Is the SMRT a poison chalice?

This is the question posed by a Dr Lee Siew Peng in a letter of encouragement to the new CEO Neo Kian Hong. This is the first para of the article posted in TRE.
“Dear Mr Neo

I trust that “Congratulations” are in order for your new appointment. Some people see this job as a kind of poisoned chalice. Hopefully your big risk will lead to big rewards. Not just for you, but for the Singapore travelling public.”

If one were to look at the records of SMRT, from the performance of the train system and the fate of its CEOs and whoever foolishly thought it was wise to dabble with the organisation, the poison chalice suggestion is not too far from the truth. It was not like that when it was built in the 1980s. It had a fair ride for a couple of decades and the pride of Singapore, something that we could boot about.

Thanks to the man behind this train, past President Ong Teng Cheong. Could anyone attempt to trace the change in fortune of the SMRT from the demise of the late President and see if there is any correlation in the two events?

The reputation of the SMRT was at its peak during the tenure of Saw Phaik Wah, then CEO. It was reporting big profits year after year and she was the toss of the SMRT party when they carried her around like Cleopatra to recognise her great contribution and her greatness.

Alas, this was not to last, like the proverbial saying, pride before the fall. Everything fell apart after that infamous Company Dinner and Dance. It was like a house of cards, or a house built on straw or mud. How could the problems sprouted out so fast and so drastically that daily breakdown became a norm and multiple times a day. And on several occasions practically the whole system was run to a stop for several hours. And then accidents came one after another with two technicians killed on the track while on a training stint. And this was not all, fore the second time, after several decades, the trains collided, oops, it was reported that they came into contact with each other, and tens of people were hurt. Luckily no serious injuries.

What about the CEOs, Saw Phaik Wah had left. Her successor Desmund Kuek is leaving. Khaw Boon Wan’s reputation as a trouble shooter and the man to solve all problems is in tatters, unable to do much to the problems that kept cropping out in the system despite human and financial resources being poured into the SMRT.
Don't forget the several ministers that had to leave quietly after their bad stint in the ministry.

And a few day’s back, the army colonel brought in by Desmund Kuek is also in the news for all the wrong reasons, arrested for drink driving in the wee hours of the morning. What else can go wrong to the SMRT and its top management?

Neo Kian Hong is taking over the chalice from Desmund Kuek. Would it be confirmed that it is really a poison chalice? Should someone be praying or burning more incense to appease the spirits to take away the poison in the chalice? From the noises in the social media, it looks like Neo is standing on weak sand.

Perhaps a sai kong or bomoh or witch or whatever maybe welcomed if they can turn the poison chalice to a bowl of red wine. Are the problems of SMRT over? Maybe they should be looking for someone that is blessed to helm this organisation. A lucky fool may be good for the time being.


Anonymous said...

The problems of SMrt is not created overnight but due to mis-management & oversight of the entire management team, like Quaky said deep cultural issues that not even the paper gen can solve. Changing its Ceo to another army gen is like 换汤不换药 or changing its soup but not its ingredients or medicine. The fate of Smrt is more or less same same la.

Anonymous said...

"Birds who are born in a cage think flying is an illness."
- Alejandro Jodorowsky

Do you think this is why only pap(er) Generals seem to be qualified to manage SMRT?

Leo 81 said...

"Too bad that all the people who know how to run the country are busy driving taxicabs and cutting hair."

George Burns, a centenarian who died in 1996

Anonymous said...

If the World-Best Government of Singapore cannot solve the MRT problems over 11 long looong years, NOBODY in the Universe can.

This case alone is enough proof to show that the Ministers, especially the Prime Minister, do not deserve the World-Best salary and bonuses the have been giving themselves, on the premise that they are Outstanding talents and Incorruptible.

The long and deep-rooted problem of the Overall Transportation System is Cultural Problem, as inadvertently pointed out by SMRT CEO, Desperate Quack?

Anonymous said...

Father became nepot.
Son became goondu.
Minsters became profiteers.
Servants became serpents.
Talents became wood.
In 25 short yrs.
All becos of more money n more power.

Anonymous said...

A culture problem requires a cultural revolution to be led by A Gang of Four, to be headed by someboLee with similar name to Chiang Ching, the Supremo Mao Zedong's Treacherous Concubine.

Nothing else.

LHL should step down as PM and become Minister Menthol Cigar. Holely JINX should replace him as PeeAim.

What do you guys say?

Anonymous said...

Khaw Boon Wan pales in comparison to Goh Keng Swee, but his salary is so much more .

Anonymous said...

The Cabinet musicals announced yesterday showed that it was all for pure entertainment only.

Nothing of significant came out of it. As usual, old wine is poured into new bottles.

None of the 4G Ministers have taken over as DPM. The two old cocks still refused to give up their lucrative pay for their chicken-feeding jobs.

No MPs have been promoted to Ministerial posts.

