Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Forum: Policymakers should walk a mile in commuters' shoes

The Land Transport Authority is certainly on the right track with its initiative to seek users' perspective for its 2040 masterplan (LTA seeks ideas to realise Singapore's car-lite dream; Sept 20).

The heart of any transportation system is the commuter experience, and LTA has consistently sought to align its efforts with what the users need through ground-sensing.

However, it is puzzling that much intervention is needed to manage and regulate major initiatives.

Image for illustration only

An example is the active mobility programme promoting the use of alternative means of transport such as walking, cycling, and using personal mobility devices (PMDs) or others for first-and last-mile journeys.

Initial attempts at introducing bike-sharing has seen bicycles being abused and haphazardly parked, obstructing walkways with even a few of them ending up in trees.

The new licensing regime for bike-sharing operators is now much more stringent and costly.

How much of these obligations and costs would roll down to commuters?

The introduction of PMDs and e-bicycles has gained traction, but in such a dysfunctional manner that the Active Mobility Act had to be enacted to ensure safety.

Even then, the Act is unwieldy and not intuitive; one has to remember the rules and where the four main types of mobility devices can be legally used.

This ironically puts people off such alternative means of transport. The cost of enforcement is also significant.

If LTA is already receiving sufficient feedback from the ground, then why is the execution of the programmes seemingly not so well thought-out?

Does the problem lie with the policymakers then?

For a start, how many of those on the advisory panel reviewing the feedback actually take public transport daily, and are PMD users championing active mobility?

Getting users' feedback lets policymakers sympathise with users, but unless they actually go through the user experience themselves, policymakers will lack the empathy to come up with effective and sustainable solutions. Going through the commuting experience will also allow them to stand by their recommendations.

Teo Chian Chye

Ref: http://str.sg/ostX

Forum: Many Singaporeans lack perspective

1) Living abroad will let Singaporeans better value what they have here

Vlogger Nuseir Yassin's comments about many people in Singapore lacking perspective struck a chord with me (Too many in Singapore lack perspective, says vlogger; Sept 21).

The issue is really about the references against which people compare their circumstances.

Of course, cars are costly in Singapore, there are still MRT breakdowns and there are long queues in polyclinics and government hospitals, among other things. But Singapore has progressed, and we are benefiting from the improvements.

Is Mr Yassin wrong to say that we are an "almost perfect country" after 53 years? Which country are we referencing if we say that Singapore is not good enough?

Only people who have lived abroad for some time will really value what we have in Singapore because their point of reference is where they lived. This does not include only neighbouring countries, but also other First World countries.

Are the countries safe? Do they have our food and kampung culture? Does the average citizen own a house?

It is really sad to see Singaporeans reacting ungraciously to a non-Singaporean who is able to see our country for what it is by referencing what the world out there is like.

Singaporeans who complain should really spend a good period of time living abroad because only then will they have the perspective to make comparisons.

And if there are people who conclude that there is a country out there that is perfect, then perhaps Singapore is the wrong place for them to call home.

Nicholas Lim Chye Khiang

Ref: http://str.sg/oste

2) Cut vlogger some slack

The "almost perfect country" video made by Mr Nuseir Yassin, better known as the creator of Nas Daily , about some facets of Singapore drew criticism from some people, who say he is painting a picture too beautiful to be true.

Some people even asked him to get Singapore citizenship, live in an HDB flat, take the frequently breaking down MRT and eat at overpriced hawker centres to have a taste of the real life in Singapore.

I think we should give him a break.

He is just saying what he knows best about the country and I think he has done a good job so far, putting together so many facts in such a short time and creating such a wonderful video that put us on the world map yet again in a positive manner.

In fact, what he has mentioned is not untrue - we do have clean drinking water from the tap, an island made out of trash, a powerful passport that allows us to travel to many countries visa-free, about 80 per cent of us live in public housing and most of us do have a roof over our heads. Almost 100 per cent of the population is educated and the people here are not denied basic healthcare.

No country in this world is perfect. We should manage our expectations and appreciate what we already have.

We can make this almost-perfect country perfect if we put in effort together, but to attack and insult a visitor will only make us go backwards.

I would like to apologise to Mr Yassin on behalf of the critics. The majority of us appreciate what you have done and you are welcome to visit Singapore again.

Please continue to make more great videos and show us the world.

Lim Soo Huat

Ref: http://str.sg/osth

You may want to read Commentary: If Nas Daily Is So Likeable, Why Do Singaporeans Hate Him?

Making the most of your fruits and vegetables

thenewpaper, 24 Sept, 2018

Exercise reduces signs of mental health disorders

People who exercise may experience symptoms of mental health disorders less often, a US study suggests. That may be true even when the exercise is doing household chores, researchers have found.

The study team examined survey data collected from more than 1.2 million American adults.

Participants were asked how often in the past month they had exercised, aside from physical activity at work.

Overall, people reported an average of 3.4 days of poor mental health each month, according to the results in The Lancet Psychiatry. This is 1.5 fewer days of poor mental health each month than those who never exercised.

Ref: https://www.tnp.sg/lifestyle/health/exercise-reduces-signs-mental-health-disorders