March 22, 2010

MRT Screen Doors: (Insert Synonym For Stupid Here)

Filed under: Uncategorized — theinkhorn @ 11:16 am

Very often, in this country, you see some really bad decisions being made, some really stupid things being said and some really dim actions being carried out. So much so, that it has become the norm. It no longer surprised me that much. I must admit though, when i first saw the MRT screen doors, I was blown away by the tornado of stupidity.

This article on Asiaone today reports yet another case of suicide via train. The article also mentions a STOMP reader writing to the website and complaining about how the screen doors should be up sooner. I want to say that I’m surprised by the level of ignorance, but coming from a STOMP reader, it really isn’t all that surprising.

The “half-height” screen doors stand at an intimidating 1.5 metres. Supposedly capable of “enhancing commuter safety at above-ground MRT stations, and aimed at preventing people from falling onto the tracks”, these screen doors will cost $126 million to manufacture and put up. That concept is so dense, I can hardly contain my laughter.

First, let’s talk about the height. 1.5 metres. Is it enough to “deter” potential suicides? The average height of Singaporeans as measured in 2003 is 1.7 metres for men and 1.6 metres for women. Given the mandatory national service we have to serve, in addition to the ten reservist cycles after our service, we should be fit enough to at least push ourselves up and over the platform. As for the women, I have full confidence in your ability to slip off your heels and use the friction generated by rubbing your foot against the glass panels to climb your way to the other side. And if all else fails, there is no law against bringing stools into MRT stations.

If the Government really wanted to deter potential suicides, the screen doors should be the height of the doors at the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. There’s your deterrent. And if people complain about lack of air flow, drill holes into the doors. Be sure to make them small enough so that no one will be able to climb them.

Second, let’s talk about the reason. It is beyond stupid to even think that these half height screen doors will prevent suicides. As i mentioned above, if the Government had any sense left in them, they would’ve made the doors taller. So why then? Why spend the $126 million such useless equipment?

I believe it is much more than just retail therapy. I’m also going to give the government the benefit of the doubt this time; I do not believe they’re actually THIS stupid. The reason they are building the screen doors is because they don’t want us to commit suicide… via train. They don’t want us to get smashed by the train and have our guts all over the tracks… Because it hurts business. Because it slows the country down. The MRT ferries around roughly 1.5 million passengers per day as of 2009, most of whom work in the Central Business District, where all the money comes from. Suppose someone decides he wants to die in front of the morning crowd. The resulting delay will surely cause a drop in productivity for the day. Now imagine if we have one per week. GDP is going to dip like Leeds United’s fortunes after 2001.

In a different scenario, let’s say someone decides to die in the middle of the day. Not as many people around this time. The trauma will remain with those who witness it. Now let’s imagine again that we have one per week. How long will it take to completely traumatize Singaporeans? And when that happens, will they ever take the train again?

It’s not that they don’t want us to die. No, not at all. It’s just that they don’t want us to die and inconvenience them in the process. Sure, they prevent accidents. But then again, if you choose to ignore the yellow lines, the constant warnings over the PA system AND the staff walking around, ensuring you stand at a suitable distance from tracks, if you choose to ignore all those warning signs, you probably deserve to die anyway. If your kids decide to run around and play, then it is your fault for not disciplining them. Their blood should  be on your hands, and you should be responsible enough to acknowledge it.

Finally, let’s talk about the consequences. I’ve noticed that since the screen doors have been put up, people have less qualms about pushing those in front towards the edge. Where previously a risk of death or injury existed, all potential has now been eliminated, and along with it, the grace and common sense of the people. The screen doors have turned commuters into impatient, crude and discourteous animals who won’t hesitate to asphyxiate those in front of them by crushing them against those panels.

It is typical of this government. It is the gum situation all over again. Instead of allowing people to learn their lessons, they put a cage around us and expect us to follow suit because “it is for our own good”. even though it clearly isn’t. And they rely on the imbeciles who read STOMP to voice their concerns on speed of building, instead of effectiveness. I have no doubt at all that this is an immense waste of time and money. Time and money that could be better spent on, for instance, building shelters for the homeless. But hey, who cares about the homeless. They can’t afford to take the train anyway.



  1. The screen doors act as a deterrence. In the case of people having suicidal thoughts, usually having a deterrence in place is enough to prevent them from doing so. Without a wall, people will just jump and die even before regretting doing so. Besides, if you see someone attempting to climb the glass wall, you will definitely try to pull him or her back.

    Comment by Anon — March 23, 2010 @ 1:22 pm

  2. I really don’t like that word. Deterrence. If one is determined to die, one will find a way. If someone decides he genuinely wants to spend his last moments watching a train approaching him head on, he’d pick a good time to do so, where no one will be around to stop him. Deterrents don’t work because there are always loopholes.

    Should the government seal up all windows in living quarters, or replace concrete ground with airbags? How about banning cars, since someone may jump in front of one. Perhaps they could ban bleach, rat poison, gas, ropes, chairs, knives etc? Instead of tackling the root causes, and I honestly believe that financial difficulty is one of them, they have chosen to build ridiculously short screen doors as a short term solution. A notable trend.

    The point is that the government are treating us like children, and while i find it hard to ignore the immaturity of our population, I do not appreciate it one bit. If they do wish to solve the problem, how about getting the ministers to take a pay cut, and using that money to help the poor? That would be a mature and more intelligent solution, no?

    Comment by theinkhorn — March 23, 2010 @ 1:39 pm

  3. And if you actually see someone in the act of climbing over these panels, would you stop them? I hope the answer is yes, in which case, 1.5m should be more than sufficient.

    Comment by CKL — March 23, 2010 @ 1:44 pm

  4. Of course I would. But, CKL, that only proves one thing. The doors only work if there are people around, and they spot it, and they care enough to stop it. If we’re going to build doors that rely on US to work, then what’s the point? Is it really efficient and useful?

    It only serves to prove that the government are not interested in stopping suicides. They are interested in ensuring that the transport system runs smoothly so that people can get to where they want to be, and make money, and they’re interested in making people think that they care enough to try and stop suicides.

    Comment by theinkhorn — March 23, 2010 @ 1:51 pm

  5. are you open enough to hear why this is the most stupid thing I heard today?

    Comment by BryanT — March 23, 2010 @ 8:50 pm

  6. 看看其他国家的地铁设备就会明白为何这些门是不必要的浪费。新加坡人永远不会成长。

    Comment by jkhsedbe — March 23, 2010 @ 9:17 pm

  7. By all means Bryan. How can I say no to that?

    Comment by theinkhorn — March 23, 2010 @ 10:49 pm

  8. jkhsedbe – Mind showing some examples? You are right about the last part.

    Comment by Alpha-Omega — March 24, 2010 @ 12:33 pm

  9. “If the Government really wanted to deter potential suicides, the screen doors should be the height of the doors at the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. There’s your deterrent.”

    This comment made my day.

    Comment by Neb — March 29, 2010 @ 1:21 pm

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