the government of the day.
        5. All NCMP positions must be filled and not left vacant as the present scheme already ensures a minimum standard in that the present NCMP-elects must have garnered at least 15% of the total number of votes

With these improvements, Singaporeans will benefit from the contributions of NCMP’s in the current term of parliament and furthermore , the electorate can decide if they also want these NCMP’s to play a community role as their MP’s come the next General Election

Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan

Sunday, September 06, 2015

AHPETC: TC statistics show WP can run TC's #ge2015 #sgpolitics

Hi Friends,
LTK playing "victim" again?

Straits Times Editor-at-large Han Fook Kwong likens this weekend as Half-time in GE2015 football match and that at 0-0, 

“ It is unlikely any party can come up with a brilliant move that will change the course of the GE….  it may be more important not to score an own goal by making a mistake or a misstep..”

To most of us, what is infinitely worse than losing by an own goal is when the match is won by a dubious goal eg Maradona’s Hand of God

Other non-football analogy is winning election by dirty tricks eg Taiwan 2004 when Taiwan’s DPP incumbent Presidential candidate Chen Shui Bian won by sympathy votes after a widely believed to be a staged assassination attempt (3-19 incident ).

Let me state here and now that I believe all our past elections were clean and won/lost fairly and squarely.
Going back to football analogy, in Singapore it is widely acknowledged that the MSM had played a role ( many believed unfairly) in the past. But this could be changing ( see my previous post)

However another force is counter-balancing MSM and that is new media (bloggers, blog aggregators) and to this end I like to refer to one blog post that could essentially be the deciding goal (game changer?) for the WP-PAP faceoff in the East. 

The above is an excellent article which collated the Income Statements from all the Town Councils for the Financial Years 2012/2013 & 2013/2014 to compare 4 vital aspects of TC management and how AHPETC ( Aljunied Hougang Punggol East Town Council) compares with the other PAP-controlled town councils.

1) Conservancy & Service Fees
In 2013, AHPETC was the second "cheapest" town and it was ranked 11th most expensive (out of 15 Town Councils) in 2014.

2) Total Operating Expenditure
In 2013, AHPETC was the second most penny pinching town and it was ranked 10th in spending per electorate in 2014.

3) Government Grants
The Town Council which received the most "government support" in 2013 was Ang Moh Kio TC which comprises of Ang Moh Kio GRC and Seng Kang West SMC, while AHPETC placed last.

In 2014, The top place went to Tanjong Pagar TC which comprises of Tanjong Pagar GRC and Radin Mas SMC. AHPETC was placed 13th.In this sense, AHPETC has received less support from the government per electorate than most Town Councils.

4) Operating Deficit
In 2013, AHPETC was placed 10th. It incurred less deficit than 5 other TCs and is among the top 67th percentile in terms of deficit management. However, in 2014, AHPETC was placed last. There was a $9 increase deficit per voter from 2013 to 2014.

The author Lam said:
“ In conclusion, AHPETC experienced marked increase in operating expenditure in 2014. However, AHPETC performs above the average Town Council in terms of tax burden and operating expenditure per electorate. Furthermore, AHPETC is among the bottom 20% or the lowest in terms of support from the Government through Government Grants.”

In a nutshell, to family member “A” and many like her who were very perturbed by what they heard from the PAP leaders that WP cannot be trusted as their TC management was in shambles, this article will help to clear this doubt out of the way and they can assess the parties on other criteria.

What about the latest accusations about the presence of surpluses or deficits of Hougang & Punggol East respectively when the 2 SMC’s were merged into Aljunied TC, I believe the WP could have been mistaken about Punggol East and they were premature to accuse PAP of “creative attitude towards the truth”  ( quoting Kenneth Jeyaratnam (KJ) referring to Han Hui Hui (H3)  and hence owes PAP either a retraction, apology or some explanation. See PAP rebuttal here 

On the other hand, PAP also owes WP a retraction about Hougang’s deficit. See here  So no win no lose.

So like the time in the playground 50 years ago when I quarreled with a kampong friend, let’s leave it at : 

"No, You say sorry first! Howzat?"

Remember, we are all Singaporeans and we try so hard to win because we love Singapore!

Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan