I’m not sure if I should spill the beans or should I just let you guys read the letter first. So, the easiest thing is to let you guys read it for yourself and when you are ready to look at all the self-pwning statements, you can continue to click to read more. =)

First, the original complaint letter.

Insert graciousness into URA’s grace period

RECENTLY, I was taught the realities of official graciousness by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). On April 23, in response to a request by Singapore General Hospital (SGH) for blood platelets, I went to the hospital about 11am. To my chagrin, my usual EPS (ERP Payment System) Carpark H was undergoing some work, and the other carparks were full.

After circling for a while, I was lucky to get a lot in Carpark B, a coupon carpark farthest from my destination.

The donation was not routine either, through no fault of SGH staff. For the first time in my donation record, there was a hitch and I was stuck with tubes in my arm. I was in no position to return to my car to display fresh coupons.

I was hesitant to ask SGH staff to help with my parking situation, for I knew I should not take them away from� more important matters. At the end of my donation, two machines later, I asked for an SGH excuse chit, and went on my way.

I did get a parking ticket, and wrote in to appeal. My friends and I were confident the URA would let me off.

A $10 fine is not a large sum, but I hoped for some graciousness. Last Thursday, the URA wrote to tell me I had exceeded the ‘grace period’ and had to pay up within the next seven days.

What is a ‘grace period’, I ask, for a person tied up in tubes, or for a dialysis patient hooked to a malfunctioning machine?

Is the ‘grace period’ different in different circumstances? What is the grace period for someone who parked his car, dove into traffic to save a child, and slipped into a coma for a week? Are the grace periods all the same?

I have paid my fine, to avoid this being seen as just of self-interest, but would like to hear the URA’s point of view, or what graciousness it can show.

Tan Tatt Si

Now, the reply from URA.

Grace period given, but one hour is too long

I REFER to last Wednesday’s letter, ‘Insert graciousness into URA’s grace period’ by Mr Tan Tatt Si.

Mr Tan said he parked his car at Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Carpark B when he went to Singapore General Hospital (SGH) on April 23 to donate blood platelets. He said he was delayed in the donation process and was fined $10 for overparking. He felt URA should be gracious and waive his fine.

We appreciate that Mr Tan is a blood platelet donor. This is admirable. In reviewing appeals for waivers of parking fines from motorists, however, URA takes other factors into consideration, besides the fact that the motorist is a blood donor.

First, URA is sympathetic to motorists using this carpark. We understand motorists visiting SGH may be delayed for reasons beyond their control. URA gives a considerable grace period in this carpark to allow motorists to return to their vehicles to drive off or renew their coupons for extended periods of parking.

At the same time, we must ensure that motorists park responsibly, and comply with parking regulations so as not to inconvenience other motorists. We also have to verify any justifications furnished by motorists when reviewing their appeals.

In Mr Tan’s case, he had overparked for more than one hour, which far exceeded the usual grace period there.

We understand a hospital visit for blood platelet donation process normally takes two to three hours. This is made known to the public on SGH’s website and is known to regular donors. Mr Tan displayed a $1 parking coupon with a start time of 11.20am for a one hour parking duration. The carpark is a 10-minute walk from the haematology centre. Based on the record of his visit to the centre, Mr Tan arrived and registered at the centre at 11.15am and completed the process at 2pm.

A parking offence notice was issued to Mr Tan at 1.23pm, after the parking coupon displayed had expired for more than an hour.

In reviewing appeals from motorists for waivers of fines, URA also takes into account the track record of the motorist. If he has a number of parking offences, we tend to view the appeal less favourably. Taking in the circumstances of the case and Mr Tan’s track record, we could not accede to the appeal. Nonetheless, while the fine should be $20 for more than one hour of overparking, we factored in the grace period and fined him only $10.

Lim Eng Chong
Deputy Director (Land Administration, Carparks)
Urban Redevelopment Authority

In URA’s reply, they hinted that Mr Tan should have read up to find out how long the entire donation process will take. Shame on all you guys who tear a 1 hour coupon to plead ignorance. Don’t you know that you should read up the website and brochures that has been so conscientiously printed for you? However, what was "ultimate" was how they mentioned that the coupon that Mr Tan tore was timed at 11:20am while he registered at the center at 11:15am – after a 10 minute walk! This… is "ultimate".

Lastly, URA made special note that "in reviewing appeals from motorists for waivers of fines, URA also takes into account the track record of the motorist. If he has a number of parking offences, we tend to view the appeal less favourably". They went on to note that "taking in the circumstances of the case and Mr Tan’s track record, we could not accede to the appeal. Nonetheless, while the fine should be $20 for more than one hour of overparking, we factored in the grace period and fined him only $10". If what URA stated was the bare facts (and of course they are!), then Mr Tan has succeeded in self pwning himself.

I wonder if the parking attendants really record the coupon timing somewhere. It wasn’t something that I was aware of too.

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 19th May 2008

Reader's Comments

  1. DK | May 19th, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    His argument will be, SGH’s clock, his car’s clock and parking attendant’s clock not in sync. 😛

  2. TedFox | May 19th, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    The parking fines I get these days record down what is the timing of my coupons, and what time I got fined

  3. Aspiring Scientist | May 20th, 2008 at 11:08 am

    got money to buy car, no money to pay for parking 😛

  4. Dailt SG: 20 May 2008 « The Singapore Daily | May 20th, 2008 at 11:54 am

    […] – Watch what you post on your blog – Nomed Letters: It’s all Politics, Stupid! – Simply Jean: ST forum writer self pwned ? Read between the lines in the reply and you’ll know why – the(new)mediaslut: Real or mock, a protest in SG by another other name still requires a police […]

  5. Andrew Tay | May 20th, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    What Lim Eng Chong implied is that Tan could be in more hot soup for cheating when he tore the time tabs on his parking coupon. If Tan persists, Lim can refer the matter to the police. Lim is the kind of of person that will actually do it.

