Netizens flame Khaw for saying million-dollar earning SMRT CEO volunteered for the job, “has heart in the right place.”


Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan’s remarks this week on the widespread issues plaguing the Singapore public transport system has been dominating headlines, and his comments on SMRT CEO Desmond Quek have especially been excoriated online.

During the parliamentary debate following his ministerial statement on the 7 Oct MRT tunnel flooding incident, Khaw threw his weight behind the SMRT top executive and revealed:

“He wasn’t parachuted in or being asked to go and fix this, he volunteered for this job. As the former chief of defence force, I know his heart is in the right place.”

Netizens flamed the Minister’s comments online, asserting that whether his heart is in it or not, skills and management abilities are the most important. They also questioned the Minister’s use of the word “volunteer” in referring to a top executive who is paid millions of dollars to do his job:

Carey Wong: Wah, didnt know got no selection process – all of us would have gladly volunteered for half his pay

Kenny Chong: Many workers who were fired from their jobs for poor performance ‘volunteered’ for their jobs too and were subjected to assessment of qualification, skills, relevant experience etc. Mind you he is not a fresh grad applying for a fresh grad job. Volunteering or not is besides the point. The real mysteries are:

1) Who else ‘volunteered’ or were ‘headhunted’ for the job?
2) How was he deemed best candidate given that he has no experience running a commercial public company nor engineering/rail operations?
3) How does his compensation commensurate with his qualification and experience, or the lack thereof, viz-a-viz that of HK MTR and Taipei MRT CEOs?
4) What KPIs were set for him over the last 5 years and to what extent he has achieved them?
5) In lieu of his last 5 years performance based the KPIs set, how does his earnings stack up against his achievements or underachievements?

Daniel Wong: What an own goal…What happened to “We interviewed over 20 top tier executives for the job and the board of directors picked the best candidate for this critical role”?

James Lim: I did not realise one can volunteer for such an important position, and still appointed without the necessary experience or expertise. Must be great to be in a privileged position.

Willy Kou: I also have the heart to do that job , I am also sure my heart is in the right place, just that I don’t have the talent or ability to do it right

Wong Fei Hong: Desmond volunteered for million dollars paycheck cause he thought it was a cozy job just like mr cow!

Huey Yap: So is he trying to say that since he volunteered for the job he shouldn’t be asked to step down because it is not nice? Since this is a serious business, you shouldn’t let someone without experience to run it even if he had volunteered to do so. Period.

Can I volunteer to be a minister then?

Getting the wrong person to helm such a big company is a disaster waiting to happen. It’s already happening and it is proven.

Jonus Jun: Mr khaw never failed to impress me with his choice of words,
1) he wasnt parachute into the job
2) he has a right heart for the job
3) he volunteered for the job
I wan to ask the following :
1) who introduced him to this job
2) who interviewed him for this job
3) why was he offered rhe job without the right experience, even if he volunteered..
4) Who agreed to pay him such a high salary
5) ‘ his heart is in a right place’, shldnt he work for NKF or some charity organization?
6) was he given a tenure if he can’t get the problem fixed?
I think all these questions needs to be address so that the next appointed CEO they will get the right candidate

Derick Choo: It makes me want to puke everytime this KBW talks. Volunteer for a super pay job, this is probably the oxymoron of the year. Notice how he keeps indirectly defending the SMRT top management, and when it comes to bonus issue, he diverted it away and lump it with the amnesty offer and unions? He is again indirectly saying bonus issue only affects those below and not top managment? You engage unqualified people for the top jobs and when the system fails, you blame the bottom people. Amazing!

Teo Woon Hun: he may have the heart to want to do something different for SMRT or he was overconfident about his own abilities….whatever the reason…he failed…five years is a long time….he should step down and let someone else try…

Teo Ricky: Khaw bw, tai-chi champion of the year , if our Singapore founding father is around, you will be replace with immediate effect.

TW Ng: Minister Khaw needs to see his doctor soon. What he is saying does not make logical sense anymore. If a high level politician is not able to rationalise logically, he should step down in the best interest of the country.

James Lim: Volunteer for the job that doesn’t mean he is experienced and qualified to fit the job. What he has been working as a CEO of SMRT is disappointing and shld be replaced without saying.

Suresh Kumar: What kind of nonsenses is this, ‘Volunteer ‘?
People volunteer without any monetary gains. In this case, taking million salary, bonus & call it volunteer. KBW, you better step down. You’re the main culprit in selecting someone who is not capable of handling to run the SMRT. Now, the entire SMRT fails in all aspects.

David Lee Hon Fen: My friend visited IMH this morning told me all the “residents” there want to “volunteer” to be transport minister! Alternatively, SMRT CEO also can!

Ad Ye: Oh my, I wonder how many other ex army paper generals have ‘volunteered’ for top positions in the private sector. We know there is one in SPH now.

Lim Dom: I will volunteer for his job half price and perform same as him with no solution for delay blaming for the culture he set for last 5 years!

David Lim: He volunteered and you gladly give him the million dollars job without assessing other suitable candidates ?? If this is not Parachuting in then what the f is ??

Terry Dean: If his heart was in the right place the deep seated cultural issues would had been rectified by now. If his heart was in the right place he wouldnt be pocketing such high salary n bonuses year after year.

