LTA chief quits to join private sector

Mr Chew, who has been at the helm at LTA for less than two years, said he was leaving for "personal career development" in the private sector. The surprise resignation makes his stint among the shortest on record.
Mr Chew, who has been at the helm at LTA for less than two years, said he was leaving for "personal career development" in the private sector. The surprise resignation makes his stint among the shortest on record.ST FILE PHOTO

Land Transport Authority (LTA) chief executive Chew Men Leong has resigned, less than two years after he assumed the helm at what is arguably Singapore's most scrutinised statutory board.

In a shock announcement to LTA's staff of about 6,000 people yesterday, Mr Chew said he was leaving for "personal career development" in the private sector.

While he did not say where he is heading to, there is speculation that he will join the vast Singapore Technologies fold.

Mr Chew, 48, was head of national water agency PUB before moving to the LTA in October 2014. Before that, he was the Republic of Singapore Navy chief, holding the rank of rear-admiral. He took over at the LTA from Mr Chew Hock Yong, who was at the helm for four years.

The surprise resignation makes Mr Chew Men Leong's stint as LTA chief among the shortest on record since the statutory board was formed in 1995. Former chief Ho Meng Kit left in 2005 shortly after the 2004 Nicoll Highway collapse - barely two years into the job.

During his tenure, Mr Chew oversaw the roll-out of the bus contracting framework, where the Government owns all operating assets such as buses and tenders out bus routes in parcels for a fee.

The LTA also took a major shift towards encouraging alternative modes of commuting, such as cycling, under his leadership. It recently called a tender for a large-scale bicycle sharing scheme.

Mr Chew also grappled with major MRT breakdowns, including the worst one in MRT history on July 7 last year and another in April that crippled three MRT lines and an LRT line simultaneously.

A Transport Ministry spokesman said Mr Chew was joining the private sector and an announcement on his successor will be made later.

Sources said Mr Chew, whose last day will be Nov 11, faced mounting pressure arising partly from the persistent rail incidents. He was not reachable for comment yesterday.

But LTA chairman Alan Chan dismissed the talk. He said: "He has found new opportunity, and he decided to take it. He has done an excellent job, he pulled people together - I have seen him at work. I wish him well."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2016, with the headline 'LTA chief quits to join private sector'. Print Edition | Subscribe