I don't understand how government authorities in Singapore can tell such blatant lies. It is shocking and it makes me worry about what this country is coming to. It is normal for a country to have problems, and I think it is ok to say, "We have a problem, and we will be taking action to solve it." But to tell an outright lie, such as "There was no flooding at Orchard Road" ... What does that tell you about our government?
It indicates dishonesty. That's bad enough. But it also shows stupidity. This is also very worrying, for we are in serious trouble if we have a stupid government. Why do I say that the Orchard Road incident reflects the government's stupidity?
I say so, because the lie was so stupid. This is the Internet era. Anyone in Orchard Road at that time could easily have pulled out his or her handphone, and taken a photo of the floods and posted it on blogs, forums, Facebook, Stomp etc.
And the lie would be completely exposed. If you were dishonest and you also actually had some brains, you should be telling your lies with a little more skill, surely.
Indeed, at Orchard Road, buildings such as Liat Towers and Lucky Plaza were flooded, and people did take photos and post them on the Internet.
Not a flood ... Then what is this?
A new water catchment area in Orchard Road?
Lucky Plaza's new design for a water fountain.
Works only on rainy days.It took a full week, but later the PUB decided that it had better admit that there were floods at Orchard Road. Their new press release on 30 December stated: "The sustained heavy downpour resulted in the flooding of several roads including the Thomson/Cambridge areas as well as the basements of Liat Towers and Lucky Plaza."
Oooh, the magic word has suddenly appeared in their statement. There was "flooding", after all, and at Liat Towers and Lucky Plaza, which are in the heart of the Orchard Road area.
But you can still smell the stubborn PUB attempt at obfuscation - they won't say the words "Orchard Road" and they insist on inserting the word "basements".
Well, of course, it is the BASEMENTS that are flooded. Basements are the lowest floors of any building. Isn't it bad enough that the basements are flooded? What does the PUB want - does it expect the 2nd floor or 4th floor to be flooded? Bah.
In the aftermath of the event, it's also distressing to see how the Straits Times reported the event. To me, it felt like the top ST priority was to defend the reputation of the PUB and the government. Look at the way the Straits Times chose to entitle its article - "Half a Typical December's Rain Fell in Three Hours". The first two paragraphs of the article read as follows:
"In three hours last Friday, the rain that pelted down on Orchard Road was half of what December typically gets in the entire month.Okay, let me deconstruct that for you. In the context of all the flooding events that occurred in the past year, the underlying message from the Straits Times is:
Between 2.20pm and 5.20pm, 152.8mm of rain fell in the area. The long-term average for December - the wettest month in the entire year - is 287.4mm."
1. The rain on 23 December was really, really extraordinary.
2. Don't blame the government for the floods at Orchard.
But was the rain on 23 December really that extraordinary? Was the flood at Orchard all that different from all those many floods that we have seen in the past few years, in different parts of Singapore? Including Orchard Road itself?
To understand what a "typical" December rainfall is really like, we can investigate the source of the ST's claim. It comes from the PUB press release on 30 December. The PUB states:
"On the afternoon of 23 Dec 2011, a total of 152.8mm of rain fell from 2.20pm to 5.20pm at the Orchard Road area. This is equivalent to about half the average monthly total (287.4mm) of rain recorded for the entire month of December over the last 142 years (1869 to 2010)."So their idea of typical December rainfall is based on the average December rainfall over the past 142 years. Dating back to the time when Lee Kuan Yew's father's father's father had just emigrated to Singapore.
Rainfall levels over the past 142 years may be of some meteorological interest to the meterologists. To the general public, it can't be. Singapore has been suffering from floods for the past few years now, and even prime shopping areas and tourist attractions like Orchard Road are getting hit. This is NOT the first time in recent memory that Orchard Road is getting hit.
To the PUB:
We don't care what happened 142 years ago. We don't even care what happened 50 or 30 years ago. Singapore has a flood problem TODAY. And it is your responsibility to fix it. Even if global warming is causing climate change and heavier rains nowadays, it is STILL your responsibility to fix the flood problem.
You should spend less time worrying about how to protect your public image. And more time actually working to solve the flood problem. You'll probably make more progress that way. And the people of Singapore will appreciate it. So please stop being stupid, and go and do the right thing.