Singapore’s private transport operator SMRT will be fully bought over by the Singapore Government under Temasek Holdings at the cost of S$1.18 billion. Temasek Holdings will buy over SMRT’s remaining 45% shares at S$1.68 a share, and will be de-listed from the Singapore Stock Exchange.

Under Temasek Holdings, SMRT will be obligated to provide full maintenance support as the Singapore authorities required, unlike in the past where SMRT were making tens of millions of profits while the system quality were left to break down and deteriorate. Last week, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced that it will buy over the physical assets of SMRT at S$1.06 billion.

Chia Song Hwee, president of Temasek International, said in a media interview:

“Temasek Holdings is proposing to move SMRT to private ownership so that it can more closely collaborate with (SMRT) on system-level transformation, including its transition to the new regulatory environment without the distraction of being a listed company. We will have greater flexibility to work with SMRT as a private entity to seek sustainable long-term solutions as part of its transition.”

This is the second army general failure in managing a private entreprise. SMRT CEO Desmond Kwek has effectively failed to deliver a reliable public transport solution to Singaporeans and now, relied on the Singapore authorities to pick up his mess. Another army general Ng Chong Yat lost Singapore’s national shipping company, Neptune Orient Line (NOL) in December 2015.

Desmond Kwek was promoted to become the CEO of SMRT in 2012 because of his former general rank in the army, even though he has never managed a business or worked in the private sector before. Other army generals, like Desmond Kwek, who promoted to their positions with no experience includes Tan Chuan Jin, Chan Chun Sing and Lee Hsien Loong.

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