The ERP System

June 20, 2008

Here comes the depressing news. With effect from 07/07/2008, the Land Transport Authority (LTA), in conjunction with the Singapore government, is attempting to further burn deeper holes out of the pockets of local motorists. Escalating fuel costs aside, motorists now have to contend with both higher ERP rates AND new ERP gantries around the city centre.

For the benefit of Singaporeans who have been living in a slumber, as well as for our overseas counterparts who may find it bewildering why complaints about Singapore’s road and transportation system have been rife lately, the ERP stands out Electronic Road Pricing, designed to keep Extremely Rude People who road-hogs off the roads so as to regulate traffic during peak hours.

Sounds good? Perhaps, but the question remains whether the ERP is actually suffice in fulfilling its role in controlling traffic. Statistics from the Straits Times have shown that average speeds along North Bridge Road and South Bridge Road have dropped from about 25km/h in 2002 to 19km/h last month during peak hours of 6pm to 8pm.

So, will the latest review of ERP rates actually work?

Considering the fact that Singaporeans (as well as many people around the world) suffer from this innate disorder known otherwise as the complain-about-new-system-yet-still-revert-to-the-old-ways-because-it’s-after-all-the-way-of-life-so-what-if-it’s-pricier syndrome (for a case in point, look at the nil impact on passenger frequency despite the hike in taxi fares a few months ago), this will probably end up a red herring.

In addition, this does not seem to go along well with the government’s efforts to promote healthier family lifestyles. Picture a car owner (with a family) who drives to work. In a bid to escape ERP charges, said car owner decides to work overtime (earning more money simultaneously) and settle his dinner in the vicnity, before driving home after the ERP operations cease at 8pm. As if this shall go a long way in boosting the floundering birth rates of the nation. Of course, said car owner may decide to leave his vehicle in the car park and use the public transport instead, but he’ll end up having to squeeze his way home on the MRT. Despite the LTA’s promised increase in frequency of the trains, they’re still as packed as sardines during peak hours. So why forego the comfort of one’s own car for public transport if one can still afford it?

Nonetheless, all the ERP brouhaha has resulted in several pictorial spoofs attempting to make a mockery of the entire system:

Singapore 2010 - An ERP Spoof

Image credited to

I read with interest the cover story on LIFE (Thursday, June 19th) which featured how local arts groups have deviated away from the conventional sources for sponsorship and are increasingly looking into companies which on first glance, have nothing to do with the arts.

As an ardent supporter of the local arts scene, and having dealt rather heavily in drama-related activities during my schooling days (which included massive sourcing for sponsorships for our theatrical productions), I suppose I can somehow identify with the plights which the local arts groups are in when it comes to funding.

Which is why, it is a beckoning on the horizon to read the article, on how companies such as Simmons (which backed The Wild Rice’s production “Beauty World”) and Old Chang Kee (which supported Mandarin musical “If There’re Seasons”) are willing to support the local arts scene, considering how competition for funding from traditional sources such as the National Arts Council (NAC), and the Lee Foundation is becoming increasingly fierce.

Schools will have to contend with professional arts groups, and vice versa, for these sponsorships.

Of course, this is not a one-way street and the situation has to be win-win. After all, the reality that there is no free lunch in this world remains. That is why it remains a source of concern that “it is hard to target big sponsors when there are bigger arts fish vying for the same funds”, as Ms Melissa Lim of The Necessary Stage (TNS) aptly puts it.

Yet, it is still worth a shot, and I will urge schools and burgeoning arts groups to send out sponsorship requests – you will never know whether you’ll receive if you don’t ask. The key lies in the attempting to work out joint promotional activities such that both ends benefit from the publicity.

With a whole new category of resources to be tapped, Singaporeans can certainly look forward to a more massive variety of events in the long run, don’t you think?

PS: Readers who deal with the arts are encouraged to share their experiences in getting sponsorships by leaving a comment here!


The summer blockbuster movie season is here again, and THE AMOEBA REPUBLIC is right in the midst of the action! We’ve updated our “MOVIES” page with not one, not two, but three movie reviews of three blockbusters which I’m sure, many have been waiting with bated breaths.

KUNG FU PANDA” is perhaps the most anticipated animation blockbuster this summer, in the heat of the Chinese fever raging around the world due to the impendng Beijing Olympics games. Featuring a star-studded cast ranging from Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Dustin Hoffman etc, it promises to be wholesome family fun. Read how this DreamWorks feature fares with us!

THE HAPPENING” is critically-acclaimed director’s M. Night Shyamalan’s latest offering after the box office dud that was “LADY IN THE WATER” last year. Will he rediscover his golden touch that he showcased in classics such as “THE SIXTH SENSE”? Read how this environmental parable fares with us!

GET SMART“, on the other hand, is a 21st century remake of a popular television sitcom of the same name, during the 1960s. This remake features a relatively strong cast such as Steve Carrell (Evan Almighty, TV’s The Office), Anne Hathaway (The Devil Likes Prada), Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine) etc, in a comedic-thriller turn. Read how this remake fares with us!