Ponding at Liat Towers vs. Flooding at Orchard Road. Got that big a difference meh?

Mr Wang rips apart PUB’s statements on the floods:

It rained heavily on 23 December and there was flooding in several parts of Singapore. However, the PUB claimed that there was no flooding at Orchard Road. I quote the exact words from their press release: “There was no flooding at Orchard Road.

I don’t understand how government authorities in Singapore can tell such blatant lies. It is shocking and it makes me worry about what this country is coming to. It is normal for a country to have problems, and I think it is ok to say, “We have a problem, and we will be taking action to solve it.” But to tell an outright lie, such as “There was no flooding at Orchard Road” … What does that tell you about our government?

There’s more in the link so do head over and read Mr Wang’s take on it.

For me, the worrisome part is PUB’s description of the event (taken from Mr Wang’s post):

“On the afternoon of 23 Dec 2011, a total of 152.8mm of rain fell from 2.20pm to 5.20pm at the Orchard Road area. This is equivalent to about half the average monthly total (287.4mm) of rain recorded for the entire month of December over the last 142 years (1869 to 2010).”

There is no reason to doubt that their data is wrong but them highlighting this statistic brings up a few more questions:

1. Is there a ‘new normal’ that PUB’s not prepared for?

After all, last time Policemen wore shorts and we didn’t have 5 million+ residents on this island. Therefore if the

2. Is PUB’s PR team qualified to handle a PR crisis of this sort?

The most recent event was certainly not a ‘one in 50 year event’ as the Orchard Road floods started becoming more apparent during Dr Yaacob Ibrahim’s tenure as the Environment minister. So what have they learnt since then? Why obfuscate matters by saying that the most recent events on 23 Dec 2011 wasn’t flooding but ponding even if PUB may be technically correct?

In fact, the best thing, in my opinion, that PUB could have done was to acknowledge the floods and focus on emphasizing the measures taken (even if these measures take time to implement) since these events started. You’ll see in their press release that measures were mentioned but only in one paragraph right at the end of the press release (link here) which comes right after the para intended to be technically correct but for all purposes, totally useless (emphasis mine).

There was no flooding at Orchard Road. However, water ponded at the open area of Liat Towers, the underpass between Lucky Plaza and Ngee Ann City, and the basement of Lucky Plaza due to the sustained heavy downpour.

Rochor Canal is currently being upgraded to improve the drainage system serving Cambridge Road, Newton Circus and junction of Moulmein Road and Thomson Road in front of United Square. The works commenced in Oct 2011 and are expected to be completed in Jan 2014. The Bukit Timah Canal between Wilby Road to Maple Road is being widened and works will be completed by Dec 2012. The drains at Wee Nam Road will also be expanded by 2013.

I’m wondering why is it so hard for PUB (or any other organization for that matter) to say sorry (even though the direct cause may be beyond their immediate control) , ask people for their understanding that while they cannot control the weather, they have already taken measures which will be completed by such and such date.

Methinks PUB’s PR department needs more Emotionally Intelligent people.