The Straits Times
Published on Dec 05, 2012

A case for greater govt intervention


IN EACH of the past three years, SMRT has faced serious problems such as security breaches ("Graffiti vandal breaches security at MRT depot", June 4, 2010; and "Another MRT train vandalised in depot", Aug 18, 2011), massive breakdowns ("MRT breakdown chaos", Dec 16, 2011; and "PM orders inquiry as trains break down again", Dec 18, 2011), and a wildcat strike by disgruntled China-recruited bus drivers ("102 SMRT bus drivers protest against pay"; Nov 27).

These shortcomings seem to suggest there are deep-seated issues within SMRT that must be addressed.

These issues appear to stem from a profit-focused leadership culture, which arguably defines how the organisation sees its work. While changes have been reportedly made in the company, missing links seem to persist in its maintenance regime and human resource practices.

SMRT is an essential public service provider in a country with a high population density, and cannot afford to be involved in major incidents so regularly.

I urge the authorities to conduct a thorough audit of SMRT, as well as providers of all other essential public services.

There may also be merit in recent suggestions for the authorities to be more involved in the management of, or nationalising, such organisations.

Christopher Chong