Saturday, December 17, 2011

MRT breakdown and what is wrong with our transport system....

UPDATE:  I would like to thank everyone for their comments and the lively exchange in the comments section. As far back as 4 years ago, I wrote about the MRT privatisation trade offs and how the need to pursue profits wilwould result in trading off quality of service. Some may have given some thought to this but might not have fully appreciate the consequences of privatisation.  A few months ago, shortly after Liu Tuck Yew took charge of the Transport Ministry, this debate surfaced again between Workers' Party and Liu. Liu and a few of PAP MPs offered their side of the argument. This series of breakdowns really woke everyone up and once the problems become severe people quickly understand the pitfalls of the current model. While it is unclear whether cost cutting to preserve profits resulted in the problems of the past few days many people now understand that the need to increase profits will lead to compromises. To me, the MRT breakdown is also symbolic of a larger breakdown that is starting...the breakdown of Singapore Inc and many of the systems put in place by the PAP govt. I will explain it in my next posting. As with the MRT situation, people quickly understand what has gone wrong only when the breakdown becomes obvious and the rpoblems become hard to fix.

I was once stuck in a train on the Circle Line for 15 minutes before a technical problem was rectified. The train was very stuffy and passengers were very frustrated ...and that was for a 15 minute delay so when you have a  people stuck in a train for a hour without air conditioning and lights, you can expect people to be very angry with what happened.

You can't blame the people on the train for being angry but I feel much of the anger for SMRT's CEO Saw Piak Hwa is misdirected. Ultimately as CEO of SMRT, the buck stops with her but that does not mean she has been negligent or did not do her job well. The problems were caused by misalignment of the rails and an inquiry is being conducted to determine all the facts. The actual cause may be failure to check the rails because experts did not recommend SMRT to do so or checks were done but the technicians did not do a good job or it is really something that cannot be foreseen even with the best technical knowledge. However, Saw is presumed by many on the Internet and the general public to have done something wrong.

There was unhappiness with Ms Saw even before this latest incident and much of this is unjustified. People blame her for crowded trains, unpleasant rides and many don't like her for getting a high salary of several million for running a public transport system. You cannot blame Saw for the crowded trains because she does not control our foreign influx and when the trains became crowded it is not within the SMRT resources to invest in new lines or completely revamp the system. Only the govt can build new lines and Ms Saw is answerable to share holders she can't just throw in every penny to replace trains, and rebuild stations because SMRT is a listed company and bottom line is everything. SMRT did improve the signalling system to increase frequency and that upgrade cost $1B.  I don't blame her for her pay because such high executive compensation is now common place among listed company CEOs and Saw is not an exception.

"SMRT must make this right...." - Minister Liu, Straits Times headlines, 17 Dec 2011

Singaporeans are unhappy with the whole transport system and Saw Piak Hwa, the well paid CEO of SMRT has become an easy target for their anger. She is not in charge of the transport system, Minister Liu is but I don't suggest you direct your anger at Minister Liu because he has been on the job for a few months and inherited the whole system with all its problems from Raymond Lim who inherited it from Mah Bow Tan....and so on. Raymond Lim and Mah are no longer ministers. There are so many issues that cause Singaporeans to be unhappy about transport that I doubt Minister Liu can fix them all. Our transport system may never get back to a state that Singaporeans find it satisfactory.  When did our transport problems begin? ....Once you understand how it begins, you will have some idea how it can be fixed.

In Singapore we have the most expensive cars in the world due to the COE. We have the highest cost of using cars due to ERP, road tax and petrol tax. In many countries, a person working as a cashier in a supermarket can own a car so transport is not in issue but in Singapore a many professionals/degree holders do not drive due to the cost. But since Singapore is small and population density is high people can accept that not everyone can own a car. However, the distribution of COEs purely on the basis of the ability of people to pay mismatch the needs of people with this limited resource, cars. A lower middle class father with a real need for a car, say someone with children and parents with medical conditions (difficulty walking cannot take bus), is priced out by the teenage son of a millionaire who doesn't really need the car. Our income gap which is the largest in the developed world amplifies the mismatch. The alternative to owning a car is taking taxis that is why people are up in arms when fares are increased because it has become a necessity for some people. When people complained that it was hard to get taxis during peak hours the taxi companies increased peak hour charges to price poorer people out during peak hours. When traffic becomes heavy, ERP charges are increased to price 'poorer' drivers out - these mechanisms are fine if our income gap is not so big and we can compete more equally to pay to get scarce resources based on our needs. But that is not the case for Singapore and people are torn apart by their needs and ability to pay.  The thing that can save us all from the unhappy outcome of this system is a good public transport system. That is why many cities without COEs have not fallen apart ....a COE-less system forces the govt to make the public transport system so good that people prefer not to drive their cars...with a quota system in place, the govt has less incentive to create public system that is good enough to compete with car ownership.

Our public transport system has been privatised and the tradeoff between operating profits and passenger comfort comes into play. What public transport companies like SMRT and SBS try to do is adhere to minimum standards and maximise profit margins. So the incentive for CEO Saw is to do no more than the minimum in terms of service quality because she won't lose any customers as a monopoly . The elimination of new long haul bus services which the transport ministry plans to force more people into a "spoke and hub" system in which the MRT forms the hub and short haul buses the spoke can only worsen the system. More direct long haul buses that connect major worker centers to major housing estates can relieve the congestion in our MRT system.

Our entire transport system is now in a very unsatisfactory state with middle class families struggling very hard to own and use a car that they really need and ordinary Singaporeans unhappy with the crowded public system and poor people completely priced out of taxis and cars when they urgently need them.

The Worker's Party suggests re-nationalising the bus and MRT so that more resources can put into them and the need for generate profit is taken away. This may sound like a bold drastic solution but I believe that the govt should go even further. Good public transport is essential to lift up the quality of life of the majority of people in Singapore and reduce the demand for cars limited by road capacity  Worker's Party suggests to operate this system on a cost recovery basis - I would go even further to suggest that the govt should make the system as good as possible even if it means that they incur some operating losses in the form of subsidies to students, senior citizens and poor.  After all  the govt sinks in billions into defense without cost recovery.... and rightfully so for the long term security of the nation even though there are no direct and immediate threats. Similarly, we should think in terms of the gain in the quality of life of Singaporeans when we invest and operate our public transport system - it will help to alleviate some of deleterious effects of our large income gap and strengthen our social compact. In that sense spending on public transport system is part of security as one of our pillars of defense - social defense - depend very much on the cohesiveness of our society.
If people feel that is system is designed for the rich and their needs are not met when the time comes, the man behind the weapons, asked to serve his country, may have one less reason to die for his society ....


Anonymous said...

The root of all our problems in PAP. If people can unite and vote out PAP, our lives will improve tremendously. Have faith, think different, act boldly.

Derick Goh said...

I am quite amazed that some would defend these people in charge. If they kept their eye less on showing profits and more on providing a public service for the good of the people, we would have less problems all around.

Anonymous said...

Yah lah, angry no use, no matter who you angry at.

Because I think minister Lui and CEO Saw are the best available talents you can find to manage transport and MRT.

Because even if you replace them, the replacement may be no better. Or people who are better than them may not want the job so not available lah.

