Wednesday, December 26, 2012

SMRT- Public Transport, Army, or Retail company?

[New post- SMRT-Army hybrid Logo]

Maybe as a non-scholar, I won't be able to appreciate the talents and skills involved, would someone tell me what has running a military to do with running with a public transport company?

In the military, you want to get stuff from Point A to Point B, regardless of the cost.


In public transport, you want to get people from Point A to Point B at the most efficient way.

SMRT CEO'S new team: 4 were high-ranking SAF officers"Yes, some were from the military... but they have been selected because they have the right attributes and experience for the tasks at hand," - Mr Desmond Kuek

Deputy director of workers liaison and industrial relations Michael Chua, 48. Lieutenant- Colonel Chua has 27 years' experience in the SAF dealing with special operations and industry relations.
Director of buses Tan Kian Heong, 45. Colonel Tan spent 15 years with the SAF, with his last appointment as head of its land operations faculty.
Director of human resources Gerard Koh, 42. Col Koh spent 16 years with the SAF, with his last post as head of national service affairs.
Director of train operations Alvin Kek, 45. A 14-year SAF veteran, Col Kek's previous position was formation commander, chief engineering officer.
-StraitsTimes 24th December 2012.

So why is our new CEO of SMRT, Desmond Kuek, bringing ex-army officials from SAF?
What is it that they have learned and experienced in the army that is so relevant and useful, that it would enhance SMRT, a public transport company, to be more efficient, and less prone to breakdowns?

Instead of hiring more engineers and technicians to improve the stability of the train system, or urban planners to improve the bus route works, or even to increase bus drivers' fares, we have Desmond Kuek spending more money on management. Out of the 8 new key managers, only 1 is to replace someone who left. The other 7 are all new appointees to beef up management.


SMRT announced yesterday (18 Dec) that it is forming a joint venture with NTUC to manage the commercial retail space in the new Singapore Sports Hub. SMRT will own 70% of this new venture called SMRT Alpha.
Two months ago (Oct) when LG (NS) Demond Kuek took over from Saw Phaik Hwa as the new CEO of SMRT, he said, “What is certain is that we are first and foremost a public transport operator. This is the core business that we are responsible for and must excel in.”

When you insist that the company is going to be, first and foremost a public transport operator, and you still branch out into irrelevant profit-making sectors, would that not dilute your goal?
And while your core specialisation of "public transport" is still unstable, with numerous breakdowns frequently, with your bus drivers going on strike, and photos and reports of unfair wages, unfavourable living conditions for your drivers out in the newspapers, how can you justify branching into retail, NOW?

(Why our beloved National Trade Union Congress [NTUC is forming this venture with SMRT] is moving deeper into retail deserves another blogpost on its own)

You don't even need PSLE to know that the very name, "Public Transport", means it is for the PUBLIC.
Trying to get a private, profit-maximising company to run a public transportation company.... I think we are not paying our government politicians enough.

The previous CEO was too lucky to escape unscathed.

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