SMRT “awash in collective shame” during 30th anniversary of rail operations: CEO Desmond Quek

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Instead of celebrating its 30th anniversary of rail operations on Tuesday this week, transport operator SMRT was “awash in collective shame because a few of our staff had let us down,” SMRT CEO Desmond Quek said in an email to employees.

7 Nov 2017 not only marked 30 years since rail operations began in Singapore, it was also the same day that Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan delivered a ministerial statement on the MRT tunnel flooding incident which led to a 20-hour service breakdown on the North-South Line, affecting a quarter of a million commuters, exactly a month before.

Investigations revealed that the flooding – which was the first such incident in the history of Singapore – was “preventable” had the pump system at Bishan been regularly maintained.

However, it was discovered that an SMRT staff team that was supposed to conduct maintenance works on the system every three months falsified paperwork that works were completed when no work was carried out for nearly a whole year.

Khaw told the House on Tuesday: “The SMRT team responsible for maintaining the Bishan storm water sump pit had neglected their duties, falsified records and failed us.”

A day after Khaw ministerial statement – where Khaw flagged that the CEO himself should be responsible for the cultural issues within SMRT – Quek wrote an email to all employees and emphasised the importance of integrity, ownership and responsibility.

He added that without these qualities “things can go horribly wrong. As it did.”

Referring to the staff members involved in the record-falsification saga, Quek said:

“They did not do what they were entrusted to. Their supervisors assumed that nothing would go wrong just because it hadn’t gone wrong before. Possibly they thought no one would notice, or care. Maybe it was always deemed to be someone else’s problem.”
Advising his staff to “take the lessons seriously” Quek added:
“We had worked so hard to come this far, but when some of us fail to do what’s right or do the right thing, we have nothing more to say but apologise to the nation.”
He also encouraged his staff by saying “we have not lost if we learn.” Quek urged his staff to make it their duty to step forward to correct or report any wrongdoing and communicate openly with their peers:
“It is not the mistake that defines a person or an organisation, but how we learn from it, rising to be stronger and better.
“This will be a crucial new beginning for SMRT if we commit ourselves to a culture of discipline and excellence in providing safe, reliable, commuter-focused public transport services that Singaporeans can be proud of.
“Take the responsibility, walk the talk, own the outcome. Let’s press on. We will get there.”

Khaw Boon Wan goes off script during ministerial statement on MRT flooding issue: “If there is poor work culture, the CEO is responsible.”

42 COMMENTS

  1. 4

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    To follow up on NEW PAP party chairman KBW’s citation on “harakiri”, in the good old days samurai (almost like SAF officers/generals except our SAF officers/generals not up to that grade) wld show sincerity for their failures & wash away their shame by seppuku.
    NTUC Fairprice likely have year-end promotion on cutlery; cheap cheap to buy some choppers if SMRT mgmt has any ounce of honor/shame.
    Btw, MOT Minister KBW said abt harakiri, not me. Anyone honorable enuff to harakiri, pls look for the Penang Cow next Seventh Month.

  2. 7

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    Fare hikes every single year since 2011, due to rising maintenance cost. But in the end, where has it gone to? Not done, invalidated… until it’s been uncovered? What now? Who’s gonna pay for these repair cost and even roping in the DSTA engineers and Taiwanese train expets… who pays? Commuters gets penalised every year and even fined for fare cheats…. What now? Would SMRT be penalised and pay back to the commuters??

  3. 0

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    Who asks u to work So hard!
    Work Right for Efficiency, Productivity and Excellence.(Bill Gates)
    Apologize to the nation, when SOME OF US fail to do what right OR do the right thing is normal. As kindergarten childrens are also taught even when they were tender nuts.
    In return u earn back your dignity.
    And the world will forgives u.
    if not u have save your’s party at least u save our’s Nation.

  4. 2

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    Too bad our founding Father is being cremated, if he were to be buried by now he would have get up from his grave and give all of them a tight slap on their face and than found out who is the leader who caused all this problem and fire them. Now you know why they insist on cremation over buried. Must be Chan Chun Sing who can predict this is going to happen. He should be the next PM.

  5. 3

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    But u guys namely the Minister, the Chairman & the CEO staying put right? As in, not stepping down with immediate effect with heads hung low? So still talking what now? Talk until it’s a cold day in hell or what? The 3 of you not worthy anymore for your respective appointments. Go lah.

  6. 0

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    still shameless, ewl down right now bugis to queenstown but no announcement as i entered the station and boarded the stalled train . i left the train after checking mrtok.com . long queue at control center as ppl needed to exit without paying fare! how about streamline it so that if u exit station within 10 mins its free. don’t waste everyones time including control center staff

  7. 2

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    DAFT SG VOTED FOR THE JIA LIAO BEE MINISTERS IN PARLIAMENT TRULY WASTING TAXPAYERS’ MONIES TO PAY THEM MILLIONS OF DOLLARS SALARIES.

    THIS IS MY REBUTTAL TO CHEE HONG TAT AND KHAW BG:

    1) CHEE HONG TAT VS WP MEMBER

    https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10208307643208938&id=1839725545

    2) FOREIGN TRASH KHAW BG SAID SMRT CEO “VOLUNTEERED” FOR THE JOB?? SHOULDN’T A VOLUNTEER TAKE NO SALARY? BUT WHY PAID IN MILLIONS OF $ PLUS BONUSES FOR THE PAST YRS??
    WHO RECRUITED THIS “HIGHLY PAID VOLUNTEER”?

    https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10208314114010704&id=1839725545