You can see from past experience what. Raymond Lim replaced Yeo Cheow Tong and Lui replace Raymond as transport ministers. Things got improve or not??? You say lah.

Same thing for the PAP lah. You replace PAP as govt, you think things will be better?

Willy said...

Compassion, which is lacking amongst the PAP Millionaire BloodSuckers and their Civil Service technocrats, are the reason for the problems we are facing.

Running everything at cost-plus-high-profit means only the Rich will be able to afford Singapore. The poor, sick, old are left out to fend for themselves.

And then with GST, Water Tax, Conservancy charges, levies on everything, the POOR are in FAR worse position then they were in the 80s or early 90s.

Cutting TAXES of the RICH, namely the PAP MILLIONAIRES and the CIVIL SERVANTS like Judges, Prosecutors, Police, make them blind to the situation on the ground, and encourage them to set more policies that favour/side with the Lee-Ching PAP.

Only with the PAP gone, and a more compassionate government replacing it, will the situation improve.

Anonymous said...

Actually in the entire fiasco..I only blame 1 person.
And it means going waaaay back to the root cause.
Who brings in the immigration & population?
Gan Kim Yong during his reign as Minister of Manpower.
Where is the coordination? LEft hand don't know what right hand doing? If you are freaking going to open your doors for 2m+ of people + tourists then you bloody make sure all your infrastructure is capable of coping. Is like a small time sailer who comes with a sampan and want to load up as many stolen gold bars from the titanic as possible and getting drown out.
Where is the fxxxxx foresight for capacity planning?

And he is now the Minister for just wait and see.

Sgcynic said...

How the public transport system evolved under the then transport minister Yeow Cheow Tong.

NE line priced higher than the othe lines for cost recovery. MRT provides alternative mode of transport and choice to Singaporeans.

Bus routes running parallel to NE line withdrawn to avoid duplication and rationalise use of resources. We learn from Ngiam Tong Dow recently that this SBS was directed by the LTA to do so as the former feared that otherwise the MRT line may lose money.

In response to complaints about the withdrawn bus services above, Yeow spun the explanation that travelling time on the train would be more predictable than simply traveling on a long trunk bus service due to unpredictable road conditions and traffic jams. Never mind the increased waiting and walking time between transfers, never mind that the elderly, handicapped, babies in prams.

In short, MRT gave the commuters choice. Nope it helps to rationalize resources. Nope it makes our traveling time predictable.

Kenneth Koh said...

Hi Lucky I have to disagree with you this one time - I do not feel anger towards Saw is misdirected. At the end of the day she is the one to sign off on her COO's decisions on areas like maintenance schedules, systems upgrading and ongoing repairs.

She would know full well that ridership is increasing with increasing immigration and that maintenance steps have to be increased accordingly. Yes as a privately listed company CEO you can say that she is incentivised to keep costs down and do the bare minimum cost-wise to keep things running smoothly, but frankly I think as the leader of a national transport provider she simply cannot be so naive to think that her mandate is simply to provide increased shareholder returns alone.

If the senior management of SIA can understand that they have a mandate not only to increase profits, but also maintain the pride of the nation as a well-run (strike free) airline (made very clear to them when our government interfered in ther pilots' protest), surely Saw Phaik Hwa should recognise that her mandate also extends to maintaining Singapore's image of efficiency and that keeping the wheels of our well-oiled economic machine running.

Anonymous said...

By the same token, WKS should not be responsible for MSK's escape either! Looks like no one needs to be held answerable for anything. Even with such a major screw ups, the only ones who might be blamed are the technicians or guards. LTA may impose a heavy fine on SMRT but ultimately it is the commuters who have to pay those bills. To protect the CEO of such a sloppy organization that has been given the monopoly power amazes me.

Anonymous said...

My reservist platoon has already told our CO that in event of war, we will surrender at first opportunity. Kena farked upside down by CO of course. But later in private, the CO told a couple of us platoon commanders that if possible we should simply get out of reservist, either medical downgrade or work overseas. And to create opportunities for ourselves to go overseas for work and possible migration. That CO's family already has Aus PR and his kids and wife are staying in Aus. He's a senior regional director in commodities industry and he spends 50% of his time in Aus with his family.

Anonymous said...

I saw what was coming....I packed and I left....could not be happier.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Tan,

I have been your reader for a number of years.

If this blog is owned by you individually, I am really really impressed.

You are able to comment and analyze on a wide range of topics in a cool and logical way.

As it is, you have generously share your knowledge and expertise to a large group of our fellow Singaporeans. I can imagine what sort of impact you could create if you were to come out in the open to champion for all Singaporeans.

My sincere admiration and gratitude to your sharing.

I hate managers... said...

The stubborness of management never fails to amaze.

Whenever employees provide unsolicitated feedback, listen and listen and consider. Failure to listen and consider will cause great pain later.

Maintainnence people, operations people, people at the front of the battle know each and every pile of shit and every smelly hole.

People who sit at their desk and plan schedules, plan events, plan actions, are normally the most blind. It gets worse when they ignore rumours and consider the frontline staff as emotional, uneducated and bias.

The ability to discern realistic viewpoints versus unsubstantiated stories, is the hallmark of effective leadership.

None of middle managers, junior executives that I speak with have that ability. All are very much task orientated.
Just listen to the commnuications and media people during the SMRT press briefings.

Their concern is always to accomplish the task. The process is not important, the goal is.

We have a nation of technocrats who are focused on completing the job, not solving the problem.

Anonymous said...

Anon 14:56,

It is clear that many of my friends have spoken of this too. They have left for Australia already and I want to join them. I don't want my income tax to pay and sustant the million-dollar lifesytle of our ministers on their pension.

Why should our income tax pay for their pension when they themselves pass a law that removes all the pensions of their rank and file civil servants? Having being enlightened, I'm patiently and slowing planning my migration. The very thought excites me and gives me great hope of living the life of a human being and not a machine or an animal in Singapore. This is no longer home. Home has become hell.

TokyoSingaporean said...

For $2000 Singapore dollars, you could buy a good second-hand car in Tokyo. Cash and carry.

Anonymous said...

If Saw Piak Hwa's leadership is not in questioned, why is she speaking on behalf of SMRT?

The reason the government is privatising everything is because it has gotten lazy and complacent to manage the affairs of the people of Singapore.

This problem could have been forseeable had they seriously gottne their economic development plan in order and keep each ministry in the loop as to the immigration flood they are bringing in each month.

Each month, 40 to 50 000 filipinas, PRCs, India Indians, Indonesians, Burmese are boarding our trains. So what does mean it is unforseeable?

It's clear the government is not talking to these entreprises. They're sleeping on the job and this is just 7 months into reelection.

Here's a reality check:

More social problems will occur. Petty crime rates from foreigners will increase.

Suicides will increase as people are financially constrained. The 2 gambling dens will escale this further.

We will continue to see unprecedent increases in HDB resale flats and BTOs. Demands for accomodation will continue to outdo supply of houses as the government continue to open the floodgates to immigration.

More Singaporeans will migrate in the next few coming years.

Most Singapore NSFs will surrender or run away and not defend Singapore as they are aware that they are serving NS to protect the assets of the rich people in this country. The poor Singaporean man's son will realise that he is putting his life to protect the assets of the rich man's son and not his country! This is so as he realises how we have the highest income inequality in the world!