Melvyn Leong: This minister of transport has been giving numerous nonsensical lang jiao wei (LJW). From train break down due to overpopulation, unable to cater load and now “oh he volunteer for it” Doesn’t make any sense. Total disgrace.

Lawrence Koh: When SMRT is willing to pay him Millions of dollars, that’s why he volunteers. After 5 years, can you imagine how much salary he has accumulated. He can now retired happily.

Johanes Pkmi: This is just SHAMELESS…better dun say “volunteer”…say already just made things worse… volunteer take millions and screw commuters with all the breakdown..

Keith Ang: Ehhh no problem i also wanna volunteer. I charge a quarter of his salary only. My heart is definately at the right place. Save money for u all

Judas Nathan: Now I know why my application to smrt not received. I am qualified Singaporean born engineer and have 25 years of experience in Engineering management. I applied for a management position in Smrt and SBS for past 5 years and have yet to received any reply from them. From what I heard only by recommendation cum volunteer they are selected. What has happened to Democracy? Now you know why the failure happen! Good workers are being neglected.


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    Mr Kuek, better do yourself a favour, quit while u can, 5years is a long time for you to figure out if you can manage… Obviously, you are trying at our expense and highly paid OJT … Dont taint your name further and be remembered for being worse than last Ceo Saw. At least she didnt try but you tried but unknowingly…

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    Ex CDF Desmond Kuek did not only fail to fix the SMRT’s problems but things became worse under his watch. Yet he was allowed to keep his job and continued to pocket bonuses year after year. Where in the world can anyone find a CEO post with a five year probationary period? It is as if SMRT is Desmond Kuek’s father’s company!

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    KBW you blind or what. Look at the fuck face DK!. A Donkey can give a better photography charm.

    Make Millions, can’t perform yet give such a long face, touches the ground & grow roots!.

    Remove him out of SMRT maybe MRT will improve. Such F face is a jinx to the MRT system!

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    Hokkien saying: Smart can already, don’t be overly smart.

    He think he is so talented to VOLUNTEER for the job!. Make me vomit & diarrhea!

    More like a failure beginning to eye your journey to be a WHITE TERMITE. Look at his disappointed F face. End of journey to be in Parliament DK!

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    All You keyboard warriors, why don’t you spend your time petitioning for Low Thia Khiang or Kenneth Jayaratnam or Cheepanzee to volunteer for Transport Minister or SMRT CEO?!

    It has never been done before because no one from the opposition parties has ever volunteered!

    It’s rather stupid to keep complaining and commenting an obvious problem BUT NO ONE OFFERS A SOLUTION! Does it hurt your brain to think of one workable solution? Maybe no one wanna suggest because they don’t want to be held accountable for anything!

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    This is a disease that has infected the entire Singapore establishment – whenever something goes wrong, deny responsibility.
    So many things have gone wrong in this country in the past 10 years and each time, the key people who should have taken responsibility and resigned have gotten away scot free.
    In Singapore today, incompetence and mistakes can only be attributed to the lower ranks. Upper echelons are untouchable and unimpeachable

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    By defending the the top executives, blaming the junior staffs, my Guess is , wait to be sabotage by these junior staffs.

    When you pay high salaries to people without experience in running public transport, and peanuts to junior staffs , you are in for trouble to happen.

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    In Singapore, is not what you know, it who you know to get the job. Good example, ex CEO saw and now the 3 stars Paper General.

    There must be something wrong with this system of governance and need to be replaced fast or else the whole country will becomes a PIGs farm.

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    KBW is being naive,anybody worth his salt would ‘ki’ chiu’ when the million pay cheque is in front of him. He gave him the job without considering whether he has the necessary experience to run the train system when he is fresh from the arm force. These so called generals from SAF are only qualified by a piece of shitty paper. While as a general in peaceful Sg what can they learned except to be served by those below him. Similarly for those parachuted generals as CEO in govt agencies. They could only talk loud and command and manage as if they are still in SAF.

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    It was already happened so the relavent department of.SMRT solve the problem.What has happemed let SMRT solve the matter n if you were in that position what will you do.Surely you felt guilthy n worried n who knows maybe you lost sleep because of your carelessness n lack.of tour responsiblities.Learn your work in future n not to repeat the mistake.Have a good thinking wisely.Tks.

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    No what language he tries to use to justify the hiring. This tai chi $8/- Minister is not to able to convince the public regarding the failure of this “volunteer”CEO who was paid an insane amount of salary even higher than the President of the United States and for 5 years was not able to change the so called corporate culture of the company.
    In other countries he would have been shown to door long ago but then this is Singapore where WHITE is the New Black and it remains and reigns supreme

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    Give him a chance guys to get his yr end bonuses ,hope he stands for the PAP in the next round so that he be protected from his enemies whom are also the media ,bad publicity is free publicity for him that justifies his good behaviour for a future PAP candidate.

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    Anyway, the crux of the whole matter is very obvious… MOT-LTA-SMRT are playing Ping Pong. The ball is always at the other parties court. But, while they Ping Pong, the employees of companies become unproductive, thanks to Transport Delays. So, while these multi-millionaires point Fingers at each other…. the economy suffers, thanks to 3rd World Transport Operation. Great job guys. It does not take an economist to calculate the Financial impact of workers arriving late for work or waking up way early to catch other transportation due to the crappy transportation situation in Singapore. ‍♂️‍♂️‍♂️