Recently, much has been said about the illegal strike by the drivers from China and there have been quite a lot of “internet bashings” among netizens as well. More recently, the Transport Minister said that next year’s public transport fare adjustments will take into account the need to raise bus drivers’ wages. Really, is this necessary or are they just using the strike as an excuse?
Already, we are trying very hard to make ends meets, and with the ever-increasing costs of basic necessities, why hasn’t our income raised by a fair bit? My mum tells me that the income we receive today is somewhat similar to the income she received 20 years ago! So, what exactly in the world is going on?

For a start, I do agree with the fact that not many Singaporeans want to work in the service industry. As a result, many foreign workers have been hired to fill the gap and trust me, they work really long hours but are paid very little as well. In fact, in order to earn more in the service industry, workers will have to work more overtime hours and sacrifice the time that they could have spent with their loved ones and friends, causing a work-life imbalance and disharmony.

Seeing that this is the case, shouldn’t it be time that there is a review on the wages of those working in the service industry? Shouldn’t those whom are working in the service line be paid more? Of course they should, but where is the money going to come from?! From the consumers or from the corporation?!

Let me give an analogy here. If I were to start an ice-cream business selling ice-creams and the demand for ice-creams is low, I would have to sell the ice-creams for a cheaper price so that consumers will be attracted to buy them right? Now, if the demand for ice-creams is high and because I have a limited supply of ice-creams, I will sell my ice-creams at a higher price so as to reap more profits. However, seeing that the ice-cream business is a good source of income, my friend started his own ice-cream business too. Now, there are more supplies of ice-cream and in order to remain competitive, I will have to sell my ice-cream for a more acceptable and competitive pricing.

Now, what if I want to hire workers to work for me and sell my ice-creams? Do I raise the price and provide more services to the consumer or do I keep costs low? The main product that the consumer wants is ice-cream and for some of them, they wouldn’t mind paying a higher price if there are more services in return.

In this case, consumers are given the freedom and choice to choose whose ice-cream they would want to buy and at what price they want to buy.

Now, let’s bring this analogy back to the main issue using SBS and SMRT as the main context. Even though SBS and SMRT have been privatised, there are absolutely no other bus or train companies that directly compete with them. Hence, both SBS and SMRT form a duopoly and have the freedom to set the price for public transport services. Moreover, there are barriers to prevent potential business owners from setting up another bus/train company to directly compete with SBS and SMRT. How do I know that there are barriers? It’s pretty simple. Since transportation is an essential service that is always high in demand, why are there only two main transport service providers? I think this is pretty clear cut.

Since we know that SBS and SMRT are privatised and that there are barriers to prevent potential business owners from setting up another bus/train company to directly compete with SBS and SMRT, the question now is, “Is this fair?”. We Singaporeans always say that SBS and SMRT are forms of public transport, not private transport. So, if it is public transport, shouldn’t the prices be kept within the reach of an average Singaporean? If is is public transport, shouldn’t SBS and SMRT be under the government’s direct control and not be privatised? If there is a significant mismatch between costs and the prices at which SBS and SMRT are offering for public transportation, then may I ask, is this because the wages include not just the bus drivers, but also the management and key executives of SBS and SMRT?

Just take a look at how much the management and key executives of SBS and SMRT earn! These information are extracted from SBS’s and SMRT’s 2011 annual report that are available on their respective website.

SBS Directors’ Remuneration

From Drop Box

SBS Key Executives’ Remuneration

From Drop Box

SMRT Directors’ Remuneration

From Drop Box

SMRT Key Executives’ Remuneration

From Drop Box

So, is the Transportation Minister implying that we ought to pay more so that the management and key executives of SBS and SMRT can maintain their current lifestyle and also at the same time increase the bus drivers’ wages? Come on, if SBS and SMRT had kept their costs low by not paying the management and key executives of SBS and SMRT so much, then there wouldn’t be any need for an increase in public transportation fare. And by the way, why are they paid so much? Can someone please justify what is it that they do in their daily jobs to earn so much? Yes, I know SBS and SMRT are privatised companies, but they are essentially providing public transportation services, not private transportation services. See the irony?

I really do hope that Singaporeans will rally together and make our voices heard. Public transportation should be made affordable and within reach of any average Singaporean. Public transportation companies should be public and not privatised. Private transportation companies should be privatised because they are providing private transport services, not public transport services. If SBS and SMRT have been earning profits for the last 5 years and yet still be able to afford to pay the directors and executives with such a huge remuneration package, they should then allocate resources to cater to the increase of the bus drivers’ wages; not increase fares.