More flooding will occur and the government will run out of excuses to tell the public. More spin such as climate change will be offered but people will find such excuses a cliche.

More Singaporeans will not get married due to the escalating cost of living and inflation. More will purchase sex instead of settling families.

The young will experience greater frustration as their dreams can't come true and they are often implicitly pressured to be a robot and not express themselves.

The young will be reclaiming the freedoms that their parents lost.

More university students would not find jobs and start applying overseas to earn a living as Singapore will not be a viable place for them to earn a living to set up a family anymore.

More young Singaporeans will migrate as they prefer cooler climate than the blistering Singapore sun and its mechanical life.

More Singaporeans will desire a quiet home environment will clean air and open spaces where there is no noise from all the overcrowding.

Many Singaporeans will vote against the life that this present government is giving them, alomg with the right to speak their minds from their hearts.

More Singaporeans will insult PRCs, India Indians and pinoys as the year progresses as these people are selfish parasites who take away their opportunities and are here to merely pick the fruits.

More Singapreans will be aware of spin, indoctrination, conditioning, implicit pressure, suppression, repression, propaganda, hypocrisy, etc..

More will be awakened.

Anonymous said...

Wonder how apology will be able to make up for damage repair had there been casualty or commuter badly wounded in any of the mishaps?

How would passenger killed and injured in Public Transports be addressed? TIME FOR OUR GOVERNMENT TO INFORM THE PUBLIC WITH GUIDELINES REGARDING SUCH MATTER. So far, little or no life has been damaged, however, with the RISING frequency of mishaps happening to our public transport system. IT IS IMPERATIVE FOR THE AUTHORITY TO ENSURE THE SAFETY AND WELL-BEING OF THE PEOPLE.


Lucky Tan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lucky Tan said...


I did not say Saw is not responsible. As CEO she has to take responsibility for everything that happens in SMRT she can't run from that. Saw did not deny responsible and she has apologised.

I said anger is misdirected and we don't even know the actual cause of the breakdown. There is a world of difference between taking responsible and causing the breakdown. If she made decisions to cut cost or reduce maintenance or not execute recommendations from train experts then anger would be warranted. But we don't even know the cause yet and people are just angry because they are unhappy with the system and they don't like her.

In WKS Mas Selamat case, he did not apologise and accept responsibility at the start, and people took issue with that.

If you run a 40,000 people organisation, you cannot ensure every single person does his jobe properly or be able to fish out all possible actions that will lead to major problems. You do your best to ensure that people are properly trained, processes are in play and checks are made. However, even after you do that as a CEO, you cannot completely ensure that no mistakes will be made. When one occurs, you still have to take responsibility and ownship of the problem so that people are assured it will be solve. If it is determined later that the serios problem is caused by your actions and decisions, then you may have to resign.

We don't even know the cause of the problem at SMRT yet and we don't know if it is caused by her decisions or not. So directing your anger at her just does not make sense....because she might not have done anything wrong with regards to the breakdown.

Anonymous said...

Simple operational problem involving 4 trains.
Blur like sotong.

And still want to talk about Singapore going to nuclear power for electricity.

These turkeys cannot be trusted with operating a nuclear power station in Singapore.
Vote wisely in GE 2016.

See google links below for Singapore's nuclear vision.


Anonymous said...

anger is not misdirected.

mrt line faults may happen, but its their incident management that is screwed up. why leave passengers stranded 1 hr with no lights or air con and no communication?

This could have been handled much more better. and perhaps, the impact would not have been that great.

the CEO really need to look at the way they handle things. especially crisis management.

Anonymous said...

'As it is, you have generously share your knowledge and expertise to a large group of our fellow Singaporeans. I can imagine what sort of impact you could create if you were to come out in the open to champion for all Singaporeans'.

Will Lucky Tan ever volunteer to do it?

Anonymous said...

If SIA can achieved a good safety and flight schedule records. Why can't can SMRT which is a far smaller organization?
Have to say that Lucky has been too forgiving.

Anonymous said...

127,000 train commuters affected.

127,000 new die hard voters for the Opposition in GE 2016.

Vote wisely for a better future for our children.

Anonymous said...

"If SIA can achieved a good safety and flight schedule records. Why can't can SMRT which is a far smaller organization?
Have to say that Lucky has been too forgiving." 17/12/11 16:50

Not everything is reported in the media.

You dont know half the shit thats happening below you when seated on board.

Its always, cheaper better faster
just to satisfy the customer who wants cheap, good, nearby, fast, abundant and if you are 30 seconds slow, you are late!

Just like a restaurant, you do not want to visit the kitchen.

Anonymous said...

@ ANON 13:37
"Same thing for the PAP lah. You replace PAP as govt, you think things will be better?"

Things may not get better.

But it will be cheaper since I no longer have to pay their high salaries.

Added bonus:
Things may actually improve.
So I get Better & Cheaper!!

127,000 affected commuters.
Vote wisely in GE 2016.

Anonymous said...

127,000 paxs, half maybe foreigners and 20% maybe below 21 year olds, as such maybe only 30% can vote.

Anonymous said...

60% of the 127,000 commuters are PAP supporters.

Poetic Justice!

You got the government you deserve.

Anonymous said...

You would never know the truth. The PR dept would make sure that she looks good, as always! There is no excuse with such frequent breakdowns.

Anonymous said...

//Ms Saw is answerable to share holders she can't just throw in every penny to replace trains, and rebuild stations because SMRT is a listed company//

From the above, can it be said that L Tan believes that shareholders interest should come before the interest of the public? Public Transportation is as essential as utilities, which are also privatized and some listed. So, hypothetically, if L Tan is incharge of any of these services, HIS PRIORITY WILL BE THE BOTTOMLINE AND INTERESTED OF THE OWNERS AND SHAREHOLDERS.

Wish sincerely that L Tan will respond to this post.

Anonymous said...

Lucky Tan will respond after SMRT CEO and Minister Lui responds first.

Anonymous said...

'If SIA can achieved a good safety and flight schedule records. Why can't can SMRT which is a far smaller organization?'
SIA is a much bigger organization and aircrafts are many times more complex than trains.

Anonymous said...

Me AM NOT in favour of punishment when unpreventable accident and mishap happened. BUT, if things go wrong because of negligence such as failure of maintenance, routine essential check and poor administration, THOSE INCHARGE MUST BE HELD RESPONSIBLE AND ACCOUNTABLE. SO START THE BALL ROLLING!


Anonymous said...

I don't often disagree with Lucky but in this case, I think some of the anger directed at the SMRT CEO might be justified. I understand she was hired to handle the retail business, and sure, it's boom town Charlie for anyone in the property business and she's riding that wave. The problem is that the CEO of SMRT needs to be more than a property tycoon. It needs someone with an understanding of transportation engineering and systems who can make astute judgements on cost and benefits. I suspect the transportation system was neglected. A good CEO would have recognized the signs of stress at the seams of the switching system and made an appeal to LTA or the government to make the upgrades before it became a problem. Ditto with these series of failures in the lines with no ocntingency planning (also a fault I lay at the hands of the CEO).

Anonymous said...

