“As CEO of SMRT, I am naturally responsible (for the breakdowns). Being responsible does not mean walking away from these faults; it means doing all I can to get the problem fixed.” – Saw Phaik Hwa
By now, you must be in outer space or working whole day in the lab continuously for few days to not have noticed the news about the crumpling of the MRT networks in Singapore. After more than 20 years in operation and the huge influx of foreigners in the last few years, the Government of Singapore reacts to the displeasure of the public by forcing the MRT operators to increase the frequencies of the MRT, yes alleviate the jam packed somewhat but still very packed most of the time. While this is a natural remedy, but the root cause of the problem do not go away overnight – the number of huge population is still there, they don’t disappear overnight! The whole transport system also needs an overhaul (read more here).
Strangely, the CEO has been quoted that she would not resign. I think any respectable CEO after seeing such a big mess should rightfully stay on, solve the problem during this difficult time and then gracefully resign after the incident is under control. This is not the first incident that she has messed up, a recent breach of security happened this year, public displeasure over the jam-packed trains, frequent downtime of an essential service…. the list goes on. We can not blame her alone, why was she hired as a CEO to run an operational (and a very essential one) company when her background is in finance and marketing? I think the Board of Inquiry commissioned by the PM should also look into putting in place a proper check and balance to ensure that the appointment of the CEO is well scrutinised. I can not fathom a company like SIA is not run by an competent CEO from that industry, how many lives would have been lost? As the Chinese saying goes: 冰冻三尺非一日之寒 (the thick ice do not just form overnight), major disaster is often a cumulative of events leading to its unfortunate outcome.
Updated 23 Dec 2012: In a special TV report shown on Ch8 10pm today, it was shown that Minister Lui Tuck Yew took his own initiative in inspecting the MRT network, it was a surprise check without other officials accompanying him. In contrast, the CEO of LTA and SMRT were nowhere to be seen in action (to be fair to Ms Saw, New Paper has reported that she did show up in other occasions). The contrast is startling and that may explain why the regulation and MRT are slowly falling apart with these armchair CEOs in charge. Kudos to Minsiter Lui, you show that you really care!
“As the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining. And in the case of the recent – and continuing – breakdowns of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system in Singapore, these silver linings would be the ground and station staff of the train operators.”- Publichouse.sg
Using the keywords in Google “saw phaik hwa should resign”, you will not be surprised to see the calls for Saw Phaik Hwa to resign is overwhelming. Here are some articles on the related topics:
- Multiple incidents raise question: Why no review of SMRT management competence?
- LTA needs measures with bite
- SMRT CEO under pressure to resign
- Those who appointed CEO are responsible
- SMRT CEO staying to ‘put everything right’
- Public anger mounts over train disruptions
- Why was nothing done after past incidents
- Clamour grows for SMRT CEO to step down
- MRT breakdown – yes, there is a silver lining
- Rail woes: examine culpability of all parties (The Sunday Times 15Jan2012)
Updated 6 Jan 2011: SMRT CEO resigns immediately
As I have mentioned in my previous post, it is only right that she resigns from the post of CEO to take responsibility for the furor – ideally when the ship is stablised, nevertheless it is the right thing to do. But we should call a spade a spade, the statement by SMRT
“According to SMRT board chairman Koh Yong Guan, Ms Saw had spoken to him of “her desire to move on during 2012” on Dec 7 – a week before the first five-hour breakdown hit parts of the North-South Line. SMRT’s filing with the Singapore Exchange said the 57-year-old was leaving “to pursue personal interests”.
amounts to nothing but baloney, on Dec 18 – a day after the second disruption hit the North-South Line – Ms Saw said she was “staying put” to “put everything right”. I will admire SMRT more if they have just said that the CEO has quitted to take the responsibility for the massive disruptions.