Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) today revealed that “fewer than 20 students”  were late for thier O and A levels examinations on Monday morning (Oct 26) due to the severe train breakdown along the North-East Line (NEL).

The Monday breakdown occured because of a faulty train testing that damaged a power cable resulting in massive power outage along the NEL. On the same day, there were O level exmainations for Additional Maths and A level examinations for Chinese, Malay and Tamil scheduled at 8am.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan did not apologise for the incident but instead put up a short reminder on Murphy’s law, indicating that his ministry and the public transport operators SBS and SMRT should have prepared for the worst:

“Since breakdowns cannot be completely eliminated, we must be prepared for Murphy’s Law and expect the worst. Even when things are tried and tested, we must anticipate and buffer for further glitches and failures, so we do not let the stress of something unplanned happen during stressful events, like our children’s national examination”

In his blogpost today (Oct 26), Minister Khaw Boon Wan added that his ministry’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) should not have conducted the train test on a Sunday evening “on hindsight”:

“In hindsight, the LTA (Land Transport Authority) agreed that it could have limited the testing to only Saturday night or Sunday morning, rather than Sunday night, eating into Monday morning. This is a scheduling detail which we learnt through this episode. This ‘last mile’ – that of de-conflicting and not allowing two critical events to occur at the same time – is the sort of fine-tuning we need to do, while stepping up reliability of trains.”

The Transport Minister however did not indicate the possibility of having any penalty for SBS Transit. Just yesterday, there were two train breakdowns happening on the East-West line and North-South line. Minister Khaw Boon Wan did not bring up the two incidents, suggesting the lacklustre attitude of the ruling party government over the delivery of public transport.