photo of Khaw Boon Wan from youtube

According to a popular local forum, online user, scroobal, revealed that the Singapore government and SMRT were in cahoots over the cover up of the faulty train. Apparently, SMRT were very well aware of the problems of the China-made trains since May 2011, but the Temasek Holdings-owned company did not want to reveal the news to embarrass the government because Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong just apologised on Election day during the May 2011 election.

SMRT then passed the responsibilities of the faulty trains to the government’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) and LTA decided to procure more trains from the same company to “water down” the inferior trains:

“LTA then came up with their disingenuous plan B to cover up the mess which involved every single one of the trains and no just the 26. They would order more new trains much earlier the usual and do a switch over when the new replacement trains came on line.”

You may read more here:

“1. Infrastructure and rolling stock belongs to LTA and not SMRT or the other subway operators. LTA placed the contract in 2009 for 22 trains and a further 13 trains in 2011 to the second highest bidder. This consortium was led by Kawasaki who have supplying trains cars to MRT since 1986. The 2009 and 2011 contracts was the first to include a Chinese partner who will do the main build.

2. The first trains from the Chinese builder went on line in May 2011 with the last of the first 22 to be operational by 2012. The remaining 13 would come online in 2013. However issues kept popping up from day 1 when the first trains arrived in May 2011. Within 3 months significant defects including cracked undercarriage, body and the actual integrity of the whole construction was being questioned. This is when the first cover-up began in earnest because the PM apologised to the nation in May 2011 during GE2011 and more bad news was not going to help matters.

3. The shattered windows and exploding batteries were all minor and a smoke screen. SMRT and Temasek refused to be held responsible for the defects and it fell on LTA and Ministry of Transport to resolve it.

4. LTA then came up with their disingenuous plan B to cover up the mess which involved every single one of the trains and no just the 26. They would order more new trains much earlier the usual and do a switch over when the new replacement trains came on line. To give a semblance of normalcy they again awarded contracts to the same consortium but in this case, the main build be done by Kawasaki and the Chinese company do only assembly work.

5. Plan B also involved Kawasaki to do monthly checks on these trains and do onsite rectification ( read as temporary repairs until return of the entire train). This charade began in late 2011 and continued till they were returned which is in 2016. Imagine your Toyota car being inspected every month by Borneo motors to ensure safety. Unheard of? But necessary as they were not sure if it will fall apart or be unsafe. Yes, you heard it right, the manufacturer checking every one of the 35 trains ever month in Singapore for the last few years.

6. So in 2012, LTA accelerated new replacement train procurement programme to do the coverup.

7. Here is the interesting and rather explosive bid – the trains that are returned are to completely stripped and disassembled, parts cannibalised for new body work and bogie (undercarriage) to be assembled. The Chinese company will no longer be in manufacturing but will only assemble parts provided by Kawasaki. Kawasaki will build the body and the bogie plus all the main components. So the entire Contract 151A build has been screwed up – not fit for purpose.

8. Here is the second explosive bit – SMRT Head of Trains Lee Ling Wee without coordinating with LTA yesterday revealed that these returned trains will fixed and sent back to Singapore in 2023. 7 years later!!! LTA’s news release yesterday did not reveal this. Here is the short answer. Remember the accelerated programme in 2012 that was part of the cover-up and with further orders since then to meet demand. Well apparently we no longer need these trains as they will be surplus to stock and will be rusting in the yard if they are returned immediately.

9. The person who told me this even said that Mindef procurement who have their own share of mishaps in purchasing equipment such as ships, tanks, planes etc did not screw as badly as this and did organise coverup of this nature that ran for 5 years in such an organised manner.

10. More striking is the involvement of Japanese company who together with LTA kept this entirely secret for 5 years from Singaporeans. The leak interestingly came from the executives from the Chinese company who apparently never had trains returned from another country and treated the event with great novelty.”