SMRT Fires 8 Staff Responsible For Bishan Flooding, But Singaporeans Still Upset With CEO Desmond Kuek

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Singaporeans Still Calling For Desmond Kuek To Resign As SMRT CEO

“You can’t please everyone.”

That must be what SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek is thinking these days.

Especially since Singaporeans are still pinning the blame on him despite having just taken action on those responsible for the Bishan Tunnel Flooding that happened in last month in October.

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Did we mention that they’re also calling for his resignation?

Poor guy just can’t seem to catch a break.

Investigation concluded, actions taken

On Monday (27 Nov), SMRT posted on their website that investigations into the staff responsible for the October Flooding Incident had concluded.

Based on their findings, a total of 13 staff members were found responsible for the tunnel flooding that led to a 20-hour train disruption.

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They include:

  • Work Team
    • 1 Senior Executive
    • 2 Managers
    • 5 Technical Staff
  • 1 Vice President
  • 1 Senior Manager
  • 3 Management Executives

Amongst them, the eight from the work team – whose duties were to ensure that pump maintenance was duly carried out – were released from the company.

Whereas the three Management Executives – including a Vice President whom The Straits Times reported as Mr Ng Tek Poo – were disciplined according to SMRT’s disciplinary framework for “failing to exercise due care and diligence expected in relation to the maintenance of the pumps.”

Mr Ng was earlier suggested to have been “redeployed”, 5 days after the flooding.

The remaining two, former-Vice President Tay Tien Seng and Senior Manager Ivan Kok, have since resigned from the company following the incident.

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But the duo aren’t off the hook yet, given that SMRT “reserves the right” to take legal action on, if they wish.

Singaporeans still unhappy with Desmond Kuek

Now it would seem that with SMRT outing those responsible and dealing with them, the public’s thirst for blood should be satiated for now, right? Surely they can’t be still upset over this?

Actually, they are.

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No points for guessing who’s head they’re calling for.

Enter Desmond Kuek

Despite sacking the eight staff, netizens are still clamouring for Mr Kuek to resign as CEO.

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With the rationale being that upper management is in charge of ensuring the the organization reaches their goals and targets, through proper leadership and management.

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Having said that however, it’s perhaps not as simple in practice.

Unfair to solely pin the blame on him

While it is true that the CEO is in charge of the overall, the employees must also be held responsible for their delegated duties and the blame cannot be put solely on the boss.

In this case, the five technical staff had falsified maintenance records for close to a year, while their manager and senior executives – whose sole job was to prevent just that – failed to remedy the issue despite being completely aware and in on the whole thing all along.

Therein lies an integrity issue in itself which is inexcusable — it would be unfair to blame Mr Kuek for being “incompetent”.

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After all, you wouldn’t call for the resignation of Uber’s CEO if one of his employees did something wrong, would you?

Furthermore, this is the same guy that already took a pay cut by nearly 20% in 2016 – even though it’s still a decent salary.

Your thoughts on the incident

So what is your opinion on this?

Did SMRT do the right thing in firing the eight and disciplining the three or could they have done more a la Mr Kuek’s resignation?

At the very least, it’s a good start and serves as a warning to those who choose complacency over the safety of the public.

Perhaps we should look into Thales for their signalling project next?

Featured image from YouTube

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