Evidence-based reassurance needed on asbestos matter

I find it unacceptable the dismissive way the SMRT spokesman brushed off the earlier asbestos statement that it had put out to the public. SMRT had said that it was "a human error" by one of their staff members (Asbestos not used in MRT network; July 13).

I would like to know whether the spokesman has technical expertise on the matter, or at least whether she sought the required knowledge to provide a convincing reply based on scientific or technical evidence.

It is not just about reassuring the public with a statement regarding who said what about asbestos exposure. Just as one would not accept a cancer diagnosis without going through various medical screening tests, the public should not be expected to simply take the SMRT spokesman's word for it that the asbestos remark was an error.

There are many technical tests available to check if the composite brake blocks contain the harmful asbestos material.

Such tests should be conducted and a proper evaluation report produced to the satisfaction of all the authorities, including the National Environment Agency, the Health Sciences Authority and the Ministry of Manpower.

The public should hold these organisations to a higher standard of accountability. I hope the relevant authorities will step in and call for more evidence-based reassurance to be given to the public.

Bernard Chua

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2018, with the headline 'Evidence-based reassurance needed on asbestos matter'. Print Edition | Subscribe