Neo Kian Hong; SMRT

SMRT CEO Neo Kian Hong who was newly-appointed in August this year has gone to the state media to backstab his predecessor Desmond Kuek, blaming him for persistent train breakdowns.

The former army general told state media reporters that he did not find any “cultural issues” that led to the poor performance of SMRT:

“The ‘deep-seated cultural issues’ of human error or failure characterised by Desmond Kuek do not exist within the SMRT. Based on my experience, our people 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.”

SMRT CEO Neo Kian Hong then claimed that Desmond Kuek’s poor leadership led to the persistent train breakdowns:

“To ensure staff perform, it takes good leadership as well as engagement with the ground…In some militaries, they use this term – there are no poor soldiers, there are only poor leaders. This is a team sport. The whole organisation is required.”

A year ago in October, former SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek faulted his employees, citing “cultural issues”, for a train tunnel flooding resulted from falsification of maintenance work:

“Much progress has been made with the inculcation of a positive work culture in the workforce, but there remain some deep-seated cultural issues within the company that has needed more time than anticipated to root out. Indeed, many of our major disruptions in the past have been attributed in some part, or all, to human error or failure. We regret that this is so.”

The former chief of defence was given the SMRT CEO profile in 2012, but he was subsequently fired less than 6 years in the job. In Desmond Kuek’s replacement, the PAP dictatorship appointed another chief of defence, Neo Kian Hong.

SMRT Neo Kian Hong was giving a townhall speech to his employees yesterday (Nov 16), and the former army general came out with his own formula, known as the MKBF, claiming that rail reliability is now 3 times more reliable:

“SMRT’s Mean Kilometre Between Failure (MKBF) figure, which is an indication of rail reliability, was 181,000 for the entire MRT network last year. It is currently 661,000 and we are on track to achieve the 1 million benchmark set by 2020.”

The MKBF formula is a lopsided formula devised by the Singapore government to give a fake impression that rail reliability has improved. There is no transparency on how the variables were calculated, nor were there any appendix showing the dates and extent of train breakdowns. The government’s MKBF measurement cannot be fact-checked against other sources like news reports.

There has been numerous incidents where a train breakdown is not registered by SMRT or the government, and simply swept aside as a “project-related” or “delay” issue. Train delays are also usually dishonestly under-reported, and in some cases, not even reported by the authorities at all.