Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan saved a part of his speech in parliament today to throw SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek under the bus (not literally lah).
Making reference to Kuek’s speech where he blamed “deep-seated cultural issues” for SMRT’s persistent problems, Mr Khaw said he held Kuek responsible.
“It is the responsibility of management to set the right culture, professionalism, and excellence. It begins from the top and if there is poor work culture, the CEO is responsible – you set the corporate culture.”
And with that, Mr Khaw revealed he was informed by SMRT CEO Seah Moon Ming that SMRT will be looking to review the pay package given to SMRT senior management, including Kuek.
“The board will review the remuneration of its senior management from CEO through the relevant chain of command. This is as it should be.”
This comes as Mr Khaw was pressed in parliament regarding SMRT’s inability to get on track and fix problems with the train system it operates.
The impetus for deeper questioning by MPs was Singapore’s first-ever flooding of an MRT tunnel last month.
A faulty pump system was blamed, and further investigations showed that SMRT maintenance staff had falsified records and didn’t do necessary checks on the pumps for close to a year.
Mr Khaw said that the cause of the flooding was clear, and that despite calls for a Committee of Inquiry to be convened to look into the matter, no COI will be set up.
“It was not due to any inadequacy in the design of flood prevention measures. Neither was it due to an extraordinary storm. It was due to poor maintenance and neglect of duties by the specific SMRT maintenance team responsible for the Bishan storm water sump pump system.”
Mr Khaw said that all 3 pumps in the Bishan stormwater sump pit were found to be in working order, as they could be activated manually after flooding was detected.
Testing and inspection provider Singapore Test Services had also confirmed independently that each of the five float switches that control the pump system were “functional in themselves”.
The LTA is investigating why these float switches had failed to function normally on the day of the flooding, he said.
Apart from SMRT replacing all the float switches at Bishan, the authority has replaced the pumps with heavier-duty ones that can handle water carrying more sediments and installed extra parallel float switches.
Mr Khaw reiterated that there were no shortcomings or lapses in oversight by the LTA or the Transport Ministry.