SMRT has good team, but some attrition useful: Khaw

SMRT had a change of leadership last August when Mr Neo Kian Hong replaced Mr Desmond Kuek as chief executive.
SMRT had a change of leadership last August when Mr Neo Kian Hong replaced Mr Desmond Kuek as chief executive.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SMRT has a very good team of people in charge, and sometimes, some attrition is useful, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said.

He was responding to Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC), who asked about recent reports in The Straits Times on various resignations at the rail operator, and what impact this has on SMRT's plans for rail reliability for the long haul.

Mr Singh said his concern was whether there is a deeper issue within SMRT that the public ought to be concerned about.

Replied Mr Khaw: "With the change of leadership of SMRT... and the team that I worked with both above ground and underground, I know them well and it's a very good team of people. And, sometimes some attrition is useful."

SMRT had a change of leadership last August when Mr Neo Kian Hong replaced Mr Desmond Kuek as chief executive. ST also reported in April this year that about 30 executives in its human resources department had quit, as had two senior engineers.

Citing the ST reports, Mr Singh asked: "Is there a significant number that Singaporeans are to be concerned that we start slipping in terms of the targets the minister has set?... Is there any concern the ministry has about morale within SMRT and whether the system can continue to move forward reliably?"

Mr Khaw pointed to an ST report last month that SMRT Trains' chief executive was expected to resign, saying he immediately texted the SMRT chairman - Mr Seah Moon Ming - about it. "He was in the air then and as soon as he landed at the airport, he replied to me that it is fake news," said the minister. "ST gave an apology in tiny font size," Mr Khaw added.

The Straits Times had apologised for the error on Page 2 of the print edition, where corrections are usually placed, and in its regular font size.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2019, with the headline 'SMRT has good team, but some attrition useful: Khaw'. Print Edition | Subscribe