  6. Zhanzhao | May 21st, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    So ironically….. Mr Lim was being gracious to Mr Tan by not putting him to hot soup 😉

  7. Tatt Si | June 25th, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    HI, I’m TattSi, Mr Self-Pwned on Graciousness & Parking.

    Trust me when I say I’m not a masochist, while the exchange made me seem so. ST Forum ‘edited out’ my ‘Complacency’ argument when I attacked ‘Official Graciousness’. My letter wasn’t about my parking – Complacency 1st, Graciousness 2nd.

    My rebuttal was, of course, not printed, resulting in quite a character assassination on me, and no forum for me to air my subsequent views.

    In these days of Mas Selamat’s escape, and ICA letting Mr Ang use the wrong passport, I seriously think civil service has reached a place where efficiency is utmost, but mistakes are acceptable. What can we underlings do ?

    Attached is my original rebuttal. I will post a private mail from URA later, in response to this rebuttal.


    Topic : Grace Period & Graciousness

    I refer to Monday’s letter, “Grace period given, but one hour is too long” by Mr Lim Eng Chong from URA.

    Let me first rebut a few ‘facts’ Mr Lim had in his letter :
    – While the SGH excuse chit noted between 11:15am – 2pm, I parked at 11:20am (attendents in Carpark B at the time), and left at 1:41pm
    – Given that I parked for 2 hr & 21 minutes, factoring 10-minute walk each way and two platelet machines, my routine donation would have been
    ~1 hr
    – SGH website’s ‘2 – 3 hours’ may cover some overheads to err on the safe side, in case donors need the extra time off from employers, and that
    different donors need different recovery times
    – I used to park at Carpark H, which may not be URA administered, and I used to get complimentary parking from SGH. Such is the graciousness
    from SGH.

    Mr Lim’s letter alluded that :
    (a) I cheated 15 minutes on displaying the start time of my parking (calculating backwards from being registered at SGH at 11:15am)
    (b) that I have a poor parking violation record, and might have written numerous times to URA for appeals in the past.

    Point (a) is an insinuation, based on assumptions and not on factual findings, and is the complete opposite of graciousness or benefit of doubt.
    Point (b) is condescending, and also unture. I have my share of parking tickets, and I pay most all of them without a whimper of protest or delay.
    Half of these parking violations were my wife’s, but URA was probably quick to assume that they were all mine.

    The important points are :
    – SGH needs to inform donors of budgeting more time for donations, in order to mobilise more donors to donate safely
    – Track record is used by Mr Lim superfluously, as is grace period. Mr Lim have no specifics that said what kind of track record disqualifies what kind of
    appeals, nor what kind of grace period is tied to what special circumstances. I can understand URA for not publishing this, for fear that this may be
    abused, and for the purpose of maintaining flexibility. It is this flexibility part that I had counted on for this appeal.
    – The linkage of the past to the present is unecessary. The merit of the situation at hand should be measured on its own, and not need the past to help
    weigh in. e.g. my platelets donation was anonymous – I did no background check on the recipient. He or she deserves it, every time.
    – The $10 fine could have been issued to anyone who exceeded the same amount of time, so some grace period is intrinsic, and not specific to me.
    On my appeal, nothing additional was given, and so the fact is : when URA was given a chance to be gracious and compassionate, it decided not
    to take it.
    – URA is an organization. Its visions and culture are of the people who run it. If complacency sets in, people should realize it and overcome it, and not
    take offence with it

    Apology is a form of graciousness, too. The model answer I am looking for, is ” … URA understands the SGH carpark situation, and understands
    Mr Tan’s specific circumstances now, and will continue to take extra care when evaluating extraordinary cases in the future.”

    What warms my heart, is when after reading my first letter, SGH offered to pay my fine outside of their normal procedure. They were pleased to learn
    that I was beyond the $10, and that I will stay on the program. Healthcare organisations ought not to be the only ones showing compassion
    and graciousness.

    Tan Tatt Si

  8. Tatt Si | June 25th, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    As promised. Remember : I wasn’t looking for $10 refund.


    30 May 08

    Mr Tan Tatt Si
    Via email : tattsi@yahoo.com.sg

    Dear Mr Tan


    1 We refer to your email of 21 May 08 addressed to Mr Lim Eng Chong.

    2 We have noted your comments. We have disallowed your appeal after
    having thoroughly assessed your case based on other facts and information
    available, besides the reasons, provided by you. However, we are aware
    that there will always be situations where members of the public and the
    regulatory authority may disagree.

    3 Nevertheless, we respect your sentiments on the matter. We also thank
    you for your feedback and views which we will take into consideration in
    our regular reviews of our operations and policies.

    Yours sincerely
    KOH WEI KEE (Ms)

  9. Simply Jean » Blog Archive » Remember Mr Self-Pwned on Graciousness and Parking? | June 26th, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    […] you remember reading the post that I wrote about a donor who got a parking summon after parking beyond the time stipulated on his […]

  10. james ow | August 14th, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    It puzzles me. One who can afford to drive, holds a good job and prepares to donate blood to save lives, somehow want to save on cheap parking coupons too.

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