Bad apples and rotten eggs are still in the Cupboard of Skeletons.

Disgrace Fool is now given the power to make sure the Country's Culture becomes totally DISGRACEFUL.

Dracula continues in the position to make more Dracula Laws.

The Crow is allowed to continue crowing to earn his sweet millions without sweat.

ESM Wooden, the Drift Wood has become a dead wood.

The Pink Panther has poised himself to become the Oldest Pink Panther in Sinkieland's His-story.

No sign of the next Pink Panther in the horizon. Still reserving the SEAT for his own SEED.


Wan Sui, Wan Sui, Wan Wan Sui!


Anonymous said...

How much Desmond Kwek got paid in total? Tens of millions of dollars??!?

I don't mind drinking this poisoned chalice ... 1 or 2 year's salary will get me more retirement FU money than 90% of sinkies who have to work until drop dead.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Margaret Teo, Alvin Kek will be thr most popular SMRT EMPLOYEE OF THE APRIL FOOL's MONTH!

SMRT's Culture Problem is that of Sabotaging.

The latest sabotage has been done by the SMRT Comms Officer upon the Chief Operations Officer, who was arrested for drink driving at the Causeway Check Point last week.

Initially, the Comms Officer, Margaret Teo, when asked by reporters, requested for respect of personal privacy for the COO Alvin Kek.

But a few days later, Margaret being a woman of gossip, just could not keep to her own plea of privacy. She revealed a personal detail of Alvin Kek to the public.

What is it? Go read the "big news".

The Cultural Problem is is very much alive and kicking, despite more than $12 million paid to Desmond Quek to solve the problem. He will be laughing to his banks everyday, giving a pat on his own back. He may also buy a Ferrari like the previous CEO of SMRT, the Chief Sales Girl of Duty Free Goods Establishment?

Anonymous said...

Nathaneh n Tonietann were sleeping n approving so many cock-up inexperienced farts into key posns...millions to just signed off. Pinkie n holiejinx empitomized the cock-up appts. Pappies all gay n happy collecting millions...homerun all the way...sinkiees you died your business.

Ⓜatilah $ingapura⚠️ said...

In cuntries like Malaysia, Thailand, Japan...there is a "freer" market for public transport. Tokyo, for e.g. is a heavy network of trains and buses with only small amount of govt ownership. All the trains and lines and buses are privately owned.

SMRT is a monopoly. That already sucks. Power is concentrated, and a past CEO even fancied herself as a "queen", being carried by hunky male "slaves" as if to say she just conquered some cuntry in the ancient world.

When the population swells to beyond 6 million (very soon), and then 6.5...7...and so on (this is the "growth model" for our present lunatic plans for "nation building")... I doubt SMRT will be able to cope with the surge in use. Already at peak periods, the trains are jammed. If a line breaks down, forget about your plans. Unless you shell out big bucks for rideshare, you might as well WALK to your destination.

Anonymous said...

One Mr Cheang Peng Wah wrote to ST Forum expressing his ALARM after hearing the 13,700 people per sq km density figure quoted by HDB Chief Ms Cheong.

He pointed out that Singapore’s land area is only about 720 sq km. Hence, with this high density figure, Singapore's population size could go up to 9,864,000, or nearly 10 million, by 2030.

He said this was NOT the figure projected in the Population White Paper of 2013, which projected a 6.9 million population.

When asked on what basis or principles did she planned for such a high density population by 2030, Ms Cheong refused to answer. Instea, she said, " I have the right to answer whichever questions I want!"

Such arrogance that reflects her intelligence or stupidity? What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Jobs paying multi-millions a year are reserved - for themselves, their cronies and their pets (local or foreign). They know that whether paper general or whoever they choose to head SMRT does not make a difference as the problems are too deep rooted and are tied as much to the faulty train system as to their lunatic population policy. So they might as well put a paper general there to benefit from the millions of dollars.

Greed, deception, betrayal, incompetence, arrogance, selfishness, stupidity - hallmarks of those who are holding absolute power here.

Anonymous said...

When a dynasty is at its last stage of decline, nepotism and cronyism become overwhelmingly pronounced and shamelessly displayed without any feeling of guilt.

They become so normal that there is no need to even consider what the public will perceive.

If there is any criticism, just cough out any lame excuse will do.

The running dogs and shoe-polishers at the state media will know what to do. Nothing to worry unnecessarily.

The main idea is to put the loyalists in all the positions of control, command and power. Reward these sycophants and cronies well and they will always be loyal -
afraid of losing the $millions every year. Their balls can easily be squeezed if they go out of line or tune.

Money becomes the main motivator for even the highest integrity of man. It's MAGIC.

Alice in Wonderland. Dream on.

Anonymous said...

