SMRT chief Desmond Kuek paid $2.25m last year

The remuneration for SMRT chief Desmond Kuek (above) is benchmarked against peer companies', says SMRT director Tan Ek Kia.
The remuneration for SMRT chief Desmond Kuek (above) is benchmarked against peer companies', says SMRT director Tan Ek Kia.

Pay package doubled from time he took on the job

SMRT CORP chief executive Desmond Kuek, 52, earned more than $2.25 million last year, according to the company's latest annual report.

The amount is double what he made when he first joined the rail operator in October 2012. For the six months to SMRT's financial year-end in March 2013, Mr Kuek made $611,000, which is equivalent to $1.22 million if annualised.

For the year ended March 2014, he made between $1.75 million and $2 million.

In its latest annual report, the Temasek Holdings-owned transport group said Mr Kuek's remuneration was between $2.25 million and $2.5 million for the last financial year.

This means Mr Kuek's compensation had doubled in less than three years, making him SMRT's highest-paid CEO.

His predecessor, Ms Saw Phaik Hwa, made about $1.85 million before she left in 2012.

Mr Kuek's remuneration package is also larger than that of Mr Kua Hong Pak, his counterpart at

rival transport group ComfortDelGro Corp - a significantly larger company.

Last year, Mr Kua, 71, drew between $1.75 million and $2 million - a remuneration band that has not changed in recent years.

In its last financial year, ComfortDelGro posted a turnover of $4.05 billion and a profit of $283.5 million, while SMRT recorded a turnover of $1.24 billion and net earnings of $91 million.

SMRT director Tan Ek Kia told The Straits Times that Mr Kuek's remuneration "is benchmarked to peer companies... and is competitive and at a responsible level".

He added that the new CEO's tasks were more daunting than before. SMRT has been struggling to renew ageing operating assets to improve service reliability and at the same time looking for new ways to bolster earnings eroded by higher operating expenditure.

In a recent interview with The Straits Times, Mr Kuek said: "We have made tremendous progress on many fronts... but there is much more to be done to improve rail reliability."

christan@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2015, with the headline 'SMRT chief paid $2.25m last year'. Print Edition | Subscribe