12 May 2012, 10.18AM
I REFER to the recent stoppages in our Mass Rapid Transit system.
Whilst the failures may be attributable to faults in components and subsystems, deficiencies in design and construction, wear and tear of mechanical parts as well as the maintenance regime, the underpinning support should not be overlooked: Competent engineering and technical manpower.
In our early days of industrialisation, the emphasis was on training a skilled workforce, especially engineers and technicians. Engineering was the preferred career for many students.
They would form the backbone of our skilled industrial workforce.
The last 20 years have seen an erosion of interest in engineering and technical studies, partly due to the growth of non-engineering sectors. But the perception that engineering is neither glamorous nor
can make you rich has a considerable dampening effect.
In fact, many qualified engineers have hung up their degrees and joined the get rich quick industry like the life insurance and property. One engineer was featured in the Sunday Tines Invest page as successful life insurance agent. He said that as engineer he was not able to become rich but as insurance agent he could get rich and become millionaire fast. Is life insurance a get rich quick industry? Is this the reason why graduates and engineers are joining the industry? It is no surprise that MAS is cleaning up the misperception and rampant unethical practices.
It is ironical that insurance agents can earn more and faster income than professional engineers, doctors and lawyers without the necessary professional qualifications and without the strict code of ethics to govern their behavior.
We should return engineering education to pre-eminence and offer graduating engineers and
technicians a fair and rewarding career and do something about the multi- level insurance business which is attracting people with this get rich quick allure. In fact one CEO of a local insurance company is worried that if MAS makes sweeping changes the life insurance industry cannot attract people who want to get rich quick..
Only then can we be assured of a steady supply of workers who understand the nature and
complexities of the system, who pre-empt problems from arising and escalating, who are quick to diagnose faults in both hardware and software and are motivated to restore the system swiftly even as they work under time pressure and harsh conditions.
More importantly without having to rely on unreliable FTs.
This would go a long way towards ensuring the smooth running of essential public
services such as the MRT and Light Rail Transit.