Hey Mr Lucky

I said the same thing some time back ... u know its LTA's fault for not building enough lines .. when YOU were bashing SMRT for its profits and overcrowding ... but now u are saying its LTA's fault ... when its is known that CEO had ... u know ... replaced all the old staff with HER people ...

but hey ... endorsed by Lucky cannot be wrong ... give SAW a RAISE!

Anonymous said...

A good CEO would have recognized the signs of stress at the seams of the switching system and made an appeal to LTA or the government to make the upgrades before it became a problem.

true. Even with that penalty, it should not prevent Saw from becoming a good CEO.

She just got to hire good engineers.

I do want to elaborate more on the abuses that engineers are receiving in Singapore. In SG especially GLCs, engineers are having a ultra low social standing and often victims of politiking.

Today, if you are an engineer, no one will marry you.

The SG institution of giving bias towards the managers and CEOs, without any respect for those who know the field have been going on for many years.

Today, we are reaping the fruits. In future, more blow up is expected.

Tan Kin Lian said...

Dear Lucky Tan,
I wish to contact you. Please send email to

Anonymous said...

The flak she is taking comes with the job. And this is also the reason why she is pocketing the highest salary ever for a SMRT CEO even though she does not personally inspect the rails and what not. It is also debatable whether all along she is the best person for the job or did she really get the job because of "connection".

Anonymous said...

"127,000 train commuters affected.

127,000 new die hard voters for the Opposition in GE 2016."

No lah, more than half of that are foreigners, hee hee.

goldmansion said...

I think the real real problem is
Singapore is really over populated
and our infrastructure is stretch to
the maximum. (roads, walkway, car-parks etc)
I really pity all Singaporeans, me
included living in this cramp and
tiny 712 sq. km island with our living space (HDB flats) getting smaller and smaller.

quality and right personnel said...

it shows once again that the quality of staff and management is important in every sector. I see too often that the quality has deteriorated. If someone has done more to check beyond the basic procedural maintenance, if there had been spot checks, instead of relying of SOP, things will be different. Time for audits to be more stringents, and get the right talents; not just paper qualified personnel..

Lye Khuen Way said...

I have to agree with Kenneth Koh that for once I do not support Lucky in his post that Ms Saw is faultless.

Granted she cannot be 100% responsible, dare I suggest that the situation is just a reflection of what has been happening to Singapore as a whole.
If Ms Saw could not spend on up-keep/ maintenance/ etc she should reigned "her commission", as a good -honest officer in the old Empire days would have done.

Pass the running of SMRT back to the Government.
They should NOT have in the first place make it a Public Listed Company.
We have too many " de-regulation" and passing of the buck of essential & strategic entities to GLC & and the likes.

Anonymous said...

'If SIA can achieved a good safety and flight schedule records. Why can't can SMRT which is a far smaller organization?'

If SIA screws up safety people will die unlike trains. There are strict regulations in the aviation industry to make sure safety. Anyway there are many airlines to choose unlike our local transport system and if SIA fails to deliver ypu can choose other airlines.

Anonymous said...

Basically the system Singaporeans are living under is devised and fine-tuned by LKY n his pap. If there is any blame it should rest squarely on the laps of LKY and his pap kakis.
The whole system is rotten. Singaporeans will see more of such massive disruptions in the future. This is due to years of adjustments at the peripheries. That is why the same problem can occure two days in a row. They only replaced and retified the damage parts. They don't think thru as to how this comes about. It goes back to the way Singaporeans have been trained to follow orders and take instructions from the top. Singaporeans living in Singapore have lost their ability to think. said...
This comment has been removed by the author. said...

My views exactly! An excellent article..

However, i dun understand this little part here:

""a COE-less system forces the govt to make the public transport system so good that people prefer not to drive their cars...with a quota system in place, the govt has less incentive to create public system that is good enough to compete with car ownership.""

Shouldn't a COE-less system naturally allow a govt to be more lax in the development of the transport system, as public backlash will be less stinging due to cheap and available alternatives, and vice versa?

Swimmer... said...

We have all been hoodwinked to believe that privatisation leads to competition which leads to market forces which determines price.

From privatising power generation to bus, taxi and rail.. its all been a great disguise.

I say power to the people!

I say return all these basic services to government control and accountability. Just like public swimming pools.

And why dont they privatise them?
Life guards are cheap? Water is cheap? Cholrine is cheap?

Anonymous said...

I think a ceo has to proactively anticipate and seek the out the problems... in advance. Example; that thai girl falling off the platform would not have occurred had the partitions/ shields been anticipated and built beforehand.
When the train carriage stopped and ventilation became a huge problem, were there releasable windows/ doors that can be open to let in the air instead of having to physically smash the windows to let in air? Also, are the crisis management procedures constantly reviewed?......

Anonymous said...

Just a question to L Tan.
Are You an acquaintance of Ms Saw PH?
You are not obliged to answer.
Thank You!

Anonymous said...

The key issue is that this red dot has a government that is not accountable and transparent. Everything is top secret under Official Secret Act and there is no Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act. As such, power is concentrated in the hands of only few elites. There is no check and balance. Parliament and legal system are partial. Abuse of power is real. Such SMRT incidents, Floods, security events are just symptoms of a deteriorating governance system. This is not sustainable. Given another decades, with modernization of other nearby countries and China, India, economic competition is getting hotter. Do you think the red dot can compete with China, India and Vietnam etc for low and medium tech economy? Do you think it can compete with EU, US, China, India in the high tech economy? Think about it. My opinion is that the future is not so rosy as what LKY said riding the dragon. It is more like riding a tiger. My opinion is same as many that migrating to elsewhere is an option. It is the option that gets more and more attractive.

DanielXX said...

The question now in my mind is: is Ms Saw Phaik Hwa a Singapore citizen or is she still a PR? I'd always thought she's converted to citizen but if she's not.... what is she doing as CEO of a key national strategic transport company???

Can anybody clarify?

District 10 said...

i am so happy i own not just one car but 2 cars.

one passat CC for my wife and a mercedes cls for myself.

The COE need to go further up and the cost of using the road via ERP and parking need to go up. Singaporeans must accept the fact that even car owners should know their place. if we have people from the suburbs clamouring to go to town in their junk car, waht would the world come to??!! PRICE THEM OUT!

Anonymous said...

"Do you think it can compete with EU, US, China, India in the high tech economy?"
Anon 18/12/11 01:03

What high tech??

Casinos, property, financial hub, medical hub, etc etc for the rich foreigners etc etc.

Don't you observe?

Third-eye Blind said...

From some of the comments I feel that some people are far stricter with Lucky that they ever will with themselves. One was even (sarcastically?) questioning if Lucky is an acquaintance of Ms Saw PH.

Does Lucky not have the right to his own opinion at all?

Anonymous said...

Dear Lucky,

You seem to have forgotten that she is the one who said that there is actually sufficient space in our trains during peak hours, just that Singaporeans choose not to board crowded trains. This is a lie, and the main reason why I hate her. The latest incidents also highlight how incompetent SMRT is at preventive maintenance and corrective actions. This proves that she is not doing her job well as a CEO, and she is not worth her salary. Time for a change of personnel at the top.

As for shareholders, Temasek owns 54% of their shares. Temasek belongs to the country, which in turn belongs to the people. So disrupting the lives of the people is actually doing a disservice to its shareholders.

Anonymous said...

