Monday, April 30, 2007

Duopoly public transportation, serving public, or is it truely so?

In Singapore, there are basically two categories of public transport, namely Taxi and MRT (railway, subway) + buses. If you are wondering why I group up MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) and buses in the same category, you must have not known Singapore. Let me explain. In this little red dot, you have SBSTransit and SMRT running railway system called MRT. In the same little red dot, the bus system is run by.... you guess.. SMRT and SBSTransit. So, it's a duopoly. Wherever and whenever you take MRT or bus, your money will goes only in possible 2 ways direction. Not so much with the taxi, because Singapore has a rather fair share of taxi fleets.

A year ago, this SMRT company complained that they haven't hiked up the railway and fare price for some years due to the so-called slowing down economy. Considering that economy is peaking up, the so-called government body, whatever it is, allows them to increase the fare. Stop for awhile and think, doesn't it sound that the company think that bus and railway fare need to increase consistently? Does it sound that the government body think so as well? You bet, they agree.

So, after raising the fare, SMRT reported a Q4 earning, ending in March 07, to increase by a whooping 80.3% to S$36.2 million. Woot, so nice to have SMRT stocks huh? the full earning per share rose by 34%! Basically, the increase fare seems to have help them boost the profit. Considering that the company is already reporting a possible increase in operating cost once again, it seems entirely possible for them to apply for further price hike and get the government body to agree upon it by end of 07 or early next year. Where does the "serving public" part being the one of the two railway companies? It seems that the key is earning more and more and more profit. Not a single thoughts is spared for the public. Oh, I forget to mention that SBSTransit and SMRT run different routes of railway and buses. Somehow, an amicable solution was struck from an unknown time brokered by an unknown body that both companies should not vie for another. Amazing things that happen in a country who prizes itself for being highly competitive :P

Ah well, readying to empty pocket soon, what else could I do? I need to take the railway and bus anyway :)

Doctorate? Not so soon...

I've been in Singapore for the last 8.5 years, from end of 1998. I've been thankful for the free education I get from the Government to take up Mechanical and Production Engineering and then from the university to attempt for a doctorate degree. Well, I call it an attempt because although I have submitted my thesis, it might not have gone out to the external examiner. Therefore, it might not get examined yet.... even after having submitted it 2 months ago. The university requires my supervisor to furnish a details of 4 possible examiners, who are supposed to be better in research than him (my supervisor). It somehow seems hard to do so, well, depends on who he wants to get. Imagine having Stephen Hawking as your PhD's supervisor and he is supposed to find FOUR people better than him in cosmology. Honestly, this university of mine does seem to have a weird rule, so to speak. Fortunately, my supervisor is in no way even 1/100 of Hawking. Hehehe... but still, it seems to really take him forever to come out with that four names, even after he asked me to furnish him with the names, which I did, 2 months ago, once again. Therefore, my degree is still an attempt.

Ironically, even after one's thesis goes out to overseas for examination by the chosen two out of four examiners, the thesis will take roughly 8 months to a year before one gets back some sort of review. It does takes quite a long time to get a PhD degree in Singapore, at least in my university (rank 40++ in the world). After that review, one still need to "fix" the thesis and wait for a call for oral defense. Only after a pass oral defense then that one can have the degree.

Ah well, I still need to build up confidence for the degree. After all, people expects a doctor-to-be to produce journal papers, which I don't have. Having a half-hearted attempt in microbiology, as an engineer, does provide an uber big hole in possible publications. Submitted a paper to engineering journal, rejected and called not engineering enough, submitted another to science-based journal, rejected and called not science enough. I am waiting for a second review for my paper submitted to a microbiology journal. It tooks 7 months for the first review and it's already 8 months from my submission of reviewed draft. O my... science does take time, huh? How could one read for an UPDATED and HIGH-END scientific updates from journal if one's work take forever to be published or even rejected? I wonder...