Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Must We Wait For Another Tragedy?

When I posted my very first article in this blog, I highlighted the case of a Straits Times reader who wrote to the forum page complaining about numerous karaoke lounges and massage parlours that have opened in his neighbourhood in Joo Chiat. Everybody knows, he said, what really goes on behind the closed doors of these places. There had also been numerous newspaper reports about the problem of Chinese sex workers and Chinese ‘study mamas’. I have also seen 2 TV documentaries highlighting this problem. One was Get Real on Channel News Asia. The other was on Channel U.

Generally, one can conclude that this was a problem all Singaporeans knew about. The newspapers have reported several arrests and checks carried out by the police to tackle this sleaze problem. But by and large, the problem did not go away.

And then we have the sensational case involving the
fatal stabbing of a Chinese masseuse in Ang Mo Kio two weeks ago. Again we find newspaper reports like this one - TODAY: Sleaze comes to the heartlands - appearing. This seemed to have worked finally. Overnight, it seems, laws were passed to regulate and control the operation of massage parlours and health centres. Last weekend, the police raided 129 massage parlours island-wide and numerous arrests were made.

Two questions come to mind.

1. Does it appear to you that our authorities like to wait until a high profile tragedy takes place before they will really take serious action to resolve a problem that many people already knew and complained about?

2. How long will the solutions mentioned above work before the situation regresses back to that before?

I am reminded of another similar problem – that of reckless driving and speeding by heavy vehicles on our highways.

Do you remember a high profile accident involving the death of the wife of one of our ministers-of-state some years ago? The accident took place near the Tuas checkpoint. Although the lorry driver was acquitted of any wrong doing, this case led to a number of bookings of speeding heavy vehicles. I recall that new regulations were passed requiring heavy vehicles to install speed-limiting devices. Not much have been heard about this issue since. Occasionally you still see someone writing to the press to complain about the problem of reckless driving involving heavy vehicles. It usually receives a standard reply from the traffic police accompanied by the usual statistics about the number of people caught speeding and so on.

I hate to say this. But I believe this is another tragedy that will be repeated before long.

Anyone who travels on our highways will know that the situation has not improved one bit. In fact, it appears to have worsened. Every time, I travel to Jurong Island, I cannot help thinking that one of these days, those speeding trucks with their loads of dangerous chemicals, are going to succeed in doing what our JI and Al Qaeda friends could not; that is to cause a disaster like the one caused by the speeding train in Spain just 2 days ago (ABC News: At Least 41 Killed in Spain Train Accident).

Maybe only then will we see some real action.

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