Tackling train breakdowns

Use soldiers only if rail operator is nationalised

While I see the benefits of tapping the Singapore Armed Forces to handle nationwide train breakdowns ("Soldiers may help manage crowds in rail disruptions"; last Friday), I fear that this is simply bailing out shareholders of SMRT and covering for the company's lack of focus on its rail business, as it is not as profitable as its other businesses.

This discussion of using national assets to cover for the shortcomings of a private company should take place only if that private company is in the process of being nationalised.

Otherwise, where does this stop? Do we cross-train our fighter pilots to handle commercial jets in the event of a pilot strike at Singapore Airlines? Will our navy be required to help Neptune Orient Lines if it suffers catastrophic manpower shortages?

If SMRT is nationalised, with more direct control by the Land Transport Authority, then there will also be greater accountability at the national level.

At the moment, the board and management of SMRT are really accountable only to their shareholders. Why should taxpayers bail them out?

Tong Hsien-Hui

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2015, with the headline 'Use soldiers only if rail operator is nationalised'. Print Edition | Subscribe