$1.1b to help transport operators: Not a single cent for the disabled?

I refer to the National Day Message.

It states that “Singapore must be an inclusive society with a heart. We uphold meritocracy, to motivate everyone to try their best. But individual achievement must be tempered with a mutual obligation. The successful ones have a duty to contribute back more to society. We need to treat one another with dignity and respect, and to share the fruits of success widely, so that no Singaporean is left out”.

FRMC: It’s up to the PTC?

In this connection, I would like to refer to the Fare Review Mechanism Committee (FRMC)  clarification that concessionary travel schemes, come under the Public Transport Council (PTC) and are beyond the scope of the FRMC (“FRMC explains distinction between itself and PTC”, Channel NewsAsia, July 2).

PTC: It’s up to the Ministries?

When public transport fares were raised last year, the PTC’s chairman said in August 2011, that the starting point really is to have the respective ministry who are looking after the disabled to have a view of it as well and the challenge is to define what is the population of disabled you want to help (All-Day Concessionary Travel, Lower Fares For Senior Citizens”, Today, August 6, 2011).

So, now that more than 10 months have lapsed, is there any update on this?

PTC: It’s up to the transport operators?

This year, on 4 January, the PTC’s reply to a disabled group was that the PTC will continue to encourage the public transport operators to review their policy on public transport concessions for various groups including the disabled, and work with them progressively to meet the various concession requests in a balanced manner.

So, the FRMC says that its up to the PTC, and the PTC has said that it depends on the ministry and the public transport operators – where do the disabled stand?

10 years on: still nothing?

Despite almost annual appeals for concessionary travel for the disabled, and two 5-year Enabling Plans for People with Disabilities, when will the disabled get concessionary travel?

After all, practically all our neighbouring countries, like Malaysia, already do so.

How much reduced profits are expected for the operators, by giving such concessionary fares?

Finally, if we can spend $1.1 billion to help the transport operators provide more buses, why can’t we spend some of it to help the disabled?

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.