SMRT’s new CEO, Neo Kian Hong, has gone and done a u-turn on his predecessor Desmond Kuek.
Speaking to reporters at a rail event today, Neo said that “deep-seated cultural issues” do not exist within SMRT.
Former SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek had blamed “deep-seated cultural issues” for lapses that led to major disruptions, flooding and even track deaths.
However, Neo, who was appointed CEO on 1 Aug this year, said that based on his experience staff “want to do well”:
“I do not agree with the term (deep-seated cultural issues), because that’s not my experience when I engage with the ground.”
As to how he plans to steer SMRT towards better quality standards and reliability, Neo said:
“We plan to strengthen the organisation to meet the intended outcomes and stay focused on our core business which is trains. We also need to grow our rail engineering capabilities and capacity to be ready for the future.”
Like Kuek, Neo was a former Chief of Defence Force – the highest post in the Singapore Armed Forces.
Despite slipping standards, both CEOs persisted in roping in more military personnel to join SMRT, leading to the running joke that the SMRT CEO position is the highest rank in the SAF.