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SUSS professor’s explanation on SimplyGo discontent slammed as “condescending”

Netizens are upset about a condescending explanation given in a CNA podcast, in which former NMP Walter Theseira discussed public discontent with SimplyGo. He specifically referred to ‘lower-income Singaporeans’ when talking about the need for budgeting.

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SINGAPORE – Outrage has sparked among netizens over what they perceive as a “condescending” explanation by a guest speaker on a ChannelNews Asia (CNA) podcast, delving into public discontent surrounding the SimplyGo transition.

The podcast, ‘Heart of the Matter’ hosted by Steven Chia, featured two guests on 17 January: Summit Agarwal, a professor at the National University of Singapore’s School of Business, and Walter Theseira, an associate professor and head of the urban transportation program at the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) and former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP).

Initially, the host revealed that efforts to procure a representative from the Land Transport Authority for the show proved unsuccessful.

Consequently, they opted to invite the two guests to discuss the matter instead.

“Condescending” explanation of public discontent towards SimplyGo

The crux of the discussion centred on “Why are commuters unhappy over the SimplyGo switch?”

During the dialogue, the host directed a question to Walter Theseira regarding the public’s frustration with the inability to view remaining card balances when using SimplyGo.

Walter’s response, however, ignited controversy.

“What we didn’t anticipate is just how important this concept of using a cash card with a balance in it, is for two important groups,” Walter began.

“So one group is going to be those people who rely on keeping a certain balance in their cash cards for budgeting purposes. They may have very limited income, they don’t want to overspend too much on public transport. The other group, which I think is also out there are people who just don’t trust the way the system works.”

He continued, “Coming back to why we did not expect this (discontent from public), let’s think about this from the point of view of a planner, or an expert, somebody in the government. Well, most of (these people) are not lower-income Singaporeans. So this idea of having to budget very carefully wouldn’t have occurred. And of course, the other thing is, (these people) trust the systems (they’ve) built.”

Walter’s remark, particularly the phrase “Most of us are not lower-income Singaporeans,” incited a backlash among netizens who found the explanation patronizing and condescending.

They argued that it suggested the affluent segment wouldn’t concern themselves with card balances, unlike lower-income individuals who rely on budgeting.

Singaporean stage actor and television host, Hossan Leong, expressed his disbelief on CNA’s Instagram page, stating, ““Most of us are not lower income Singaporeans…” wow just wow. How patronizing and condescending is that? Everyone needs to budget – and with this STUPID CRAZY COST OF LIVING…you tell me how?”

Many users who commented on the issue expressed frustration with the explanation, echoing the view that it was overly “condescending” and evidently “out of touch.

“Honestly, this is such an unintelligent attempt to manage or salvage the situation. Excuse me… how about getting your planner(s) to think from the users’ experience?” one user wrote.

One user also noted that Walter’s explanation “was not very nice,” while asserting that the system is a downgrade.

“Just accept people’s feedback and improvise instead of saying these are mainly problems of lower-income Singaporeans!” the user added.

One user argues that budgeting isn’t exclusively a practice limited to lower-income Singaporeans, suggesting that some individuals simply prefer to be aware of the cost per trip.

Regarding Walter’s explanation that the planners couldn’t have foreseen the public’s concerns, another user commented, “he just illustrated how out of touch the people at the top are.”

Criticism also centred on the planners’ perceived lack of emotional intelligence and training, with some users suggesting that their decisions fail to resonate with the majority of commuters and demonstrate a lack of understanding of the challenges faced by average Singaporeans.

“I’m surprised the planners did not do focus group of user survey prior to launching this. There should be a pilot phase?” One user inquired.

Furthermore, certain users elucidated why many favour the previous system, noting its clarity and convenience.

The primary reason individuals wish to monitor their balance is to ensure timely card top-ups before reaching a level where entry is restricted, necessitating a backtrack to the machine, they explained.

Given the fast-paced lifestyle in Singapore, the previous system is preferred for its convenience.

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Maybe trying to get tenured. If not might be “let go” from his academic position at any time.

Unbelievable – to trade off morals, integrity, backbone to support openly, lies and dishonesty. Goodness. Apparent betrayal of 1,000,000s of slogging sheeps

Ok, it is understandable now why they can over-spent by 280% on the YOG – apparently they weren’t shown the balance in the originally allocated budget ($100m) during their weekly/monthly meetings when hosting the event … nor did they think they should ask periodically what is the balance like. Honest mistake, hor.

“Stupidity at his best” just like any PAP minions and sycophants. Why displaying fare debacle going to do with how poor or how rich a person is? Even wealthy guys who eat in restaurant out need receipt to check the amount of the items he spend. Can anyone tell me if you eat out at restaurant you don’t check the receipt to verify if correct amount being deducted using your credit/debit card ? If so, why is the problem showing fare of how much is spend? Just for info, even I have experienced mrt card not credit through even the… Read more »

No balls.
No spines.
No morals.
No respect.
A HUGE number of PAP Administration’s followers, both has doomed Sheep land and Sheeps.
The backward legislation and execution of laws to FAVOUR PAP Administration is the MOST CLASSIC of Classic Example of Corruption – has the world index TOOK attention to this.

“He continued, “Coming back to why we did not expect this (discontent from public), let’s think about this from the point of view of a planner, or an expert, somebody in the government.” “Well, most of (these people) are not lower-income Singaporeans. So this idea of having to budget very carefully wouldn’t have occurred.” He is referring to the planner,or an expert, somebody in government “And of course, the other thing is, (these people) trust the systems we’ve built.” He is referring to planner,or an expert, somebody in government All these commentators need to go back to PSLE English. Fucked… Read more »

We are talking about new system is worse than existing system, not about higher or lower income people?

If a system is poorly thought through, then we should ask why do we need to pay millions of dollars to such planners?

I hope Walter trust the authorities enough to be caught up on all his covid booster jabs. There is no reason, regardless of income class, for people to put up with unreliable and dodgy system that continuously overcharge on fares.
It is called not being stupid.

Basically one of their prime carriers doing their damage control on MSM targeting the daft 61%. What’s new?

“The primary reason individuals wish to monitor their balance is to ensure timely card top-ups before reaching a level where entry is restricted, necessitating a backtrack to the machine,” ABSOLUTELY !!! the question is why the top up has to be a minimum of $10. When I just need to spend 1plus dollar to go home. I might not be travelling for a whole week say working from home , so why is the G rotating my money. whEN ONE can use the balance $9 for other use. Why even need to check balance, just top up THE amount ONE… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by ganeshshk

Now blaming certain categories of people for their mistakes. Stop insulting Singaporeans!

Oh, now we know why our PM/ministers need to pay themselves million$ – so that they don’t have to look at the balance in their accounts, no need to worry that their accounts might be low on cost.

One guesses that the people in the Focus group aren’t from the “lower income” SIngaporeans. Probably just their fellow high income colleagues sitting around their office. Chee Hong Tat might want to come clean on this so we know just how rigorous their feedback gathering REALLY is.

Most BASIC question is: WHY do I need a “smart”phone app AND an expensive data plan when ali I need is to take public transport? Just a few months data plan and GST voucher, CDC voucher and DEFINITELY public transport voucher oledy GONE.

Of cos lah … They never 犯太岁。Where got like that One who 犯太岁 … 有理说不清。

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