Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Straightening the Straits Times (4)

This series is now into its fourth instalment and I’ve yet to receive any negative feedback, apart from the well-intentioned advice to rein in the punches. This worries me. I can’t believe everyone would agree with everything I’ve countered in this column, and I certainly can’t believe everyone would agree with everything that has been put forward day in and day out in our newspapers. Here are more examples:

If only things were that simple
In another attempt to justify his warning to SIA pilots not to push their luck too far, our senior minister Lee Kuan Yew argued that the S$600-million earnings SIA (with assets of S$11 billion) is hoping to make in its current financial year is no big deal.

“If in fact it is a magnificent profit, the price of SIA shares would have risen. It didn’t rise,” he said.

I suppose any financial advisor would be able to tell you that share price rises because of a variety of reasons. Profitability is just one of them. So even if a company is immensely profitable, it doesn’t guarantee that its share price would rise. Lee’s argument is therefore overly simplistic and flawed.

Going in Circle
In the Dec 13 edition of the Straits Times, it was reported in an article titled “ Line comes full Circle with 13 stops” that the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has revealed the locations of the remaining 13 of the 29 stations in the Circle Line. This 33km MRT line is expected to be operational by 2010.

However, some stations on the accompanying graphics are marked with an asterisk, with fine print on the side indicating that “* means the station will not be built entirely and opened with the rest in 2010. These stations will be completed and opened only when there are enough commuters to and from the surrounding areas.”

Rather than coming full circle, this sounds more like déjà vu. Does it mean if there are not enough commuters ever around those affected stations, they will never be opened? In that case, the LTA better make sure people are willing to walk more than 350 metres to the stations, or divert enough bus routes to make it necessary to do so.

Another white horse misnomer
Speaking of 2010, it seems that the Football Association of Singapore has reiterated that “Goal 2010” is not a target but a vision.

What a joke! It’s like saying that “Remaking Singapore” is not about remaking, and the courtesy campaign is not about courtesy. Just goes to show the extent people will go to wriggle themselves out of a tricky situation.

Make no bones about it
Another laughable empty rhetoric was made by our outgoing prime minister Goh Chok Tong recently. “I can feel it in my bones that next year will be a better year,” he said on Dec 28.

My gut feel is that if next year isn’t any better, he will conveniently blame it on SARS, terrorism and the US economy again. Remember the last time you heard him said something about “more good years”?

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