Youth's appreciation for station staff not derailed by train woes

From left: SMRT staff members Hong Yoke Kee, Nurulhuda Sarbini and Muhammad Zamil receiving gifts of appreciation from volunteers Lee Ci En, Li Wee Shyan and Wong Wei Sheng.
From left: SMRT staff members Hong Yoke Kee, Nurulhuda Sarbini and Muhammad Zamil receiving gifts of appreciation from volunteers Lee Ci En, Li Wee Shyan and Wong Wei Sheng.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

In a year of train delays and breakdowns, people should still remember the SMRT ground staff who are just trying to do their jobs.

That is the message that Mr Lee Ci En, a 21-year-old Singapore Management University (SMU) undergraduate, wants to convey through The Chuu Chuu Project.

Yesterday, he distributed "care packages" to station staff at Dhoby Ghaut and City Hall MRT stations to thank them for working during this festive period. The packages contain messages of encouragement, Tiger Balm and wet wipes.

The Chuu Chuu Project is supported by the Young ChangeMakers Grant, which supports youth-initiated projects that help the community. It is administered by the National Youth Council (NYC).

Together with nine other youth volunteers, Mr Lee aimed to reach out to around 20 to 30 staff members per station. He said: "It all started when I was coming back from an event in Somerset - on the same night that the North-South and East-West lines broke down in 2011. Bus stops were really crowded and the buses could not pick up more passengers. I watched video footage of what happened on the ground and saw how much flak the ground staff received as a result."

He added that when chaos and confusion reign during breakdowns, people get impatient and can give ground staff a rough time.

This is the second time Mr Lee is trying to show appreciation for SMRT station staff. In October last year, he rallied 319 members of the public and undergraduates to write appreciation notes to SMRT staff .

SMRT senior assistant station manager Nurulhuda Sarbini, 32, said she was touched by the gesture.

"It has been very heartwarming and we really appreciate the kind gesture," said Ms Nurulhuda, who attends to passenger needs and does platform and concourse patrols at City Hall MRT station.

She said that to overcome challenges on the job, she puts on a smile. "I take pride in knowing that a simple gesture such as smiling or greeting commuters can go a long way in making a difference to their daily commute. Even if it means going out of our way to help them, we will do it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 31, 2017, with the headline 'Youth's appreciation for station staff not derailed by train woes'. Print Edition | Subscribe