My apologies to NSF folks and NSmen, if you find your next activation, call-up or open mobilisation related to a transportation screw-up, it may have something to do with me. You see, it seems someone at the LTA reads my blog, and they seem to like my wild ideas. The one about Militarising Our Public Transport.
Except that they’re paring down the idea. The military will only be called upon when the transport companies cannot handle themselves. This is absurd.
When it comes to making money, the private enterprise reap the profits. When they don’t have the organic capacity to deal with problems they’ve created, they expect someone else to bail them out. How ridiculous that the regulator doesn’t find that thought crazy. What incentive, then, do they have to even want to address their long-standing problems? I’m not even getting started on how they can raise transport fares whenever they aren’t making enough money.
I’m not against the principle of the military stepping in to lend a hand in the event of a national crisis. There are many sensible situations that warrant calling upon them to help. Like, for example, the hijacking of SQ117 in 1991. That hijacking is reasonably not something we expect Singapore Airlines to deal with on their own.
Our MRT breakdowns hardly qualify as a national crisis.
This is simply the failing of a public transport operator. This is also the failing of the public transport regulator.
LTA thinks they may need soldiers to help manage crowds. Really? In the recent massive SMRT breakdown on 7th July, were the crowds so difficult to manage that they overwhelmed SMRT staff? I wasn’t affected myself, so I wasn’t on the ground to know first hand, but I hardly think the problem was about crowd management. There simply wasn’t enough alternate transportation to move the crowds along to wherever they needed to go. Calling upon soldiers for crowd control duties is hardly going to make any difference to the situation. In fact, calling soldiers in could add to the crowding problem.
I was thinking a little bit about how they think soldiers can be called up at short notice.
Transport expert Park Byung Joon said that tapping the military during massive disruptions makes sense as soldiers can be called up and deployed at short notice and “can channel commuters to the right places as quickly as possible”. — From Straits Times article on 21 Aug 2015
That can’t be open mobilisations, right? For open mobilisations, our soldiers are given up to eight hours to report after activation. I don’t think they will make any meaningful impact to crowd management if we had to wait eight hours for soldiers to report. Besides, wouldn’t those soldiers who have to travel to their reporting locations be equally impacted by the public transport disruption?
So, I think, to be able to call on soldiers at short notice, that will have to be those already in camp. Those folks who have to stay-in. I shudder to think, but perhaps there’ll be such a thing as MRT Breakdown Standby Duty in the future just for these type of situations.
Our soldiers have a duty to protect and defend our nation. Calling upon them in the event of a national crisis is perfectly fine, and I’d imagine there are already existing protocols to rely on. Our soldiers are not sai kang warriors. To turn to our soldiers, even if as they say only as a last resort, because some private enterprise screwed up is just totally absurd.