Singapore's rail reliability will improve, given new SMRT chairman's experience: Khaw Boon Wan

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and SMRT's new Chairman Seah Moon Ming at Bishan Depot on Aug 28, 2017.
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and SMRT's new Chairman Seah Moon Ming at Bishan Depot on Aug 28, 2017. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/KHAW BOON WAN
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and SMRT's new Chairman Seah Moon Ming at Bishan Depot on Aug 28, 2017.
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and SMRT's new Chairman Seah Moon Ming at Bishan Depot on Aug 28, 2017. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/KHAW BOON WAN

SINGAPORE - Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that he believes Singapore's rail reliability will improve, given the experience of rail operator SMRT's new chairman Seah Moon Ming.

Calling Mr Seah a "practical engineer who leads both from the trenches as well as from the board room", Mr Khaw wrote in a Facebook post on Monday (Aug 28):

"I have no doubt his chairing #SMRT will speed up our efforts to raise rail reliability, to meet the new target of 1 million train-km before any delay exceeding 5 minutes."

Mr Seah took over as chairman of SMRT Corp and SMRT Trains on July 17, from Mr Koh Yong Guan after the latter completed his term of office. Mr Koh had been chairman since July 2009.

Mr Khaw said that he first met Mr Seah when the latter was chairman of ST Electronics during the Sars crisis in 2003. Mr Khaw was then an office holder in the health ministry where he headed the Sars combat team.

Mr Khaw wrote: "We had to work fast together, to come out with new diagnostic devices, to pinpoint fever cases and identify contacts and track them down for possible isolation.

"It was a crisis, and quick response, based on sound science and engineering, was critical in the fight against SARS. We had a very fruitful partnership."

After the Sars crisis, Mr Khaw had asked him for help on various occasions, including "to stabilise Ren Ci after the Ming Yi scandal, and in KTP Hospital to help put technology to good use in a hospital setting".

He penned the post after a recent visit to Bishan Depot in the early hours of the morning with Mr Seah.

Added Mr Khaw: "Seah MM is a practical engineer who leads both from the trenches as well as from the board room. I joined him in the trenches recently, in the wee hours of the morning, to give support to our troops on the ground."

In the post, the minister also paid tribute to the MRT train maintenance crew who put in a shift every night.

"Maintenance work is not only physically punishing, but also a race against time. Every minute matters as we have only four hours every night after the last train pulls in.

"It is a thankless but critical job, so that #Singaporeans can wake up to smooth journeys to work and school. While the occasional brickbats may dampen their spirits, they are never daunted."