All have stations to man on the Singapore boat

Transport minister Lui Tuck Yew at Ang Mo Kio MRT station.
Transport minister Lui Tuck Yew at Ang Mo Kio MRT station. PHOTO: ST FILE

Though the major disruptions on the MRT lines were mentioned in Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew's letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, we can only guess at what the real factors behind his resignation might be ("Lui Tuck Yew decides to leave politics"; yesterday).

But let's suppose that the MRT breakdowns were the factors; we ought to contemplate how our responses to the breakdowns might have shaped Mr Lui's decision to step down.

As citizens, we are all in this one Singapore boat. It's a boat well envied by international watchers, but it's a boat that's already 50 years old, and we have a lot of infrastructure, like the MRT, that has been faithfully serving us for several decades now.

As this Singapore boat weathers all kinds of storms, we must realistically expect wear and tear, damage and even downtime to some of the key machinery running this boat, such as the MRT lines.

The MRT is just a microcosm of the crucial machinery running this Singapore boat.

What's key is that we have men and women of character, competence and commitment helming these stations, who know how to deal with the challenges swiftly and effectively when we are hit by storms and how to emerge stronger.

While we must hold these men and women accountable for lapses, breaches of integrity and negligence of duty, we must, in the same tune, encourage and support those who are doing their very best in the face of setbacks, with graciousness and gratitude.

To continue weathering the storms in the next 50 years, we must see ourselves as fellow crew members manning our stations in this Singapore boat.

Storms will come and, often, they are beyond our control. We would do well to rise above our frustrations in the face of inconveniences, recognise the efforts of our fellow countrymen and cheer them on, as they do their utmost to serve us all as we weather these storms together.

Steve Chiu Shih Tung

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2015, with the headline 'All have stations to man on the Singapore boat'. Print Edition | Subscribe