Khaw’s ‘insensitive’ post in the aftermath of SMRT deaths draws flak

Transport minister Khaw Boon Wan has been drawing flak for conflating the tragedy of the loss of two young SMRT staff who died in a track accident and a milestone for the Downtown Line (DTL) in a Facebook post.

About 200 people have criticised the post since it was published on Tuesday night. Some of them claimed that their negative comments were deleted by the minister’s page administrator.

Nasrulhudin Najumudin, 26, and Muhammad Asyraf Ahmad Buhari, 24, were killed near Pasir Ris MRT station earlier that day when they went down on the tracks to conduct maintenance checks.

Khaw began his post by saying, “Yesterday, Downtown Line (DTL) crossed an important milestone: 150 days without any major service disruption… This is the challenge of running a disruption-free rail service, not just here in Singapore, but also in other cities like Hong Kong or Taipei or London. Hence crossing each 100-day, 150-day and 200-day milestone is a timely opportunity to encourage them on towards the next milestone.”

He then said, “Sadly, news came that two SMRT colleagues were killed by a moving train while attending to a problem near Pasir Ris MRT station… our hearts are with the families and will do our best to support and assist them.”

He ended off the post saying that while he was at the DTL Depot to celebrate the milestone, his heart and those of his team who attended the event were “heavy”.

The majority of those who reacted to the post clicked the “angry” Facebook emoticon. Many commenters have criticised Khaw for being “insensitive”.

An Alvin Lim said, “Sir, I really don’t think you should be celebrating your achievements when two staff had just died. It’s rather insensitive.”

A Yong Jie Thng said, “No deaths should be downplayed by phasing it below another ‘beautified’ post. At least have the heart to dedicate one full post for the deceased.”

A Joee Goh said, “This post is highly inappropriate. Your priorities.. I can only say I am saddened by the fact that your milestones are way more important than our fellow singaporeans’ lives. Ask if any Singaporeans would regard your 100 days milestones more important than a life - be him or her a singaporean, a foreigner or even a tourist. You should remove this post Sir.”

Some of those who responded to Khaw’s post complained about having their comments deleted.

An Adam Ali said, “He sure got his priorities mixed up… self congratulatory first then say about death of the staff … add self censorship too by deleting unfavourable comments.”

A Patrick Tan said, “For over an hour many users’ comments have been deleted including 2 of my comments after 6.06pm but before 7.10pm yesterday!”

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