A while ago, I started penning short snippets of curious observations on my daily MRT commutes. It’s quite interesting to watch people do their own things, thinking they are in a world of their own. Except they are less than an arm’s length away. In fact, just this morning I wrote this:
The young girl in front of me is scrutinizing all her friends' Whatsapp profile pictures and switching back to her own after surveying about five. I must say, she looks …different.
Heh. I know I should be minding my own business but there’s really nowhere else to look when the MRT is packed and I have to choose between someone’s wet hair and their tablet screen.
The lady beside me on the train is plugged in, watching a drama on her phone. For the past 5 minutes, all I see are close ups of shocked faces.
Unfortunately my stop came all too soon before we got to the next scene. It pains me to even think of the nail-biting drama I might have missed. I suppose this is the only downside of the connectivity I enjoy.
Maybe I’ll have longer stories to tell when the High Speed Rail (HSR) between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore is completed in 2026. This July, we signed a memorandum of understanding with Malaysia to build a 350km HSR that will bring both countries closer in many ways. It’s truly a milestone in our history.
There will be two tracks linking eight stops – Singapore, Iskandar Puteri, Batu Pahat, Muar, Ayer Keroh, Seremban, Putrajaya and KL. Over on our side, the stop in Singapore will be located in Jurong East, at the current site of the Jurong Country Club.
With a top speed of up to 300km/h, the travel time between KL and Singapore is estimated at 90min, including the 10-15min required to clear customs. I’m not so sure about the last part, especially on the eve of long weekends.
Prime Minister Lee said, “The HSR will physically link our two capitals — just a short train ride away, draw our peoples and economies together. We will think of Singapore-KL the same way as they think of London-Paris, Taipei-Kaohsiung, or Tokyo-Osaka,”
Echoing him, Prime Minister Najib said, "Once completed, Malaysians will be able to have nasi lemak in Kuala Lumpur, close deals over chilli crab in Singapore and be back for a dinner of rendang with the family."
It’s a very real convenience that is not limited to food. You could get your hair done in JB, ring up a few jackpot machines in Genting and come back home for a quick Saturday getaway. Beyond the lifestyle conveniences, the HSR will have tremendous impact on other things like the bus services that ply the KL – Golden Mile route. And what will happen to the pit stops with the crummy toilets that you endure after four hours on the bus? I hope the Ramly burgers find their new place at one of the eight HSR stations.
I’m definitely looking forward to telling new stories when this national milestone comes along in ten years’ time. But for now, we might yet be witness to another milestone this year with the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Team Singapore will be fielding 25 athletes in the Olympic Games and 11 para athletes in the Paralympic Games. Hopes are especially high for golden boy Joseph Schooling, who broke Michael Phelps’ 100m butterfly record during a swimming meet in Austin, Texas this June.
Taking place from 5 August to 21 August, you can be certain we’ll cheer on our athletes as one people during our National Day celebrations. This year, NDP returns to the National Stadium site after ten years. The new venue will allow innovative show elements such as 3D projection, indoor fireworks and aerial performers, strung from the dome-shaped roof. Read more about our take on the NDP show this year.
As we come together across the world to mark our 51st birthday, don’t forget to share your pictures with us on Facebook with the hashtag #overseassingaporean and this year’s #ndp2016. Especially if you received one of our National Day resource packs, tag us!
Before I go, here’s a final MRT tale that you might enjoy.
There's a spider crawling on the fringe of the lady who's napping in front of me on the MRT. This could potentially be exciting, at least for the spider.