Is it any wonder if her eyes should be on nothing much else besides the ads revenue, rental incomes, fare increases, cost cutting and salary increases, or what everyone here is consumed with as well.

Lucky Tan said...,

In a COE-less system where there is no absolute quota, the only control in the system is a good public transport system to contain the car population. For example in S. Korea, before a housing estate is populated, they will put the public system in place ...why/ because when people start moving in, they see that the public transport already there and is so good, they won't buy a car and even if they have a car they will use it less. A good public transport system is the way to control road congestion.

However, when you have the COE, you can control the congestion by just controlling the there is no incentive to build a public transport system that people will love. So in Singapore, the public transport is always catiching up with demand, reacting to overcrowding stress and reacting to unpleasant. The COE becomes the main strategy to control road congestion...that takes away the incentive to make the public transport system so good people would rather use it than to drive a car.

Lucky Tan said...

anon 03:30,

That is a separate matter. Her PR to say service is better than it probably add to number of reasons why people don't like her.

On the overcrowding issue, it is caused more by the foreign influx and the privatisation of MRT which put in the profit motive and takes away the ability to quickly deploy big resources to quickly solve problems.

I'm just reminding everyone to look at the bigger picture. Don't let the govt just pin everything on SMRT and CEO Saw when they created the pre-conditions for the mess we are in. You're letting the PAP get away from its past decisions...

On this specific breakdown, it has happened again. So the pressure on Saw is mounting. If you go through the balance sheet of SMRT, it spends 8% of revenue on maintenance. Sufficient? We don't know until Board of Inquiry figure the real causes. In a public listed company, there is always this pressure to keep cost down and stick to minimum needed and recommended by experts for maintenance. Replacing Saw does not mean the basic problem of SMRT being profit seeking listed company will go away...the next CEO will face the same pressure to make money.

Focussing the anger on Saw, misses the whole big picture of the entire system. If she resign, it will appease the public for a short while but our problems are still there.

Anonymous said...

How do we fix the root cause of the problem?

GE 2016.
Vote wisely!

Dan said...

We have always been told that we are complacent and need spurs in our hide. Wonder who those lines apply to now. The constant PR disasters from SMRT and slack supervision from LTA finally reveals what the commuters have been saying about our public transport. It has always been a management issue, not just on the corporate front but also on essential public services. Verdict so far is that management has not been up to scratch. We need replacement, not just for train parts.

cow138 said...

I have to fully support about the abuses of engineers in today s Singapore social context. Its really sad, the local university course is stringent And rigorous but the renumeration and recognition just sucks.

Its embarrassing to tell ppl that you are working as one. Immediately they pigeon hole u into a stereotype caricature which is definitely not complimentary.

Miss the wood for the trees... said...

To Lucky Tan

"I'm just reminding everyone to look at the bigger picture. Don't let the govt just pin everything on SMRT and CEO Saw when they created the pre-conditions for the mess we are in. You're letting the PAP get away from its past decisions..."

That is the crux of the issue!

People just point and shoot like toilet urinal... and miss too!

Wonderful addition to your post, this is the moment that people need focus and you have highlighted a very important fact.

Great job! Thanks for sharing, and even showing the way!

Anonymous said...

To district 10 .... I own 12 cars & we will price you out too you scumbag Elite wannabe.....more like pantat cc ha ha & entry level tiny cls ....

Most of us think we own temasek but the truth is they own us .....they own the game... They r the monopoly man...but in order to even manipulate or play the game......u need players & we r the players...from putting kids in their brain washing machine, from subscribing to all their telcos & entertainment channels , taking their loans & paying for coe, we validate n perpetuate their monopoly.....& ask around you.... Most sheeples in sgp still vote for u see by indoctrination ...most singies are braindead whilst another 50% refuse to wake up. Young n old same 60%.

Anonymous said...

One good thing that came out of the ineptness with which the team of apes came out from this fiasco.

The tens of thousands of foreign trash, PRC, Indian, Pinoy etc. stuck in the trains will go back to their countries and tell their countrymen how "advanced" and swell this third world country pretending to be first world is.

Then they don't come anymore because it's not the wonderland they think it is and we can reclaim our jobs.

Thanks SMRT!

Anonymous said...

To let the pap leegime get away with such a major disruption is being naive. Removing Saw is very easy for the papist leegime. Will it solve the problems for Singaporeans ? Definitely NOT. Lucky is right, the root cause of this problem goes much much deeper.
BTW Raymon Lim took over from Yeo Cheow Tong under whose watch we have the infamous Nicole Hwy collapse.

Anonymous said...

@Lucky, the very first comment already sums up the message you wants to bring across. Need we say more?

Anonymous said...

Dear Lucky,

I'm a regular reader of your blog and a great fan.
I agree with your point of not letting the PAP get away with the consequences of their policies by putting the blame on Saw.

You are right that Saw can be just made a scapegoat for now to appease public anger without the PAP addressing the fundamental causes of the problems we face today.

Alternatively, there is one bright side to Saw's removal. It sends a signal, probably unintended by the PAP, to their cronies happily sitting in the TLC positions that, "If we need to feed you to the lions to save ourselves, we will do so." That might set these sycophantic incompetents re-thinking about their wonderful master. In any case, it's good that the system's rot is beginning to show through the ever-widening cracks.

Keep up the good work, Lucky!

A civil servant who would love to share more about the rot in the system but is unfortunately restrained by the OSA.

Anonymous said...

from hardwarezone:

I'm not an engineering student but hearing from a friend who's a consultant for one of the firms contracted by SMRT. He said this...

SMRT contracted some firms as their advisor on the engineering problems.. machiam like outsource. then they get their own people to fix. apprarently, the advisors tell them must change the whole third rail use new material, but one of the ah tiong in house engineer of SMRT say like that not cost efficient so they use some screws and bolts to "fix" the droppping thing instead of doing an actual repair.. that's why not screwed up cos temp fix drop again.. KNN fark that ah tiong engineer.

Anonymous said...

CEO Saw is not a crony and that is why the stage has been set for her.

If it was some other crony, the Operations manager, the Senior VP will be the one... no need for Commission of Inquiry.

There are so many ways.. towards self preservation.
Remember Mas Selamat.. crony survives
to sing another day!

I am sorry for Saw.. the bullet has her name carved on it and there is no escape.

Anonymous said...

Whatever lah, and to sum up, PAP will still win the elections in 2016 with at least 90% seats.

So if the system does not improve, peasants who can only afford to take MRT will have to bear with it all till then and beyond.

Unless they replace themselves to a better place to live lah.

Anonymous said...

Too many extraneous portfolios may have caused Saw PH to lose focus on SMRT

Besides being CEO and board member of SMRT Corp and its related companies, her extraneous portfolios include:

Director of The Esplanade Co Ltd

Director of Singapore Tourism Board Board

member of National Environment Agency Board

member of Health Promotion Board

Member of Board of Trustees - S'pore Management University

Member of Board of Trustees - Tan Tock Seng Hospital Community Charity Fund

Member of Baord of Trustees - Youth Business Singapore

Member of Singapore Totalisator Board's Sports Sub-Committee

President of Singapore Jin Chuan Tai Chi Chuan Physical Culture Association

Vice-President on the Exec Committee of the International Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan Federation

Governor of Internationl body of Wu Tai Chi Chuan Academy for S'pore and Malaysia

3rd Vice Chairman of Singapore Wushu Dragon & Lion Dance Federation

Anonymous said...

