The Straits Times
Published on Dec 11, 2012

Military professionals in SMRT not a good idea


SMRT chief executive officer Desmond Kuek's plan ("SMRT chief to tap military men for key posts"; last Thursday) may not be the most prudent move.

Being conditioned to a regimented environment for most of their careers, such military professionals are used to being obeyed and issuing orders without expecting to be questioned.

This is how the military is run, and the ability to adapt to the private sector and being open to challenges to their authority may be severely restricted by their training.

From my own experience in the army, inflexibility and conformity are the order of how things are done in the military.

So if Mr Kuek, a former lieutenant-general, wants to ensure command and control of an organisation, filling senior positions with military-trained personnel may be right.

But it may not be a wise idea to put such men in charge to address the challenges of a new environment and complex foreign worker relations as well as handle sensitive diplomatic issues with their governments.

Lim Boon Hee (Dr)