New SMRT CEO To Desmond Kuek: No “Deep-Seated Cultural Issues”

SMRT CEOs Paint Very Different Pictures Of Company

Just over a year ago, former SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek blamed the company’s troubles on its “deep-seated cultural issues“.

His comments came after the flooding of an MRT tunnel near Bishan in October 2017.

But on Friday (18 Nov), Mr Kuek’s successor denied that there were such issues. In a strongly-worded rebuke to Mr Kuek, Mr Neo Kian Hong told reporters,

I do not agree with the term (deep-seated cultural issues), because that’s not my experience when I engage with the ground.

The ground, according to him, comprises everyday Singaporeans who want to do their best for the public transport system.

He added that for staff to perform, good leadership is essential. The thinly-veiled criticism of Mr Kuek’s 6-year tenure as SMRT CEO was hard to miss.

On the ground

Since taking the reins of SMRT in August, Mr Neo has made an effort to paint himself as a “fellow commuter”. In this vein, he sold his car and relies on public transport to get to work.

He has also stepped up visits to SMRT engineering crew, both in the day and at night.

Commenting on the experience, Mr Neo said,

In the few months that I have been here, I was able to visit stations in the day and walk the tunnels in the night. (Staff) take pride in their work, and come to work daily, committed to doing their best.

Brighter days for SMRT?

Mr Neo’s comments came as he unveiled internal moves aimed at improving rail reliability.

Commuters will cheer SMRT’s renewed commitment to being a public transport service provider over anything else. Mr Neo said,

Our primary business is to manage and operate train services. The quality and reliability of our rail services will have an impact on the quality of life of Singaporeans.

Singapore’s rail network is set to expand to 360km by 2030, forming the backbone of transport in the city.

Featured image from SMRT Corporation and MINDEF.

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