Government to restructure the public bus service, Roy Ngerng given till Friday to apologise to PM
Mothership Memo: Analysing the important news for you daily.
Mothership Memo is Mothership’s daily brief on the important headlines of the day. We will also contribute our views on the issues at hand.
The Government has announced that by the second half of 2014, it will own all buses, depots and interchanges, and fund the operating costs of running the public bus infrastructure. Contracts for the operating of bus routes will be offered by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to private sector companies through competitive tendering. The Government will keep bus fare revenues while private operators will be paid a fixed sum for operating bus routes and non-fare revenue such as bus advertising.
For Q1 2014, SBS had an operating loss of $4.7 million on its bus operations. SMRT’s bus operations made a loss $28.4 million in 2013. With the Government taking up the cost of running the public bus infrastructure and saying that they will keep transport fares low, we can only hope they succeed where SBS and SMRT had failed.
Additionally, news reports have noted that competition between private operators will drive up demand for drivers, which in turn may see increased wages for drviers. Hopefully, more Singaporeans will be given the chance to become bus captains.
Blogger Roy Ngerng has been given an extension till Friday, 5pm to apologise publicly to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for an online post alleging that Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings were misappropriated.
Although Ngerng had since taken down the blog post, he was supposed to comply to other undertakings by yesterday, a 3-day period from the issuance of the letter of demand by PM Lee’s lawyers.
The demands include the removal of the blog post and links to it on Ngerng’s Facebook pages, an apology to be published on his blog, and to pay PM Lee compensation and legal fees.
Singapore Democratic Party Sec-Gen Chee Soon Juan and human rights group Maruah have spoken up against PM Lee’s move.
Chee, who has previously been sued by government leaders for defamation, said: “Good leaders shouldn’t take action, even though we can, against those who speak ill of us. However venomous and hurtful the words may be, we should rise above the attacks and seek dialogue and debate with those with whom we disagree.”
Maruah president Braema Mathi said it was “dismayed” with PM Lee’s actions, adding that Ngerng’s post should be “refuted by the Prime Minister for any misinformation or lapses in communication” instead.
This is the first time PM allowed for an extension of deadline for a blogger to respond to letter of demand. However, it is puzzling why a deadline extension is needed. According to TODAY, Ngerng’s lawyer Ravi did not say why his client needed more time to respond. Is Ngerng using the public spotlight to build support for his causes? Over the past few days of extensive media coverage, Ngerng has publicised his “Return Our CPF Hong Lim Park event” and announced his application to be a Nominated Member of Parliament. There is also a FB page set up to support Ngerng. What would Ngerng highlight in the next two days?
Top photo from here.