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Singapore public transport system should be run by government: Mahbubani

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Privatisation of Singapore's public transport system has gone "too far", and the system should be run by the government instead of private operators, a leading academic said on Thursday.

PRIVATISATION of Singapore's public transport system has gone "too far", and the system should be run by the government instead of private operators, a leading academic said on Thursday.

In doing so, Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, called on Singapore to not be "a prisoner of old economic ideas", and have the "political courage" to make changes to the idea of the role privatisation plays in the country's economy.

"Let us consider the possibility that we may have gone too far, and we have become a prisoner of old economic ideas," Prof Mahbubani said. "And to suggest one concrete area where we have gone too far is in the area of public transport."

Prof Mahbubani was speaking as a panellist at the Singapore Economy Policy Forum.

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He said that public transport should be a public good, but Singapore has decided that it should be privatised.

This meant that the operators are more focused on quarterly results and less concerned with long-term maintenance, resulting in public transport woes.

Prof Mahbubani also talked about two other key challenges that Singapore faces in the future. One of them is the geopolitical rivalry between the United States and China, and the other is the strategic importance of Asean to Singapore's survival.

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