Cheaper Better Faster…..Breakdowns

breakdown

By: B Goode

Lately, each time I entered a lift, I’d first check where the alarm button was before I pressed it to make sure that it was working. Just in case. As it most probably would nowadays, if the lift was to break down, I wouldn’t have to search for the alarm button in pitch darkness only to find out that it was faulty. And it would be pointless to call the emergency service from my smartphone because there would be no signal.

And if the lift’s electrical wiring was as cocked-up as that of the MRT’s, if the lift was to break down due to an electrical fault, the alarm button would be affected too. Duh…

So chances were, they’d discover my bloated body 7 days later with my decomposing middle finger pointing upwards.

It seems like Singapore has been plagued by breakdowns. Train breakdown. Lift breakdown. Rain-shelter breakdown. Communication breakdown. Hygiene breakdown. And as a result, mental breakdown.

Trolls and opposition opportunists would want us to believe that the breakdowns were due to the 70% who voted for the PAP. Apologists on the other hand would say that breakdowns happened in other countries too.

To the trolls I’d say; go fly a kite.

To the apologist I’d say; just because breakdowns happened in other countries would not make them any more acceptable.

And for breakdowns in other countries, we’d be quick to attribute them to corruption, government interference, inefficiency, lack of money and other imaginable excuses just to make us feel good about ourselves.

But this is Singapore we are talking about; the best country in the world with the cleanliest government and most efficient system, or so we are made to believe. Surely such frequent breakdowns should not have happened?

But they did. So why?

I would attribute it to the malaise that was slowly creeping into our system. We are becoming more forgiving towards inefficiency; more benevolent towards incompetence. When once we demanded the best, now mediocre has become the new normal.

How else would we explain the SMRT CEO getting a fat bonus despite the frequent train breakdowns and despite the death of two technicians during his watch?

How else would we explain the sudden discovery of more than 30 mosquito nests in an estate just because one of the residents was infected with the Zika virus? Surely there must be a lapse somewhere but no one was made accountable.

Just like no one was made accountable for the putrid durian cakes. Was the hotel fined? Not that we know of.

Benevolence is not a bad thing. But there is a fine line between being benevolent and closing our eyes to the dereliction of duty.

We need to bring back the attitude of old when we rewarded good work but reprimanded the shoddy and the bad. It was this attitude that had made Singapore what it was today and without which, we would slowly but surely spiral down towards mediocrity.

It is a cliché, but without natural resources, Singapore cannot afford to be normal. We must be extraordinary and in order to be one, at times we must be brutal in our assessment and actions.

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