To Anon above.

For a CEO of publicly list co, this is normal lah.

Just as normal as their million dollar salaries.

Or as normal as a King will live in a palace.

Anonymous said...

Aiyah, do not feel for people with such high appointments!

They will never ever earn less than 10K a month even without an office lah!
Their perosnal assests beat yours and mine hollow anytime!

Look at all her directorships in other organisations.
You & I lose our jobs and we're F_ Ked!

DanielXX said...

Saw Phaik Hwa not a crony? Haha that's got to be the greatest joke.

ok lah depends how you define a crony. But it is well known how she got the job.

Just shows how clueless sinkies are.

Anonymous said...

Crony or not, she is a CEO.

PAP won 93% seats in elections and formed the govt. Good or not?

Anonymous said...

Saw Fuck Haw is a woman and she's not an engineering trained personnel. So pray tell, why the hell is she leading engineers, technicians, etc.?

Uniquely Singapore. Only when you have ties with the PM and his family, then you'll get opportunities in this fucking country, isn't it?

Just take a good look at Tin Pei Ling! That's a classic point in case. It's not about talent in Singapore. The talented singaporeans have left. It's about connections to MIW. That's why Apple can never be born in Singapore. Creativity needs the right soil to grow and the singapore soil is infertile for that.

We have lousy iron-fisted bullying "Might makes right" leadership in this country.

Anonymous said...

Saw Fuck Haw is a woman and she's not an engineering trained personnel. So pray tell, why the hell is she leading engineers, technicians, etc.?

Uniquely Singapore. Only when you have ties with the PM and his family, then you'll get opportunities in this fucking country, isn't it?

Just take a good look at Tin Pei Ling! That's a classic point in case. It's not about talent in Singapore. The talented singaporeans have left. It's about connections to MIW. That's why Apple can never be born in Singapore. Creativity needs the right soil to grow and the singapore soil is infertile for that.

We have lousy iron-fisted bullying "Might makes right" leadership in this country.

Lye Khuen Way said...

Lucky, I was hearten to see your clarifications and must say we have quite a fair number of true-blue Singaporerans,who do see the bigger picture in that the last few Governments had made things difficult for Ms Saw / SMRT.

The PM who cut short his leave, must have realised that either, the maintenance were sub-standard or there were potential sabotages or both and more.
We do not need a Mumbai incident. Creating disturbances on a weekday and mis-trust of a major public institution is equally bad.

Anonymous said...

My honest thoughts are that Singapore is going to drop drastically in these coming 10 years.

I would urge and advise many Singaporeans to up the ante and get out of their comfort zone and explore other countries.

Migration is now different than it used to be. There are many degrees of migration. It could range from merely working in another country which is better than Singapore for 10 or 15 years, to taking PR just the many filipinas, PRCs, indonesians in Singapore, to full citizenship migration. People used to say that one needs to migrate by age 40.

Globalisation has changed that. Now, people are migrating so as to retire to another country. Think about it. When you're 65 years old, the government will advise you to keep working and continue slogging at minimal emplyer's CPF contribution to you.

Take a look around you. What are the elderly really doing?

The earlier you consider this, the more beneficial it is for you and your future generation.

Singapore is not a place to bring up a family and have a balanced life. It is not even down to a case of to each its own.

It's the Singapore experience itself, that is the problems. There are many cities in this world. Don't limit your life and how much better it could be to Singapore.

Plan and start now. Leave Singapore to the cheap, faster and better pinoys, PRcs, India Indians, malaysian PRs,

This is no longer home. There is no good reason to stay just because you like to eat nasi lemak every morning.

Think harder. You can have a better quality of life being a foreigner in another country than being a citizen here.

Anonymous said...

I hope this is not a forgettable incidents. It is a huge price to pay voting for PAP again. Come next election, I want everybody to open their eyes real wide even if their have to skin their eyelids. I will not trust PAP because of the way the whole systems operate. SMRT is a scapegoat of PAP hidden SYSTEMATIC agenda

Anonymous said...

"...swell this third world country pretending to be first world is. "

You hit the nail on the coffin.

Anonymous said...

"You are right that Saw can be just made a scapegoat for now to appease public anger without the PAP addressing the fundamental causes of the problems we face today."

Did you PM Lee took leave immediately after the incident happened? He is still on leave.

Anonymous said...

//Today, if you are an engineer, no one will marry you.

Anon. 17/12/11 19:54//

Wonder when will this happen :

If you are a banker, no one will marry you.

Believe it... said...

Perhaps we should understand more
about the exponential function.

Steady growth in profits may be great
but what about other factors that supports it? like population:

Please visit YouTube and watch Professor Alfred Bartlett explain
this seemingly difficult concept:

Anonymous said...

MRT is a public infrastructure, paid for by taxpayers. It is also a monopoly or disingenuous duopoly. Why do u a big money or talent for an essential monopoly.

Maybe it sud be broken up into MRT and MRT Properties - this allows the KPI of maximizing profit for the shareholder separate from providing an essential transportation service enabling Singaporeans to produce n generate income.

The cost of the breakdown to the national economy is many orders of magnitude to the actual cost to SMRT. Perhaps the people we sud empathize with are the retailers paying high rents and missing on their traditional peak periods and those tourists who have had a poor experience in Singapore.

Taipei MRT seems and feels a lot better and charges less - often wonder why that is so.

Anonymous said...

Is this a governance issue - compliant, complacent board and an inept management team?

Kojakbt said...

Hey Lucky, good article. Do I have your permission to publish this on the new TR?

Btw guys, new TR has just been reborn:

Anonymous said...

Mr Lucky

Have u seen the news?
Planned delay and still we see massive cockups.
Saw not to be blamed?

Sure, she was placed in a position way beyond her ability but still she needs to go ASAP.

Her incompetence is affecting lives and this goes beyond politics.

Anonymous said...

Temasek Review is back.

Anonymous said...

Whether you are a banker or engineer, no right minded lady will marry you if you are involve in NS. It is because you had married your riffle already. LOL Got chance only to marry a Foreign bride when you are forty plus upon ROD i.e. you get divorce from your riffle's wife.

Anonymous said...

"Trains travelling along certain sections of the North-South and East-West (NSEW) lines will be subject to a slower speed limit of 40 kilometres per hour (kmh), the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said...An LTA spokesperson told AsiaOne that this will cause a slight deterioration of train frequency during the peak hours."

So better wake up earlier and also expect even more overcrowding when going to work hoh.

Anonymous said...

If people feel that is system is designed for the rich and their needs are not met when the time comes, the man behind the weapons, asked to serve his country, may have one less reason to die for his society ....

I think in the event of war, I will stay back to protect my home but will send my kids overseas based on what I have read.

Anonymous said...

The onite inspection has revealed that 61 defects.
What on earth is happening to their maintenance regime ? Accidents waiting to happen n these assholes are not even aware of.
SMRT also revealed that many train drivers do not speak English. So they are employing cheat labours from third world countries to run the Singapore system. Disasters in the making.
The system LKY put in place is rotten and Singaporeans will be adversely affected in the years ahead. Design defects to ignorance, scrimping on maintenance to complacency, arrogance to stupidity, these are the hallmark of the LKY system.

