Experience in transport industry should count in choice of SMRT chief

I am disappointed that yet another chief executive of the SMRT will be someone without the relevant experience (SMRT confirms ex-general Neo Kian Hong as new CEO; April 18.)

When I visited Russia a year ago, I was impressed by its metro.

The lavish Moscow metro system was built way back in 1935 while Josef Stalin was in power.

Today it is over 300km long and consists of 12 lines serving 212 stations and transports about 10 million passengers daily.

Trains run more speedily than those we have here, there is free Wi-Fi, carriages are longer and the frequency of trains faster (minimal interval between trains is 90 seconds).

The former head of the Moscow Metro, Mr Dmitry Pegov, graduated as an electrical engineer, but did an MBA, and earned a law degree too.

He started his career as an assistant engineer in a locomotive depot, then worked as a train driver and even became a driving instructor of locomotive crews, and was eventually promoted to head of the St Petersburg-Moscow October Railway railcar depot and several other senior positions before being appointed as head of the metro in 2014.

With due respect, how did the relevant decision-makers end up appointing another SMRT chief with zero experience in the transport industry, zero experience working in the private sector and zero experience at the board level of any company, let alone a $1 billion company?

Michael Loh Toon Seng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2018, with the headline 'Experience in transport industry should count in choice of SMRT chief'. Print Edition | Subscribe