Photo of Khaw Boon Wan from CNA

Responding to media queries at the Bishan Deport today (July 12), Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan admitted that he knew about the faulty China-made trains and covered it up to “avoid undue panic”. Calling the defects “non-major”, Transport Minister decided that it is better not to let the public know about the defective trains:

“Trains were being returned to China for repairs due to hairline cracks could have caused undue panic. Going public for something that was not a major event might have caused unnecessary panic to the layman, noting that to engineers, not all cracks are the same. If all cracks are have to be reported when they do not cause any of those safety issues then they have to think about what is the impact on the ground. Looking back I think it’s understandable. We learn as we go along, sometimes even routine matters can be spun out of control as it happened in this case.

…So if the rectification requires us to take away too many trains … I’m quite sure Ministry Of Transport together with LTA would have also decided even though it’s not a safety issue, because it will affect availability of trains, I’m sure they will go public and explain why, we will now have to slow down on our program of increasing the capacity.”

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) Deputy Chief Executive also sang the same song with the Transport Minister saying that the cracks are non-critical and that the government would never allow the train to go into service if these defects are critical.

According to the LTA, the defective China-made trains were not responsible for the train breakdowns and that most of the breakdowns are resulted from 2014 were “linked to signalling faults, door or brake issues, with none linked to hairline cracks.”

As to public enquiries why the Singapore government continued to award a further S$749 million contract for 91 trains to the same China manufacturer, LTA claimed that the defects, though many, were “resolved conclusively”. The LTA deputy chief said:

“Kawasaki / Sifang has shown a high level of responsiveness and strong sense of responsibility in addressing the issue… More and more trains are being produced in China”, and that it was “becoming the norm.”