SMRT hires ST Kinetics V-P Richard Kwok to head audit team

Dr Richard Kwok, ST Kinetics' executive vice-president and chief technology officer, will start work with SMRT in December.
Dr Richard Kwok, ST Kinetics' executive vice-president and chief technology officer, will start work with SMRT in December.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Rail operator SMRT has hired senior engineer Richard Kwok to head its audit team, as it looks to strengthen its system of checks following maintenance lapses that resulted in an MRT tunnel flooding in October.

Dr Kwok, ST Kinetics' executive vice-president and chief technology officer, will start work with SMRT in December.

The move was announced by Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan in Parliament on Tuesday (Nov 7), when he delivered a ministerial statement on the flooding incident which brought train services on a section of the North-South Line down for about 20 hours on Oct 7.

Mr Khaw said SMRT chairman Seah Moon Ming has requested that ST Kinetics release Dr Kwok to join the audit team.

Dr Kwok's audit team will report directly to the SMRT board's audit and risk committee, added Mr Khaw.

Dr Kwok will also jointly head a new Joint Readiness Inspection team with the Land Transport Authority (LTA), to supplement SMRT's own internal audit system.

This team will report to the LTA and SMRT Joint Board Technical Committee.

"The tighter audit system will help to identify any deficiencies, so that they can be addressed early before faults occur," said Mr Khaw.

But he also told the House that "no regulatory oversight can fully guard against intentional efforts to hide mistakes and negligence".

Following its investigations, SMRT found that a group of six staff responsible for maintaining water discharge pumps in Bishan appeared to have falsified maintenance records between December last year and June this year.

The staff have been suspended and disciplinary action will be taken against them, SMRT said on Monday. They were from the building and facilities department, which makes up about one-tenth of the total staff in SMRT Trains.

Mr Khaw said SMRT has not found any evidence of falsification or dereliction of duty in the core groups who maintain the trains, signalling and communications equipment, and track systems.

The minister added that rail operators' efforts to create the "right organisational culture of professionalism, excellence and discipline" are important and complement the audit systems in place.