On Monday (22 January), Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat announced the cancellation of the Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) original plan to transition to SimplyGo and replace older public transport payment cards after facing public backlash.
In a recent Facebook post, Leong Mun Wai, Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) from the Progress Singapore Party (PSP), commended Transport Minister Chee for addressing the issues and expressed anticipation for government clarification on the announced S$40 million spending in February’s Parliament session.
The online community is urging both PSP NCMPs to seek justification from the Minister for the additional S$40 million investment (approximately US$29.8 million) aimed at allowing commuters to continue using EZ-Link and Nets FlashPay cards.
LMW commends the Minister for addressing Singaporeans’ concerns
On Tuesday (23 January), Mr Leong conveyed his satisfaction that Minister Chee and the Ministry of Transport have taken steps to acknowledge and address Singaporeans’ concerns regarding digital inclusivity.
“We are heartened by Minister Chee’s apology “for the delays commuters experienced when they tried to convert their existing EZ Link cards” and his acknowledgement of Singaporeans’ concerns regarding the SimplyGo system.”
“It is a breath of fresh air to have a Minister apologise, take charge and reverse a publicly announced decision in response to public feedback, ” he added.
During the Parliamentary motion debate on “Building an Inclusive and Safe Digital Society” on 10 January, Mr Leong posed a supplementary question to Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo, seeking a response to the numerous negative feedback from Singaporeans about SimplyGo.
At the time, Mr Leong cautioned that Incidents like SimplyGo will affect the trust in digital systems in the long run.
However, his question went unanswered, as Minister Teo invited Mr Leong to file a separate Parliamentary Question for a proper response.
Netizens question the rationale behind the S$40 million expenditure
Observing comments on Mr Leong’s Facebook post, some lauded PSP’s NCMPs for persistently posing tough questions in Parliament despite challenges in holding the government accountable.
Netizens raised queries about the rationale behind the additional S$40 million spending to retain the old card payment system. Calls were made for PSP NCMPs to take this matter to Parliament, seeking detailed clarification on the government’s intended use of the funds and a breakdown of the costs incurred due to the SimplyGo saga glitches.
One netizen praised Mr Leong’s positive and collaborative approach, highlighting the PSP’s vital role in holding the government accountable and advocating for its people.
“By engaging in such analysis, one can gain a deeper understanding of the political dynamics and policy development processes in Singapore.”
Another comment expressed hope that all Ministers keep an open mind to embrace diverse views and opinions.
The comment urged them to cease writing off opposition contributions and proposals, emphasizing the need for a diverse and inclusive society to progress.
“By writing off opposition’s proposals, especially good and feasible ones, the ruling party is just practicing group thinking and only accepts ideas from within, ” the comment wrote.
A concerned netizen urged the NCMP to inquire in Parliament why the PAP government needs to allocate a substantial amount of taxpayers’ money and requested a detailed breakdown of the expenditure.
Additionally, the netizen urged the NCMP to ask the PAP government in Parliament about the measures they plan to implement to prevent a costly SimplyGo blunder from occurring again in the future.
Another netizen expressed a belief that the additional $40 million spending is more likely aimed at rectifying the SimplyGo glitches rather than admitting any government oversight.
The netizen pointed out that the blame appears to be shifted onto commuters who stick to existing cards.
She suggested that Mr Leong should pose questions inquiring about how the $40 million is justified, seeking clarification on the specific reasons and necessity behind such a substantial expenditure.
A suggestion also recommended that the NCMP should inquire about the total cost spent on the failed SimplyGo project, seeking a detailed breakdown of expenses.
Another netizen remarked that this time, Singaporeans successfully voiced their discontent, prompting a reversal of the unsound SimplyGo measure.
“Hopefully, Singaporeans learnt from this incident to voice their frustration and opinions with resolve loudly and that opposition plays a very important in getting their voices heard.”
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