Minister is “out of touch”?


Helping transport operators” profits is more important than helping seniors?

I refer to the article “MPs ‘chip in’ when senior citizens cannot afford public transport fares: Khaw Boon Wan” (Channel NewsAsia, Feb 5).

It states that “Members of Parliament (MP) can offer financial assistance to senior citizens who face difficulties paying for public transport, after the off-peak pass for elderly commuters was scrapped, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in Parliament on Monday.

The initiative was discontinued in December after shifting fewer than 200 of the pass users to off-peak travel.

The Government also stated on its website that less than 1 per cent of seniors who held concession cards had purchased the off-peak pass.”

Why was the number of off-peak passes purchased not disclosed – instead of just saying less than 1 per cent of seniors who held concession cards had purchased the off-peak pass?

Is “1 per cent” – 1,000 or 10,000 seniors who bought the pass?

As I understand that there are about one million residents age 60 and above – does it mean that “1 per cent” may be about 10,000?

Which is more important? Helping 10,000 seniors to save on public transport, or helping the transport operators to earn more?

From the perspective of seniors who need the pass – the reasoning that only 200 more seniors travelled off-peak is totally irrelevant.

Asking seniors to spend what may be typically hours to queue to see their MP at the weekly meet-the-people’s session, to “beg” for a few dollars for public transport, is not only beneath the dignity and respect which we should have for our seniors – but also non-sensical because the issue is not about not having enough money for public transport, but depriving them of a few much needed dollar savings on their daily commute.

The remarks in Parliament are downright insensitive and wreaks of a total lack of compassion.

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.