SMRT Communications Head to step down, top management shakeup expected

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Patrick Nathan, who served as Vice President of Corporate Communications of SMRT, as well as its top spokesman, is resigning. This comes amidst what may be a significant change in SMRT’s management due to numerous train breakdowns, breaches in safety, as well as growing concern about SMRT’s work culture itself.

When exactly Mr. Nathan leaves office and who his replacement will be has not been disclosed. However, SMRT Chairman Seah Moon Ming has already announced that Elaine Koh will act as chief commuter engagement officer. Ms. Koh has worked in corporate communications for SMRT for a some time now.

Mr. Seah Moon Ming assumed the chairmanship of SMRT only last July, and has declared that he will be a hands-on, pro-active chairman starting next month. By the end of January, he will resign as CEO of Pavilion Energy, an oil and gas company.

Mr. Nathan, 56, is a former national security specialist. Following a vandalism incident in Bishan in 2011, he came on board to lead SMRT’s security and emergency planning department. By 2013 he was appointed SMRT’s head spokesperson after the sudden resignation of his predecessor, Kalai Natarajan. Ms. Natarajan, who only stayed with SMRT for five months, was a longtime PR person.

Many Singaporeans have clamored for a change in SMRT’s management due to a series of train service breakdowns. These calls intensified after the train collision in Joo Koon in which at least 38 individuals were injured, and the unprecedented Bishan tunnel flooding that inconvenienced countless passengers after services along the North-South line were suspended for almost an entire day.

Public outrage against the transport operator grew after investigations into the tunnel flooding revealed that a maintenance team that was supposed to carry out works in the tunnel did not do so for almost one whole year but falsified records that they did.

In light of such incidents, there is speculation that SMRT’s chief executive Desmond Kuek will also resign, since Mr. Seah Moon Ming will be taking a stronger leadership role. However, the public’s biggest concern remains the repair of SMRT’s engineering woes.

Public trust in the current leadership has understandably waned with each SMRT incident or breakdown. In this sense, a change in leadership may give the public an opportunity to rebuild trust in the company.

Many feel that at the end of the day, the leadership of SMRT must take full responsibility for decisions made that affected its performance. In this vein, netizens appear to welcome Mr. Nathan’s resignation while some called for SMRT to address real issues on the ground:

 

72 COMMENTS

  1. Looks like another bunch of generals waiting to collect their multi million dollar booty are being readied to be slotted in. Super talented Desmond and company already earned millions to last another generation. Now to play musical chairs to let others also earn theur share. On the ground not much will change. It will be business as usual. Its meant to keep stupid gullible sinkies quiet.

  2. Incidentally, Patrick Nathan was never an experienced nor proven corporate communication expert as compared to his proven track record in security areas. So why was he even appointed to his current position by SMRT in the first place?

  3. The PAP government is probably looking around to first place their paper general SMRT CEO in another lucrative and high paying appointment before announcing his stepping down.

  4. Communications??? That is the last person who needs to be replaced. But maybe need to step down cause bad news outweighs the good news currently. KPI sure cannot make it.

  5. Train maintenance problems already existed before the water pump event

    Please lah
    Always asked us to do health check up annually
    So could cure cancer at early stage
    And NOT when cancer is at stage 4

    SMRT indeed is sleeping
    Only find toilet paper after shit !!!!

  6. Will high powered Moonie do better? Odds are really against him though. Too much neglect left unattended in the formative years by past incompetence. History may well repeat itself in this MRT saga. Hopefully Desmond, the Paper General will not be ‘volunteered’ into another key government appointment.
    Truly this is the worst government ever in SG. Hearts can never be in the right place when money chokes the mind.

  7. Look at the fancy awards he got last year. Either he was doing a great job or the awards are basically meaningless.

    From Patrick Nathan’s LinkedIn
    1. 2017 Institute of Public Relations’ PRISM Awards: SMRT is winner in Best Investor Relations Programme for SMRT’s Privatisation: Winning the Shareholders’ Hearts and Minds, SMRT is winner in the Best Social or Digital Media Campaign for SMRT Rail Transformation Journey and SMRT gains merit award for Best In-House PR Team of the Year.

