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Archive for April, 2016

Singapore SMRT Needs To Be Moving In The Right Direction

By: Roadside Observer

28 April 2016 Thur

Over the past three over years, Singapore’s mass transit rail system has performed like a Roller Coaster more than anything else.

Apparently the public has lost some confidence over the most important public transport system which carries millions of commuters daily. The following media extracts of major local news agencies have highlighted the public concerns. 



The above media commentary (by Mr. Christopher Tan) mainly highlighted two issues need to be addressed: system design and state of infrastructure. (ie. software and hardware problems).
However, these two elements are broad base categorisation; and we can expect that those senior executives (including board members) at SMRT would be smart enough to have debated over what solutions could be applied (on the two elements).

As for the million-dollar question of “where does the buck stop?”, we can agree that it is not for the rail’s CEO Mr. Kuek (who happens to be the ex Chief of Defence Force) to shoulder all the blames. The fact is that he inherited a poorly managed outfit and systems by then and yet he hugely underestimated the challenges he would face. We should therefore praise his courage to take on the mountain task. Franky, Kuek would have other good career options available then.

Think deeper, SMRT is a commercial entity that serves Singapore’s public transportation needs, albeit a very crucial part.
SMRT is merely a Down-stream (下游) business operator.
The ultimate or higher up responsibility of nation-wide rail
lines & systems planning, policies and supervision rests with a national (or state) body, which is the Land Transportation Authority (LTA) and partly also, assisted by the appointed SMRT Board.
Therefore, it is rather interesting about who should answer the question of Where Does The Buck Stop?

It is even more interesting by looking back on why SMRT be allowed to switch its business focus (and resources) away from its core business to the Retail & Shop Rent business for a long period of almost 10 years; until its system eaneering aspect turned almost junk before Mr. Kuek the current CEO was called upon to try “save the day”. Who approved that major policy? Who was to ensure synergies in the long term planning and rail lines blueprint during that period?

SMRT should now focus on the following,
1. Establish a clear “battle plan” to accomplish Quality Time rail maintenance. This means, when push comes to shove, clearly identify what can be trade off during certain period of time in order to achieve the “must have” state of maintenance. The continuing pressure that costs its systems engineering to continue deteriorate is the management mindset of trying too hard to strike a good balance all round.
SMRT should be aware that it has put itself into fighting a hard battle scenario, not just engineering issue.

2. Isolate critical “Leakages” and reinforce “Interfaces” within the system design. As Mr. Christopher Tan’s commentary about the SMRT’s system design and infrastructure issues. However, at this stage it is not possible to carry out large scale system redesign and infrastructure overhaul without huge disruption to the island’s most crucial transportational means.

Such isolation/reinforcement strategy helps to, first to gradually slow down system/infrastructure deterioration and, secondly helps to limit a critical failure (or leakage) within the system to spread across multi lines. The question remains how thorough such processes are being carried out?
Isolation is relatively less complex; reinforcing interfaces within the existing system design and heavy-loaded infrastructure can be a tricky task.

3. Key Resource management (engineering, human, safety). Besides systems and process management, SMRT definitely needs to improve on its resource management especially human resources; in particular it has great impact on safety. It is a proven theory that great majority of safety violations were caused by human errors! Kept reviewing SOPs after accidents is not effective enough to achieve excellent safety management which is required by any mass transit platform. The recent rail track fatal accident has much to say. Besides impact on safety, management of hundreds and thousands of engineering experts and operational staff to sustain high efficiency and productivity is challenging.

From now on, whoever the CEO of SMRT ultimately has to deliver…


The above press editorial apparently lacks in-depth discussion about SMRT’s extend of damage repair. The real issue here is definitely not about how much more transparent SMRT should be to the public. But rather, is SMRT heading down the right path to make things right?!

There’s no merit just to be more “publicly transparent” if among SMRT, its Board and LTA have yet to agree on a clear roadmap and well defined courses of action. The path ahead would involve some trade off.

新加坡走上经济转型的大前提 ~ 为什么大能量和民生管理是关键?



作为一个新加坡夢想 Singapore Dreams 的经济大转型,总结新加坡所面对的執行上的大挑战有以下几点:

1.  成功连接国际“大市场”。
2.  发展平衡的“大人口”结构。
3.  持续性的前沿技术創新“大能量”。
4.  一个多样化的“大思维”社会环境。

尤其在以 科技創新 为前进发展的国策下,以小博大和怕失败的心态必须加以调整,才能判断正确方向和设定风险机制。有效(说白了,夠规模)资源投入和持续性才能产生創新的大能量和效应。任何創新只有在产生大能量和效应之后才有其真正的意义。



所以,能量 (包括了市场经济能量,社会能量和创新能量) 和民生管理(即提供持续性高度就业,平衡式医保和新一轮基礎建设) 是成功转型的关键!這些,都須要国家能维持中长期全面性发展的常年经济预算(成本)。


Singapore & Its Success Factors for New Economy Transformation


The following are part of the extracts. (It will definitely bored you to death if I list the whole article).




Comments from TheRealOpinion:

There are already many similar articles posted about why the Little Red Dot is getting from bad to worse by ex-Singaporeans or those who are residing overseas. Though everyone who are concerned about the country has the right to air their views; however not many of them have the right level of perspective. Therefore, their views tend to be more or less personal grievances rather than seeing things from a higher plane.
We need to have more thoughtful views based on strategic perspective and hence, provide constructive ideas/opinions that really matter.

Here’s my view,
For Singapore to strive and to further develop (and improved significantly) in the next 50 years, it will have to transform itself in the following major areas. They are,

1. Big Markets. Strive to closely connect to international big markets, with regard to developing strong capability in offering targeted products, professional services and unique middleman trades. This requires a strong base of new technologies, innovations and startup funding. eg. Fintech, crowdfunding etc.

2. Big Population. If Singapore is to establish more significant growth in economic base, both in the domestic and overseas markets and yet confronted with an aging population; it has to maintain a steady growth in its population base over the next few decades, including local population size and right sets of foreign manpower. Only with a sizeable pool of working population and having a right balance of professional skill sets in the New Economy; we can then expect a very successful national endeavor in the economy transformation process.

3. Big Scale. We are no longer living and competing in a village or fragmented or isolated marketplace. The impact of new economy that presents itself to all nations is the tremendous scalability in new technologies coupled with highly expandable network throughout targeted markets.
Singapore needs an integrated yet flexible “new economy framework” that can fully facilitate (and fund) industrial and service-oriented innovations to take off and compete to win in bigger arenas internationally but not just stay within its limited domestic markets.

4. Big Culture. In order to strive successfully on the prior three (3) major areas, Inevitably Singapore has to transform itself to be a “Big Culture” along the path taken to transform into new economy landscape. This means that Singapore’s cultural development will no longer constrained by its own origins and founding mindset. It will have to accommodate different ideas brought in by foreign technology and business partners; and allows them to evolve into greater competitive strengths. Without an accommodating and inclusive culture, it is very hard for innovation to happen in a big way.

Considering the above challenges, it is crucial that the govt. posseses robust blueprints for new infrastructure development, a new economy integration framework and, sustainable high targeted fiscal policy & budgets that can support the Singapore dreams.

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