WP Chief Pritam Singh asks about impact of SMRT resignations on staff morale & rail reliability
Khaw responded with confidence in SMRT's team, adding that 'sometimes some attrition is useful'.
On Monday in Parliament, Workers’ Party (WP) secretary-general Pritam Singh raised questions over the recent wave of resignations at SMRT, one of Singapore’s key transport operators.
Concerns over resignations in SMRT
Pritam explained that there had been various reports about resignation from The Straits Times (ST) in recent months — April, May, and June.
In particular, he highlighted that some of these resignations came from its rail maintenance and engineering departments, all of which were previously raised as areas of improvement.
With that, he asked if the series of resignation will affect SMRT in achieving the goals that the Ministry of Transport set for rail reliability.
Adding on to that, he also shared concerns about how the number of corporate-related resignations in SMRT can affect staff morale as well.
Khaw Boon Wan: SMRT has “a very good team of people”
In response, the Minister of Transport Khaw Boon Wan said on Monday (Jul. 8) that he texted the SMRT chairman, Seah Moon Ming immediately when he read ST’s recent report on “a major upcoming resignation”.
This was its story speculating on imminent departures of SMRT Trains chief executive officer Lee Ling Wee and Executive vice-president for Experience Dawn Low.
Khaw then said that Seah clarified with him that it was “fake news”, also saying that “ST gave an apology in tiny font size”.
In parliament, Khaw further said he knows the current SMRT team well, adding his view that they are a “very good team of people”.
Also, he said, “sometimes some attrition is useful”.
ST later apologised in a correction note that included a statement from Lee saying that he is not leaving and is “fully committed” to SMRT.
It also said that the apology was printed “in regular font size” on the second page of the print newspaper.
You can watch their exchange here:
Significant and sustained improvements
Separately, Khaw said at the same sitting that “intense efforts to improve rail reliability are producing results”.
In fact, the rail reliability has improved seven-fold as compared to 2015, the year Singaporeans experienced a massive MRT break down along North-South and East-West lines (NSEWL).
Khaw further supported that surveys by Public Transport Council (PTC) showed that public perception of MRT services has improved too.
Measured by Mean Kilometres Between Failure (MKBF), Singapore’s rail reliability performance is, according to Khaw, on par with the Taipei Metro and Hongkong MTR now.
Khaw also thanked the thousands of workers who made “countless personal sacrifices”, working day and night to improve the MRT system.
He also said that the renewal of NSEWL will be completed by around 2023, and although the progress made has been laudable so far, the minister also said “we must never become complacent”.
Here’s Khaw’s full speech:
Top photo collage via CNA parliament video screengrabs