Anonymous said...

"The system LKY put in place is rotten and Singaporeans will be adversely affected in the years ahead. Design defects to ignorance, scrimping on maintenance to complacency, arrogance to stupidity, these are the hallmark of the LKY system."
Anon 18/12/11 21:27

Whatever lah, but do you have a better choice?

60% voted PAP for lack of a better choice.

Anonymous said...

"SMRT also revealed that many train drivers do not speak English."
Anon 18/12/11 21:27

Ya lah, just like many of the bus drivers don't speak English also.

But what to do, not enough of English speaking drivers what.

Anonymous said...

Many young singaporean males have to serve reservists and train for IPPT and RT, if they don't clear. How do you expect these young singaporeans males to find time to get a wife? They can't even find time to do ippt!

Anonymous said...

If Singaporeans are not happy with the LKY system, they have a choice. They can do something to change it. It does not take much efforts. Just a little determination and courage. At the next election, Vote Opposition.
Those who continue to think that Singaporeans don't have a choice but to continue with the LKY system, my advise is wake up from the pap induced sleep u r still in.
Purge your minds of the bullshits the pap has put into your minds over the last 51 years.

Anonymous said...

Our former PM once said, "lao kuai buay si, bo kuai jia ei si" hopefully our PM can re-think about what WP propose and your article expressed. No more or less profifting mechanism on national medical, education and transportation policies.

Anonymous said...

Profit/cost over safety/service is to be blamed. Remember the light rail case, by reducing the number of staff attending to a maintenance job from 2-3 to 1-2 had the consequence. Is there public inquiry? Again, the recent window cleaner case, why was there no safety belt or device for such job? All these tells you one thing. The whole system is rotten not just the hardware. More problem will emerge.

Some people attacked the SMRT staff. Do they know this is really the problem of the top management and ultimately LTA (who built the MRT) and the government are the ones responsible. Wake up, Sinkies.

You need a truly accountable and fully transparent government. You need Freedom of Information and privacy acts rather than Official Secret Act that protects those few elites in a rotten and corrupted system. Wake up, Sinkie!

Anonymous said...

Oh!? Another committee to look into this! Shall we do FIFO? What happened to c on ministerial salary review?? Else, what assurance we will get anything from this c review. Trying to be seen as taking charge of situation?? Nice try....u win again!

Anonymous said...

Lui Tuck Yew should not be blamed as he just took over as Transport Minister In Jun-Jul 2011 and he is still learning the ropes.Full blame can be directed to thw two previous ministers for doing nothing,and honestly speaking,why should they care so long as they get their huge monthly compensation and a pension on retirement
CEO Saw is in a difficult position but I would not exonerate
Her from the train system breakdown.She landed up in this job on the back of strong backing and politics and bickerings
set in when two not so powerful previous ministers took charge.This is certainly not MERITORACY.

PAP nepotism and cronyism will ruin Singapore.
The people of Singapore made Singapore what it is today.
Lee Kuan Yew single-handle duly screwed it up

M said...

Not necessarily because she's a woman, but because she doesn't have military experience, is why Saw has to go. If you put someone like say a former RSM in charge, and don't hogtie him with bullshit about shareholders(ie, he has the freedom to do what is NEEDED, even if it's at less profit).

RSM=in charge of camp security on the ground level(RPs, among other things), so we wouldn't have had the vandalism crap(probably would have caught the cheeky buggers with a bullet between the... cheeks). And everyone who has handled a rifle knows you have to keep it in tip-top shape, otherwise your life is gone in battle. Same with MAIN BLOOD VESSELS(MRT) of your public transport system.

Anonymous said...

"As to why the defects had not been spotted earlier despite nightly inspections by SMRT, Mr Lui said it is up to the Committee of Inquiry to investigate, adding that it will look into "questions related to maintenance issues"."

Wah lau eh, this is real serious man! Don't tell me their maintenance is wayang wayang all this while?

Anonymous said...

I will not be surprised if some lowly Engineer will have to take responsible for the breakdown.

Anonymous said...

This MRT Fiasco is a clear sign : Singapore is on its downfall. Seriously I worked in so many countries, like China, Korea, and I have not see and not heard how the trains can break down. Their passengers are 10X more, and their weather is a lot more harsh (-20C winter, +40C Summer). The train runs as usual. Fire the whole management, CEO down to the heads. Make them jobless. This is what Singapore government has done to many middle management managers and squeezed them. Why don't they do it to themselves? Also, Singaporeans, you vote PAP, you die.

De Leviathan @ Sg said...

SMRT - A Public Transporter that Went Terribly Wrong with its Business Model

Anonymous said...

Something is terribly wrong with the LTA. How can they used cheap plastic to hold a stress joint ?
Now Singaporeans ought to be extremely concerned with the WHOLE system.

Anonymous said...

A cable tie is designed to tie cables.

In Mustafa they use it to tie up bags of purchase to ensure that after payment, no extra items put in later.

Use on MRT tracks for repair???

My goodness.

Hum Yee Fan Sang said...

Anonymous said...

Good article at:

Anonymous said...

MRT down again. Problem is deep rooted. Becareful, this problem might escalate to a major accident involving two trains with lost of many lives.
This is the price Singaporeans have to pay for allowing LKY n his pap get away with all their nonsence over the last 51 years. The system LKY crafted is unchecked and untested. Now we are seeing all the major defects. The system is rotten at the core and Singaporeans will suffer even more in the future.

Anonymous said...

well written comment.

We dont need terrorists if we have incompetent internal people looking after our communication and transport systems.

Dont just focus on CEO Saw's short comings. The problems and causes may be bigger and might stretch mcuh further back, even beofre she joined.

Wrong incentive and wrong KEY Performance Indicatiors in some organisations. I agree that reversing the privatised status of SMRT and SBS etc may be the best long term solution. Take away the profit motive; focus on providing a truly reliable service for the people.

Anonymous said...

"Take away the profit motive; focus on providing a truly reliable service for the people."
Anon 19/12/11 22:22

You kidding? The key motive of a listed Co is to make profits.

If they make it truly reliable, which is technically possible, they will make less profits if fares are the same.

Everything can be very good, reliable etc etc but it will cost more.

And why do you think they even go into the retail space business?

Anonymous said...

let Lui run the show

After all he has taken over control already.. rolled up his sleeves, walked around stations, ordered people around.

Saw has been pushed back to the shadows, only to reappear to say "sorry" and also to take the sack.

Too bad fo these people.. once they have tasted Lexus cars, fly first class, stay in 5 star hotels all for free ( paid by company expense of course ).. free blackberries.. large bunglows.. they will find it very hard to downgrade into a terrace house.

And maybe fly EY.. that is why, people like Georgies, Lim H H must find jobs that can offer at least business class. Otherwise lose face. Not only to local people but international too.

SPH should do an interview with these people.. ask them how do they cope with zero lion dance and zero manpower to "look" into issues.
No access to statistics and data.

It is the lost of face that is important.. not the money (??)

Anonymous said...

To Anon 20/12/11 11:17:

To be an ex PAP minister is very good for job resume.

Which is why Lim H H and George Yeo have been "snapped up" by the private sector.

