Friday, 16 December 2011

I'm very free

I'm quite sick of seeing foreign newspapers calling Singapore a "tightly controlled city state".

All these years of living in Sg, I've only felt "tightly controlled" by Mother when I was younger. By country? No! I'm free to do whatever I want!

(Please don't give me nonsense like we cannot have protests or strikes etc. I appreciate a peaceful life.)

There is a concept in Montessori education - freedom within limits. Simply put, a child is free to do anything as long as he's not hurting/disrespecting/disturbing etc himself or others. It's believed that left on his own among good people and a conducive environment, a child will naturally be constructive and happy to learn and help others etc. If there's a disturbance in his environment, he can also (learn to) help himself and others.

Unfortunately, all I can see in our society, from online at least, is that people only know how to complain and point fingers instead of giving constructive feedback.

Anyway, this stems from reading various reports on the north-south line MRT breakdown on Thursday. Public transport is close to my heart cos I don't drive. It's such a terrible incident, exposing plenty of shortcomings in the system - contingency planning, communications and even basic safety. Everyone was scolding the authorities and calling for the resignation of the top guy. Woman in this case.

But the most important thing is to find out the cause and fix things to prevent future incidents instead of assigning blame! I always find it ridiculous for the top guy to quit upon disasters because hey, shouldn't he take responsibility and fix things? Letting him quit is like relieving him of the difficult job and throwing the job to the next poor guy! Sometimes, 解铃还需系铃人! Fix it, then you may quit, because Singaporeans aren't a very forgiving people.

Actually I like taking trains compared to buses, not just in Sg but everywhere, especially in unfamiliar places because train stations are usually marked so I know exactly where to alight. But it's so hard to understand what the driver is talking about. It is usually very muffled and has to fight with the din in the train. In fact sometimes at the station when there's some announcement, it also takes some effort to make out what the chap is saying.

One exception is this particular driver on the CTA red line who speaks loud AND clear. While other drivers are muffled, he knows how to speak properly into the mike. And the bonus is that he's always greeting passengers with a cheerful "good evening good evening good evening!" and once, "may the force be with you" at the final stop! For regular reminders like not leaving anything behind, he jazzes things up with examples of things passengers leve behind, like wallet, phone, burgers and children!

Anyway, specifically for the MRT, I think the ground staff are the most important people in emergencies. First of all, they need to be trained to speak properly. No need for all four official languages - just focus on good and clear English. And while they're at it, upgrade the sound system too. Training the ground staff is just one aspect. Sometimes, waiting for the central authority to tell them what's wrong takes too long. Passengers need immediate reassurance so it's really up to the staff to do something but that depends on the amount of autonomy given to them and ultimately individual initiative.

Ok, vented. Going to do some reading while waiting for Sito to return from golf. With my Jamba Juice :)

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