" Perhaps a sai kong or bomoh or witch or whatever maybe welcomed if they can turn the poison chalice to a bowl of red wine. "

Many months back Ah Kow assemble a group of 'holy' people of different faiths to bless or catch the evils spirits (if there is)in sMrt new downtown line opening but it was of no use at all. Maybe the ' evils spirits ' were angry then bcos it was not given the same treatment in the old NS mrt line which resulted in tunnel flooding after tat. Now they bring in the new Ceo, he would b in trouble if he can't catch those 'electrical ghosts' or signal issues though he is electrically trained, he need to be sent to Japs or China to learn the Art of Ghost catching else he would lose big as these ghost r the force to b reckon with, May the Force b with u - Neo ah, let's wait n see whether this one is a good ghost catcher or not.

Anonymous said...

Holy shit, why do we need to have a good ghost catcher? We already have a emeritus 'holy ghost' in our midst, who can do the job just as well. For one thing, he can surely 'feel it in his bones' whether ghost are around to wreak havoc. No need such things as chants, prayers or holy waters. Cheaper, better and faster.

But do take note that his predictions have all been 'tall tall tales'. Like goal 2010, Swiss standard of living and more good years. You have to wait long long or as they say 'tan ku ku'.

Anonymous said...

"Are the problems of MRT over"?

Since it is a long festering cancer that was ignored for decades, how can it be over just by playing a game of musical chairs with the top honcho? And it looks like they think the problems can only be solved by paper generals. What a joke?

The problem with MRT is just more than playing marching music in a military band.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

What is the difference between incorruptible and paid not to be corrupt?

What is the difference between paying for talent and paying not to be corrupt?

Anonymous said...

If SAF Generals are not able to solve peace-time logistical problems (SMRT and NOL), how can they solve war-time problems?

Anonymous said...

Incorruptible means no matter what kinds of desirable attractions, lucrative incentives, coercion, intimidation, blackmail and whatever pressures being applied upon that person, he / she will not buckle. He or she is bound by his own moral and ethical principles to stand firm, upright and tall at all times. This is what INTEGRITY is all about.

Integrity is not measured by how many lawsuits one has won against slender or insults.

On the other hand, when a person is paid very expensively, too good to be true, out-of-this-world salary, bonuses and perks, to persuade him or her not to become corrupt, we must all assume that that person is already corrupt or has an extreme tendency to become corrupt.


Anonymous said...

If a person needs to be paid a ransom in order not to be corrupt, that speaks volumes about how his integrity and moral compass can be shaped with money, and makes a mockery of the word 'incorruptibility'.

Never mind how one goes about making it look above board in every aspect, or used the law to legalise it, it still does not make black into white.

Anonymous said...

Millions dollar pay as public servants is mockery of decency. Its almost equivalent to monks having many mistresses or pastors enriching themselves from church coffers of members contributions. Perverse n indecent.

Anonymous said...

Since want million dollars pay, dont be a public servant getting money from taxpayers. Go n take real risks as a businessman or speculator. Then people have nothing bad to say about getting millions.

Virgo49 said...

Army General Prime Minister

Army General Deputy Prime minister

Army General Speaker of Parliament

Army General NTUC Chief

Army General People's Association

Army General SMRT Corporation

Army General Education Minister

Army General Elections only reserved for Generals Elections

Or is it Army Junta???

Red Dot how many Real Battalions of Real Soldiers so many Army Generals???

Chio See Liangs!!!

Anonymous said...

People get into trouble bcos of luck(Yun qi)
Low.eg quarrel n fight.harmony is balance of deeds.

Anonymous said...

What I know incorruptible means, someone
Not able to corrupt the world anymore.(production of waste eg.)
Can't find such a talent.dosen exsit.

Anonymous said...

Im balanced deeds causes unblanced result.
Eg unblanced car steering vibrate or turn one side
While moving.

Anonymous said...

An emperor without clothes rules this place as if he can live 4ever. Guess his newly appointed guy to run aSsMrT might not last from 1 to 3 years at most, after tat the vicious cycle just repeat by itself, some says its Karma or cause & effect law.

Anonymous said...

//..What is the difference between paying for talent and paying not to be corrupt?//

Paying for talent is like the talent show in Sing China,
Whereas paying not to be corrupt is like it's hard to justify as it depends on a person morality & values cos a person greed is unfathomable & also depends on the persons upbringing & which place or culture where he lives. Remunerating a person not to corrupt is very difficult as China Xi told its officials if they wanto be in rich n wealthy to be in politics then go to a place in Nanyang where they can become very wealthy being a politicians.

Anonymous said...

Never create work to/4 accident!

Anonymous said...

What talents?..only exam smart n use laws to get more....nothing great. Bookworms n lawyers period.

Anonymous said...

No poison chalice lah. Its a sweet smelling rose to be CEO with renumeration of $2mln a year. No downside risk lah. 5 yrs on, cock up still collect $12mln. If do OK, will be hero and collect maybe $20mln. Only in PappiesLand kakilans can get such deals. Its a fake bubble created by sly scheming Pubic serpents, led by one Old man & A Wood & A Pinkie.