SMRT CEO staying to 'put everything right'

Ewen Boey

Beleaguered SMRT chief executive Saw Phaik Hwa has confirmed that she will not be resigning for now after three train line breakdowns last week.

The 57-year-old said she was taking responsibility for the incidents but emphasised that now isn’t the right time for her to leave her post.

“As CEO of SMRT, I am naturally responsible (for the breakdowns). Being responsible does not mean walking away from these faults; it means doing all I can to get the problem fixed," said Saw in a statement responding to calls for her to step down as CEO.

"No good leader will leave the field when the battle is on. I am staying put now to do my work, and put everything right," she pointed out.

On Saturday, about 80 people turned up for a gathering organised by The Online Citizen (TOC) at Speakers’ Corner to call for Saw to resign immediately.

Former Workers’ Party treasurer Eric Tan, who spoke at the rally, said, “This (the train disruptions) is a failure in management, and a sign of complacency. The CEO should resign and take responsibility for what has happened.”

The five-hour train breakdown along the North-South MRT line on Thursday is said to be the worst in SMRT’s 24-year history, with Saw conceding that a lot of things went wrong.

“Admittedly,  there were several problems that surfaced during the disruptions. These include our detraining procedures, announcements to the public, and bus shuttling arrangements. We could have done better in these areas, and minimise the inconveniences to, and frustrations of, the commuters,” she said.

Saw also apologised to commuters for causing frustration and inconvenience, and added that she emphathised and understood how they felt.

According to statistics quoted by The Straits Times, Saw joined SMRT from a 19-year stint DFS Venture Singapore, where she was regional president.

The paper added that SMRT’s net profit rose from S$56.8 million in 2002, when she joined, to S$161.1 million this year.