Hello Everyone,
I honestly feel that its time SMRT really look into the matters of the frequent train breakdowns; especially when two major breakdowns occur just over two days. To make things worst, the breakdowns occur during extremely peak periods [one in the morning rush hour, and the other one in the evening rush hour]. This I feel is totally unacceptable especially when SMRT has time and time again proclaimed that our train system is world-class.

Some major highlights which I feel are a cause for concern are:

1). Security breaches at the SMRT depots [remember the two vandalism cases?]. SMRT got away with only a fine! What if some terrorist managed to slip a bomb package into the train cabins? Who should be held accountable? Who will be responsible? To think that we have been drilled to be vigilant at all times but what about SMRT?

2). When SMRT wants to fine us for eating/drinking in the train, they do so readily without exercising proper judgement. Yes, I agree that eating/drinking should be prohibited on the train, but seriously, they should have some consideration for those who are feeling unwell. Take for example, if someone is going to throw up because he/she feels really giddy and nauseous, then I think its more acceptable for them to eat some sweets on the train  than to throw up in the train. If one is thirsty, plain water should also be allowed for consumption.

3). The way SMRT handles the breakdown is totally unacceptable. This is where I am really utterly upset. There isn’t any genuine care and concern displayed for commuters here. Lack of professionalism I must say!

Look at the following photo. This was an announcement by SMRT to the SMRT Cabbies during the breakdown and the heading of the announcement is Income Opportunity~! I mean, wow, look at that; since when have we become so profit-minded that we neglect the plight of fellow commuters whom were stranded in the stations and trains? Seriously, this is utterly disgusting~! If I could drive [which of course I am not able to do so because of my injury], I would have called my parents/girlfriend/friends and asked them if any of them needed a lift. Yes, the city may be jammed-pack with traffic but who cares, I rather pay the ERP to get those stranded a lift than for them to take a cab which is so freaking expensive~!


This notice was put up at Braddell MRT at 7:30PM and it stated clearly that train service was to resume in an hour time. But you know what, it is only at 8.56PM when SMRT said that North-Bound train service between Marina Bay and Bishan stations will be closed and will not be up for the night. The time difference for them to provide proper updates is more than 1 hour! Do you know how much people can do in an hour?


Yes, what you are seeing in the photos below are true accounts. Lights on the train were partially off and there was no air-conditioning nor ventilation. With the train cabins being packed like sardines, you can imagine the heat build-up and the lack of oxygen. A lady was reported to have fainted on the train and as a result, a passenger used the fire extinguisher to smash the window so as to allow air to come in. The intercom button was also pressed to alert the train driver of a medical condition but there was no reply. In such a condition, who is responsible for the lady’s medical expenses? Why did the train driver not reply through the intercom? Do they know that the passengers stranded haven’t had their dinner? Do they know that some of the passengers could very well be rushing off to see a dying loved one? Do they know that some passengers could very well be meeting a client for the signing of a million dollar contract? Who will be responsible for the lost time/opportunity cost of the passenger’s time?



Alright, I know I am being extreme here but seriously, the way SMRT handled the breakdown was a very big let-down because even though shuttle bus services were activated, it was of no apparent use as they were all crammed with passengers and there weren’t sufficient shuttle buses. Even if one is able to get a refund for the trip made, seriously, is a refund sufficient for the loss of time? I daresay a refund cost less than $3 per passenger. But how many professionals and executives were stranded? Time is precious and perhaps maybe for them, an hour of their time could be worth $50 or even more~!

I always believe in this, that everything rises and falls on leadership. And that being said, we should point our fingers on the management of SMRT and let them address the issues regarding the breakdown themselves~! Just for your information, I have ploughed through 3 annual reports of SMRT and here are some interesting facts that many of you may not be aware about.

The CEO of SMRT earned an astounding amount of  $1,310,298 in 2008,  $1,560,344 in 2009, and  $1,668,747 in 2010. That’s an increase of $358449 over a period of 3 years which is an average of $119483 a year!

The Revenue of SMRT was 436.9 million dollars in 2008, 474.3 million dollars in 2009, and 480.7 million dollars in 2010. So when SMRT are earning so much revenue, have they put into consideration how to better improve their train services?

Temasek Holdings is the largest shareholder of SMRT [at 54%], no need for me to elaborate any further.

And go look at their operating expenses in the following figure. Staff costs account for almost 40% of their total operating expenses whereas repair and maintenance only accounts for only 11% of their operating costs~! Can’t they reduce the staff costs and allocate more resources for repair and maintenance or at least do some research and development to improve train service efficiency?


The following figure is the most interesting one. The CEO’s pay is the highest and even when you combine the rest of the directors’ pay [total is only $592920], it can’t match up to the CEO’s pay of $1,310,298~! Whoa!


Well, needless to say, SMRT = fail! World class transport system my ass!