Key events during Kuek's tenure

•October 2012: Mr Desmond Kuek becomes SMRT chief executive, taking over from interim CEO Tan Ek Kia, who assumed the role after Ms Saw Phaik Hwa resigned in January 2012. Mr Kuek said SMRT must excel in its core business as a public transport operator.

•November 2012: A group of SMRT bus drivers from China go on strike for two days, protesting against salary, work and living conditions.

•December 2012: Mr Kuek hires eight key managers, of whom four were once high-ranking officers in the Singapore Armed Forces.

•February 2013: Mr Kuek gives SMRT a B-rating for reliability and availability compared to other rail operators, adding that his goal was to hit an A or A* rating.

•May 2013: Mr Lee Ling Wee, formerly from the Republic of Singapore Air Force, joins SMRT, to lead a new maintenance and engineering division for trains. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SMRT also announce plans to accelerate the upgrading of the ageing North-South and East-West lines.

•January 2014: SMRT adopts an international set of standards for the management of its assets, such as train and rail systems.

•July 2014: SMRT rolls out a new career scheme that will provide about 4,000 staff with better career paths, a broader job scope and higher pay.

•March 2015: Mr Kuek announces plans for a central team of experts who will be in touch with the maintenance staff on the ground.

•July 2015: Intermittent tripping of the rail power system at multiple locations results in a system-wide disruption on the North-South and East-West lines on July 7.

•November 2015: SMRT launches an integrated maintenance operations centre to coordinate its recovery efforts in the event of disruptions.

•March 2016: Two SMRT technicians are killed by a train while on the way to fix a fault near Pasir Ris station.

•July 2016: The Government and SMRT reach a deal for the LTA to take over all rail operating assets from SMRT for $1.06 billion.

•October 2016: SMRT is delisted from the Singapore Stock Exchange, with the company being bought out by Temasek.

•October 2017: Train tunnels near Bishan MRT station are flooded, due to a lack of maintenance of flood prevention measures. Mr Kuek admits that many of SMRT's major disruptions in the past have been attributed in some part, or all, to human error or failure.

•November 2017: Two trains collide on the tracks near Joo Koon MRT station, as a result of a software glitch in the East-West Line's new signalling system.

•January 2018: Mr Kuek dismisses talk that he will be stepping down.

•February 2018: SMRT announces it is raising starting salaries, and will offer five-year re-employment contracts to attract and retain staff.

•March 2018: Mr Kuek sets bold targets for SMRT's network - to be at least three times as reliable by 2020.

•April 2018: On April 18, SMRT confirms that Mr Neo Kian Hong will succeed Mr Kuek as chief executive from Aug 1.

Adrian Lim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2018, with the headline 'Key events during Kuek's tenure'. Print Edition | Subscribe