So what’s new? We’ve heard talk about opening Phase 3 a few weeks ago, but nothing seems to have happened so far. Yesterday, everything seemed uneventful when I made my way home from my parents’ place on the Circle Line and then the NEL.
As I was getting off at Serangoon, there was an announcement that due to a power fault, there was no trains service between Queenstown and Tuas. The delay was expected to be 25 minutes. As I got on the NEL, updates from the PA system seemed to suggest that the NSL and EWL were both down. When I reached home, I learned from my Facebook newsfeed that Circle Line was also down.
The ensuing chaos was unsurprising. Safe distancing? Yao mo gao chor. While folks like me could heave a sigh of relief, my sympathy still goes out to those caught in the mayhem. Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung apologised to commuters in a Facebook post after power faults caused disruptions along three MRT train lines on Wednesday Oct 14 2020 night.
“Has been a rough and stressful evening for many commuters. We are sorry for the disruption and all the troubles caused,” he wrote. Ironically, it was a power fault which may or may not have something to do with the new power supply system. Below is an image shared by Raj Singh on Facebook.
Notice that there is no Covi-19 panic. But wouldn’t the situation last night have been much worse than groups gathering in numbers greater than 5 to sing or party? What about that group of 12 who got charged for visiting Lazarus Island? Here we are vilifying the folks who orgainsed their own karaoke sessions or sipped beer at Robertson Quay. Shouldn’t the folks responsible for a forced “gathering” of this magnitude be slapped with a punishment commensurate with the size of the crowd?
But wait a minute. We have experts who will disagree that public transport is a risk in the spread of Covid-19. I’m reminded of a little debate with an old friend of mine about 2 months ago. As usual, it’s our professor who denied (on my Facebook timeline in late August) that there is no documented case of Covid-19 being spread on public transport. He thinks that being in an enclosed space with infected persons will not spread the disease as long as you don’t talk. Yao mo gao chor ah? Seeing is believing.
And it gets even more absurd as the good professor tried to defend the indefensible, suggesting a laughably bizarre theory for people in the same apartment building being infected without contact with one another instead of the far more plausible explanation of the only shared common compartment – the lift. He had the nerve to call the latter explanation a speculation.
And really, it boils down to cost. $2.5 billion is a lot of money. The rhetorical question “do you want to pay more tax” should silence any kiasi Singaporean. Meanwhile SIA had secured a S$19 billion bail out. The good prof changed tack and made another ridiculous remark that the main spreaders were foreign workers and not folks who take the public transport.
Personally, I find it strange that people are not curious about why the fully cleared dorms suddenly get positive cases after workers return to work. Didn’t they get it from undetected (mostly untested unlike the dorms) cases in the community?
I finally gave up as he obviously fails to get my point that there are undetected community cases which has spread (in a direction reverse to the one he was referring to) to the completely cleared dorms and will spread through public transport within the community. This academic’s mindset is highly illustrative of the stubborn, assuming and dismissive attitude of bureaucrats and policy-makers in this country. It’s just one of the reasons that Singapore is just relatively good and not absolutely great.
We can trace visitors to markets, shopping malls and even movie theatres. We can’t really trace people on moving trains and buses with unmarked and unallocated seats. The conditions in these compartments are ideal for the spread of Covid-19 and the latest train disruption is so disastrous vis-a-vis Covid-19 transmission that it would be a miracle if a super spreader in the crowd didn’t infect hundreds of people.