    2. 2017 Marketing Magazine’s PR Awards: SMRT wins Silver in Best Investor Relations Programme for SMRT’s Privatisation: Winning the Shareholders’ Hearts and Minds and Silver in Best PR-led Integrated Communications Campaign for SMRT’s New Sunday Start Time Campaign.

    3. 2017 Asia-Pacific Excellence Awards in PR and Communications: SMRT’s Connect App is picked the winner from amongst 2,500 campaigns and projects from South-East Asia.

  8. Great system we have. Self proclaimed virtuous men who also fancy themselves to be stable geniuses certifying others like them through the system of meritocracy. These stable geniuses went on to produce “stellar” results in various fields such as the below:

    a. Shipping: Ng Yat Chung who did so well at NOL that he had nothing left to achieve in the industry and brought his talent to the media and publishing industry with SPH

    b. Transportation: General Kuek who made tremendous improvements in reliability for SMRT. So reliably faulty that most people won’t take it if they have an important appointment.

    c. Real estate: Wong Heaney Fine who was such a fine boss that he released staff into the job market before Chinese New Year last year. Excellence in HR. This year, a company under his Surbana won accolades abroad for creativity in winning contracts (http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-29/smec-hit-by-world-bank-ban-over-bribery-allegations/9001772)

  9. Insanely paid officials who were not worth their salt would probably be placed in some other organization for them to flourish because of their loyalty the the powers that be.
    Seriously Singaporeans should take a hard look at themselves and not turn a blind eye to what will happen time and again.
    As long as they have the majority in Parliament anything can be done to suit their needs. Just take a look what had happened and it’s in plain sight for everyone to see and it’s not hard to figure out what their plans are. 70% of the population gave them a resounding victory and the country have only itself to blame. Things will carry on just as before and protest all they want there is nothing that our Minority MP’s can do. The only solution is to have just as many credible opposition members in Parliament to check on them so policies that are not good for the the people and the country won’t be steamrolled on to the the electorate. So unless we Singaporeans do this, nothing will change and the Powers that be will carry on doing things they think is right for them and the country that they control and not what is good for the people and the country. Take a look people and don’t turn a blind eye to what’s happening just because a few cookies are thrown at you just before an election. It’s just like Trump throwing papers towel rolls at the Puerto Ricans during his recent visit the the state, it signifies nothing and in no way helpful.

    • Sunny don’t blame the insanely official blame us as a whole we put ‘them’ in power to give the insanely paid official. Time to relook at ourselves lah ☺️

    • Comms was not the cause of SMRT’s problem, but effective comms and PR could have mitigated it better. Professional comms person would have advised the CEO from blaming staff openly, the ‘culture’ excuse and instead appeal for sympathy – ‘we screwed up, we will rectify it but it will take some time and cause some inconvenience’. Won’t make the situation better, but won’t make it worse!

  10. You guys are not seeing the big picture. Whose hands are moving the chess pieces? Remove the chess player! Can’t do that, then it’s the same thing again.

  11. Remove the chairman or CEO of TOMASICK or GIC, these problems will be solved. If the useless head is not remove, it will be the same, appointing all useless jokers just to buy time and waste tax-payer money.

    I hope the next CEO will not be a volunteer and get million dollars salary. If SMRT cannot find one, I will volunteer at $500k, a 50% discount, ok

  12. Accident and breakdowns but chief communication step down? Where is the logic? It is like CFO step down when HR got problems. How is communication officer resignation going to help with the breakdown and accidents?? NO LOGIC!!! the person to go is kwek and the operation chief!!!!

  13. Volunteer for CEO should not be paid high salaries.”As this is part of their social responsibilities.”Just couldnt understand,why Singapore mindset must pay high salary to these Volunteers.” Is this abuse of the tax payers $$$$”

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