11 May, 2006

Public Transport Stinks

On top of being cheap, there may be a good reason that the independent jeepney is a popular form of transit in the Philippines. Most public transit still leaves something to be desired. For example, as illustrates, you can still get open-air seating on a jeepney. Meanwhile, Manila’s bus drivers are being .:

 55 137824405 5025Dbf015MANILA (Reuters) - Bus drivers negotiating the sweltering streets of Manila have a new thing to stress about — their armpits.

Faced with complaints from commuters fed up with the stench at the front of the bus, taxi and train, Manila authorities have reminded drivers to wash and deodorize daily during the heat of the summer.
“We understand that drivers must earn money to support themselves and their respective families,” said Bayani Fernando, chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority. “It is only right that in return, these drivers must observe proper hygiene.
“If they have body odor or armpit odor, ask the advice of doctors for treatment. But I think if they only take a bath every day, and maybe they can use “tawas” or deodorant, then there would be no problem.”
Temperatures in the sprawling Philippine capital regularly hit the high 30s Celsius from mid-March to mid-May.
Some of the estimated 30,000 public drivers often strip off to beat the heat but Fernando reminded them to maintain decorum.
“They must also refrain from wearing slippers and shorts,” Fernando said.

(Via Carl)

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by @ 11:39 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Philippines

Political Intimidation in Singapore

Torn in Manila is a friend of James Gomez - the Singapore opposition activist currently being threatened with criminal charges by Singapore authorities. He offers a must-read essay on the insanity of the Lee dynasty’s crusade against the opposition, which contains an impressive anecdote about Gomez..:

James GomezI knew James when we were both postgraduate students in London in the mid-1990s. He’s a likeable and friendly sort of guy, who hardly fitted the stereotype of an exiled agitator. But then, as we know, it doesn’t take much to be a radical in the island republic.

I remember one story James told me that sums up his homeland quite well. He was president of the student union at the National University of Singapore (which is, by the way, quite one of the scariest tertiary institutions in the world – with hordes of fresh students all dressed exactly like little adults, wearing white shirts and black pants). James felt that such a huge university (it currently has over 30,000 students) should have at least one bar and set about persuading the university administration to let him establish one. After many lengthy meetings, the union finally wrung a concession out of the administrators: the cafeteria would serve beer for three hours on Fridays. The committee members of the student union traipsed down on the first Friday to witness the refreshment of their thirsty fellow students, as they were to do for the remaining Fridays that term. And do you know many of NUS’s tens of thousands of students took advantage of this new facility? Nada, wala, zilch. Fewer than 10 students dared to be seen associating with such a radical move. A better example of the famous Singapore “policeman in the head” it would be hard to find.
The greatest irony is that the “crime” James Gomez is accused of perpetrating is “criminal intimidation” of the election department. For the bullying Singapore government to accuse a single opposition candidate of “intimidation” – that’s just hilarious.

Whatever one’s feelings about the Worker’s Party, any man who can get beer sold on a stuffy campus like NUS is deserving of support.
Also see Torn’s comment on Singapore’s Marxist Conspiracy.

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by @ 10:03 pm. Filed under Singapore, Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia

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