Monday, June 7, 2010

Train blast, derailment kills at least 65 in Singapore

Bomb derailed a MRT train on a busy Monday morning in Singapore, triggering a crash onto Paya Lebar station platform that killed at least 65 people and injured 200 more, officials said.

Yes, this sounds horrific and also yes, I lied. I must apologise for making you believe this horrible lie for a moment, but it is a disaster that could have happened. On May 17 to be precise.

By now most of you must have heard of the famous duo, the Swiss and the British, who have cut through the fence of the SMRT Changi depot (opposite the Singapore Expo) and spray-painted graffiti on one side of a train. That happened on May 16. For the next two days, the train was business as usual with its new graffiti till someone reported the mischief.

One month later now, the news of this redecorated train is reported extensively over major newspapers, with headlines like: Swiss national charged for vandalising SMRT train, Briton may have left for HK, Swiss man charged with vandalising train released on bail. Apparently these two foreigners are at fault. But are they the only one at fault? What happened to the headline "What happened to our security?"? We have heard enough about these two guys. Isn't it about time that we hear from SMRT?

  • Why is it so easy to sneak into a SMRT depot?
    The duo is believed to have cut through the fences topped with barbed wire. Is that all there is to stop trespassers into the SMRT depot? I am not expecting the SMRT to install touch-and-be-electrocuted kind of fences (though sometimes it does feel that way, our gahmen is still not as bad as the Nazis). Nor am I expecting SMRT to have the kind of budget to install pressure sensitive floors and security laser beams. But shouldn't there be more barriers before they reach the SMRT trains, like some gates with locks?

  • Where were the security guards?
    I do like to assume that SMRT did employ some security guards to look after those empty trains. So where were they when the duo took their own sweet time to redecorate the train? If the duos are stupid enough to be doing graffiti in a country where vandalism is punishable by caning, just like rapists, I do not think that they are smart enough to monitor the security guards' work shift for months before planning their "attack". So what were the security guards doing then? Having coffee breaks? Sleeping on their jobs? Or were they busy making rounds at other areas of the depot because only two poor security guards were left to petrol the whole depot after restructuring to cut cost?

  • Why didn't any SMRT employee notice the graffiti?
    The drivers were not aware because they are not required to check the trains before driving them out of the depot, and their role and responsibility is just to drive from station A to station Z? All staff on the platforms were not aware because they are not required to check the trains coming into their stations, and their role and responsibility is just to keep an eye on suspicious terrorist-look-alikes and to ensure that passengers stand behind the yellow line? All staff in the station controls did not see the graffiti because their security monitors are in black and white?

And why are we not seeing these questions raised on any of the newspapers? No matter how good looking the Swiss guy is, sooner or later the readers will get sick of his photograph (which by the way looks oddly well-taken unlike the usual criminal photos because that photograph comes from his Facebook profile, thanks to Mr Wang's observation). So when are the newspapers going to interview the spokesperson for SMRT on the security gap?

Oh, no, I'm not going to question why didn't the public notice or report the graffiti until two days later. They might have mistaken that as SMRT's Marketing gimmicks, just like how SingPost vandalised their own postboxes to promote YOG.

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