Saw Phaik Hwa defends lavish spending in TNP exclusive

Outgoing SMRT CEO Saw Phaik Hwa is back in the media spotlight again.
After launching her personal blog last week, the 57-year-old has now defended her lavish spending habits in a wide-ranging exclusive interview by The New Paper on Sunday.
Saw, who lives in a landed property off Lornie Road and owns two luxury cars, a Ferrari California and Mercedes-Benz 500, earned $1.85 million in 2010.
“I think I should spend it as I wish. Nothing wrong with that,” said the CEO who will be leaving SMRT for good on April 5.
“I don’t have the fortune that many people have to get married, have many children and dote on them. I’m single... I spend a lot of money on my extended family, especially the older people in my life,” she added.
She also said she had earned her right to spend, having been a CEO for many years and “worked for so many years at a reasonably high income.”
On her million-dollar pay package, she said “the package is scrutinized, benchmarked to the job that I do… and the pay is not top-end. It’s not top-end.”
Over the three-page spread on TNP, she also talked her decision to resign in January. Her decision to quit came almost three weeks after the twin SMRT train breakdowns in mid-December that affected over 200,000 commuters.
She said despite initially vowing to stay on fix the problems in the immediate aftermath of the breakdowns, things began to “snowball” and that it was “very difficult because every faction was coming at us”.
After struggling for one whole night over her decision, she finally decided to hand in her resignation letter to the SMRT board in early January to “defuse the bubble” so SMRT could get on and “do what is right for the organization.”
On her future, she said she’s received a few offers but has yet to decide, insisting that she is not planning to retire for good for another 5-10 years.
In a separate development, Saw has added a second entry on her personal blog entitled “My first 30 days at SMRT” on Saturday.
In it, she highlighted the initial three challenges she faced – low consumer confidence in the LRT, merging with TIBs and increasing profitability.
She also said she was unfazed by the negative comments she received since launching her blog last week.
“The blog is an open-to-all portal. If you have enjoyed what I’ve posted so far, thank you for reading. If you have not found it interesting, then perhaps an alternate blog or website might better suit you. I leave it up to you.”

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