Why it feels so darn right to blame PAP for our train blues

December 20, 2011

The trains have suddenly lost their luster – once the jewel in the crown of Singapore and a symbol of cool efficiency, dependability and quality assurance – it has been transformed overnight into a rickety bone shaker, the very source of a nations anxieties. Yet what remains curious to me is how so much of our revulsion concerning our trains has been directed to the imaginary sins (or maybe they are real? This is definitely a case for agent Mulder and Scully) we associate with everything that is wrong with the PAP. The timing of this twist of logic is no surprise; never before in the history of Singapore or for that matter any nation has such complex technology such as the trains occupied a central place in the economy, to say nothing of daily life. You could even say trains these days aren’t trains as they remain very much the alter ego of the ruling party, when trains hum along happily, the ruling party is sweet. And since so much of daily life has been touched by the whole idea of an all pervasive government – none of us ever seem to attribute the reliability of our trains to science – coming to think of it, neither do we associate life expectancy increases every year to science either as much as we do the whole idea of state planning. And this should prompt us to press the pause button and ask: how did the whole idea of the PAP become so enmeshed with the idea of trains? Granted, the PAP has rammed up the population and this may have even strained the sinews of public services. But this still doesn’t quite supply the answer – why do we blame the government when things go bump in the night?

One obvious reason is that, hardly anybody in Singapore these days can distinguish where the line between government and the icons of a progressive society begins or for that matter ends. For too many Singaporeans, the very idea that we can somehow gut out let’s say, the whole idea of government from water supply, air quality, deadly dengue mossies, airlines to running trains on time is simply inconceivable. You could even say, it would be something alien and abstract to believe that hospitals, water treatment plants and trains can somehow run as well as they do without the deft hand of government holding the levers of power – part and parcel of that misplaced belief has to lie with how the government has through the years fashioned its persona by leveraging on the success of these progressive icons e.g marina bay barrage, integrated resorts, SMRT etc to flesh out its alter ego of dependability, reliability and assurance of quality – at every turn and opportunity, the government has not only been quick to garner credit for everything that hums happily in Singapore from bus bollards that can stop blind aunties ploughing their SUV’s into to perhaps the idea when you turn on the tap for a drink of water without having to bear the taste of death. Worst of all it has even perpetuated the myth of infallibility to ridiculous heights by paying themselves sky high salaries that suggest perhaps these people have some deserving arcanum.

One might even conclude this may be one reason why it’s virtually impossible for the ranks of the general public not to feel an acute sense of disenchantment with the PAP when something goes terribly awry. As since the PAP has through the years cloaked the world in mystery by selling its mumbo jumbo of the cult of infallibility and promoting its appellation of the best in the world – this really can only work, if things don’t go bump in the night – but as the seers would often say, the fall from grace comes with pride – and when that day comes, is it so unusual for all of us to suddenly find the whole idea of relying on a select few to deliver the good life suddenly so threatening than enchanting?

Darkness 2011
“For 3,000, the Guilds have sold the idea to the entire gaming community, that only the Brotherhood have the ability to fold space – the black of arts of travelling without moving – the ability to transverse the infinity of space in one leap and bound. For 3,000, we have instilled the cinder of fear into every single race, creed and community in the outliers that without us, they will all be marooned like flecks of space dust. For 3,000, the Guilds have adulterated the good name of the Brotherhood by embellishing themselves with all sorts of mumbo jumbo, including I might add, the idea that they are somehow superior than the rest of us by forwarding us all the claptrap, only they and they alone can see the world clearest – and now that humpty dumpty is smashed beyond all prospects of economic repair – the whole universe sees us for what we really are, a bunch of shambolic mumblers whose levers of power are connected to absolutely nothing.“

“Speaker, the right honorable gentlemen of the Strangelands is out of line!”

“Good Sir I urge you to sit down before you fall down. I have not finished! Mr Speaker, I hereby table a motion before the Imperium to put an end to this sham – the motion that stands before this house is to put an end to the reign of the guilds once and for all and usher in the age of reason – it will be a brave new world gentlemen, one that may even see us sharing power – but one that I see no prospects of denying this if we are to continue to exert our influence over the affairs of the universe!”

Speech given by Darkness in the Imperium in the Age of Reason – under the Chapter: “The Age of Ignorance” – recorded in Hansard Page: 9,028 / The Book of Ages – The Brotherhood Press 2005

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