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24 May 2019
Prime Minister Office
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Rot and decay in our society

We have to stop the rot and decay that has been eroding our society for the past one or two decades.

This rot is manifested in some incidents that happens every day. It has become the accepted norm. 

Let me quote an incident. I returned to Singapore from Johore and cleared through Tuas CIQ. The automated gates were working well, so I cleared within a minute. 

My companion, who holds a non-Singapore passport, had to go through the manual queue. There must be more than 100 people in that queue. Only three immigration counters were open and the processing was very slow.

I observed that the officers were not bothered that the queue was getting longer and the travelers had been waiting a long time. Two other officers were on duty to watch the crowd but could not help in hastening the clearance. My companion was finally cleared after 75 minutes.

There was no big inflow of travelers on that day. The slow processing was most likely due to the lack of manpower, the slow processing and the indifferent attitude of the people in charge.

This is not a recent incident. It has been happening for many years. The excuse given was the lack of manpower. 

There are many graduates who are unemployed and had to make a living by being a Grab drive. Why was it not possible to employ more immigration officers? If the pay or the terms of employment are unattractive, they can be revised and improved.

With the CCTV, it should surely be possible for the long queue to be observed by the ICA HQ. Could the senior people in charge respond? Could the supervisors in the CIQ take charge and find ways to speed up the processing?

Do we still need travelers to complete the white immigration card which has been discontinued in many countries, including nearby countries, for years? This could also reduce the processing time. 

Has the rot in our public service become some bad that this problem could not be dealt with?

I am afraid that the rot has spread to the wider society. I have many comments posted in my social media page that it is all right for the foreigners to spend a long time to clear the immigration queue, as long as the locals are given priority. I find this kind of attitude to be very bad, very unfair and damaging to our future. 

There are other people who said that it is a deliberate attempt to discourage Singaporeans from traveling to shop in Malaysia. These comments come from people who are incapable of thinking. The comment is not in accordance with the facts. As a local I cleared the immigration within one minute.

They have now adopted the habit of making comments without any basis in fact. 

The kind of nonsensical comments and views have become quite common. I am afraid that it reflects the extent of the rot in our society.

This rot will take a long time to be corrected. We have to start first by recognising the problem. 

Tan Kin Lian

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