August 17, 2008

Another Olympic medal for Singapore...finally!

Today is historic for Singapore finally won another Olympic medal after a 48-year wait. The Women's Table Tennis team settled for silver after losing to hosts China, but the colour of the medal was expected.

On Friday as I left work, there was a crowd of office workers glued around the TV sets at the Aviva reception keenly watching the semi-final clash between us and Korea. As I walked past them, I caught a glimpse of the scoreline that was in Singapore's favour, smiled to myself and kept fingers crossed. By the time I reached home 20 mins later, the match was over and we were guaranteed silver.

There was not much hope of beating China on their home ground, qualifying for the final was already a major achievement and I think most Singaporeans had accepted we would be second. But still I think many tuned in to their TV sets anyway, especially to watch the victory ceremony. Nevermind that our players were formerly Chinese citizens, they still did us proud.

I got all excited when I spotted my former SSC bosses on TV, recognised Marilyn my director and Jin Teik the CEO cheering Team Singapore on. Having worked at the Sports Council, albeit briefly, I have a greater appreciation for Singapore athletes. There's still a week left in the Olympics, maybe we stand a chance for medals in the table tennis singles...time will tell.

Oh, and there was a follow up report today in the Straits Times about the NETS surcharge. NETS came out to say they had different agreements with different merchants therefore Singapore Pools and Comfort are allowed to impose a surcharge. For Singapore Pools, it's so it can remind the public to 'bet within their means' and for Comfort the fee is to defray its operating costs after investing in technology.

Pish tosh I say! There shouldn't be such double standards. Of all the merchants using NETS, these two are the ones who can well afford to absorb the operating costs! The transport company invested in technology to bring greater convenience to passengers, but chose to pass on their expenses to customers...despite being worth $3 billion!

And another thing, the government today defended the increase in ERP rates saying that it keeps traffic flowing. In the first place, there are more cars on the road because the government made owning a car more affordable by reducing the cost of ownership and increasing the COE quotas. The ERP rates, hours and locations are only going to keep going up since there isn't likely to be a reduction in car ownership.

And, whenever people source alternative routes to avoid paying ERP, traffic builds up on those roads, prompting the LTA to build a gantry to ease traffic. It's a no-win situation for drivers and the usual Singaporean reaction is to grumble for bit and then move on because we know whatever we say won't reverse the decisions.

The other day Nick and I got caught in a jam at Eu Tong Sen Street despite passing through a $2 gantry. Pay money, still get stuck in traffic! Let's face it, ERP is just another money-making venture, the congestion is just an excuse!

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