But whether they are paid their previous million $ salaries or even more, we don't know. But their private sector job title looks OK so the pay must be also quite OK.

So what lost of face or money you talking about?

Anonymous said...

Interesting story about cronyism in SMRT.from TOC's Robert Teh

The root of the problems faced by Singapore as can be seen in SMRT is cronyism.

Minister Lui should know better that if a professionally qualified CEO has been appointed in the first instance, the so-called “heavy use”, “extra wear and tear due to 26% influx of foreign labor” would have been preempted by such a person with appropriate preventative maintenance to ensure nevertheless smooth maintenance and operations notwithstanding heavy traffic and overstress.

Minister should have such foresight and insight in looking after people’s interests and not seek to explain away failures on behalf of incompetencies of cronies.

He should learn from this lesson not to allow cronyism to happen in his ministry and start to motivate and empower all the professionals like engineers and technically trained specialists in the respective fields to grow in their careers currently being blocked by opportunists due to cronyism as this is the best way to go forward to govern Singapore as a truly competitive knowledge-based economy.

Anonymous said...

A typical example of cronyism by Ms Saw.

Deputy President & Chief Operating Officer
SMRT Corporation Ltd
Yeo Meng Hin, 46, is responsible for the train, bus, taxi business units, Safety, Security and Emergency Planning, organisation Development Unit as well as SMRT’s business development in Singapore and overseas.

Prior to SMRT, Mr Yeo was part of the top management team for DFS Asia Pacifi c Operations with expertise in strategic oversight of the business.
He has worked in a diverse range of industries including hospitality, fast food, professional services, property and fi nancial services. Besides human resource, he has experience in logistics and consultancy.
Mr Yeo is a member of the SAFRA staff establishment
committee, a member of iCare Mental Health Alliance, which promotes good health practices among companies
in Singapore, and sits on the HR Accreditation Board of the Singapore Human Resources Institute. He is
also a member of the steering committee to the Saudi-Singapore Business Council.
A graduate from the National University of Singapore with a Bachelor of Arts (Economics), Mr Yeo also holds a
Masters in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and a Graduate Diploma in Personnel Management. He is also a Certifi ed Compensation
Professional and a Global Remuneration Professional

What can we say NOW !!!

Anonymous said...

As you reported I can see that what a mess someone has created by making MS Saw as CEO. This woman is without a clue as to the engineering aspects of her job, being in retail development in DFS. Yet she accentuated her weakness in a vital requirement by getting in Mr Yeo Meng Hin as her Chief Operating Officer . Mr Yeo was from her previous company DFS in the HR department. In an engineering intensive environment like the MRT, the two top executives have no clue of engineering.What a cosy arrangement to fatten themselves at the expense of the citizenry. All this I understand from Robert Teh to have been initiated by the Dowager when she propped up Ms Saw in SMRT. Blood boils.

Anonymous said...

In the Singapore context, if engineers are just only good in engineering and technical work, it is hard for them to rise very high up in the organisation.

That's why top positions are usually filled by non engineer or non technical people like finance, business, law, arts or accountancy graduates.

Those engineers who rise to top management positions usually spend more time in management than engineering jobs in their career. So most probably also not that good in things engineering.

So it is no surprise that top management of engineering and related companies, especially listed ones focus on profit and shareholder returns, are non engineers.

Anonymous said...

Just came back from Hong Kong. Very impress with their infrastructure and especially MTR able to crater with the crowd. Shopping malls were crowded too. Hardly see any shops that hang adver for rent. Staff spoke Cantonese so I belive all local were employed in most shops. When I reached Singapore, walked into the shop, I was served by sickening pinoeys where I hardly understand what she spoke. Are we so hardup to be have foreigners to work as cashiers? Are all Singaporean gone?

Anonymous said...

"Are we so hardup to be have foreigners to work as cashiers? Are all Singaporean gone?"
Anon 20/12/11 14:23

It is easier and cheaper to get foreigners to work as cashiers.

Singaporeans are not gone, they are still around. They rather, or can afford to be jobless than to accept the type of pay for the type of job.

It's that simple.

Anonymous said...

"Singaporeans are not gone, they are still around. They rather, or can afford to be jobless than to accept the type of pay for the type of job."

I disagree that they can afford to be jobless. A few years ago, my brother looked for an odd-job at NTUC but was rejected even when he is willing and experience to do it. For god sake, NTUC pasted the advertisement looking for staff but they were too choosy instead. So pls do your homework before you comment. No offend.

Anonymous said...

How do we prevent the spread of cronyism in Singapore?

GE 2016.
Vote wisely.

Anonymous said...

GE 2016.
Vote wisely.
ANON 20/12/11 19:45

Sure. They had voted wisely for 46 years and of course will do so again in 2016.

Anonymous said...

"A few years ago, my brother looked for an odd-job at NTUC but was rejected even when he is willing and experience to do it."
Anon 20/12/11 16:22

Your brother may be willing but he may not necessarily be happy or satisfied with the job or the pay.

Whereas for foreigners, they are likely happier and more satisfied than locals with the job and pay. Or so the employers think. That's why foreigners are preferred over locals for odd jobs.

Xianlong said...

COO & CFO of smrt resigned earlier this year as listed in smrt announcements on Departure of 2 key figures. Perhaps something is not right inside. Head of Maintainance resigned last year.

Anonymous said...

CEO Saw is only a woman, is there a need to be so harsh on her?

Anonymous said...

There's a lot more anger bcos of the unjustifiably high salaries, bonuses, etc that CEOs n Ministers are getting plus the perpectual boasting that everything here is world class.Its just too much greed.Wd they work at their same job if they were paid one-third their salaries- sure.They are laughing at the amt they are getting.They never dreamed they wd get so much-impossible to finish in their lifetime.All this rot starts from the top - the PM/Ministers.
There's no minimum wage in Sg- the lower level see their salary go lower. There's no cap on the max salary for the Ministers,top civil servants,GLC mgt- the sky is the limit.
Did Saw bring up to her bosses the need to change policies,invest in infrastructure etc ?Her hiring of ex-DFS colleague as deputy speaks poorly of her.
Your suggestion to privatise & even subsidise if necessary is the solution-will they ever even want to think about it?

Anonymous said...

The next blow-up would be the expensive health care system. The middle-class is being screwed.
When are you people going to feel the pain inflicted by the PAP?

I hope those 60% felt the pain when they are stuck in the MRT. I hope they feel the pain when they next pay for their medical bills. Thank you ex- Heath minister for screwing the middle-class up.

Anonymous said...

I believe most of Singaporeans reactions to this case is due to the poor communication systems. Passengers were not properly informed about the breakdown, resulting in great inconvenience.

Anonymous said...

Well,the management will always push the fault and responsibilities downward to the lowest level by using all their procedures.just like the workman always blame his tools!

Jhon Staphen said...

Check out the services here. We have place thousands of people from the whole world to Singapore.
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michael jordan said...

One of the major Land Transport Authority (LTA) Singapore is going to build new MRT stations on North-South line.These works are going to begin in 2015 and expected to completed by 2019.In this project 3 MRT stations will get upgraded.Total cost for this comes nearly S$11.7 million.With these lines passengers traveling towards city are able to save 10 minutes.It is the good thing for the passengers.Hope to see more MRT stations in future.

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