Unable to face intense public pressure from Singapore’s failing MRT train system, former army general Chew Men Leong resigned from his chief executive post from statutory board Land Transport Authority (LTA) yesterday (Aug 6). The chief of Navy joined only in October 2014, and has been in the chief executive position for only 22 months – the shortest stint ever for a chief executive in the Civil Service.
LTA CEO Chew Meng Leong’s resignation is caused directly by the deterioration of Singapore’s public transport system. Just last week, 5 unrelated train faults happened in a single week. The “private sector” SMRT and SBS Transit are unfazed by train breakdowns and continue to make tens of millions in profits. The LTA CEO is also getting the full blame for covering up the return of 27 faulty China-made trains.
Under the former army general, SBS and SMRT are given S$1.1 billion of taxes in free handouts under the questionable “bus contracting framework”, which many see as an open and legalised form of corruption giving profit-making companies welfare.
Chew Meng Leong’s friend, former Navy admiral Lui Tuck Yew, was Transport Minister and he resigned before the 2015 General Elections because he is also incapable of handling the public transport profile. Fellow army general Desmond Kwek, reigning the position of CEO in SMRT, failed to fix the SMRT breakdown issues and has also recently decided to sell the entire company back to the government’s Temasek Holdings.
The is no replacement for the LTA CEO position at the moment. The use of army generals and officers for vital profiles in Singapore has always resulted in costly losses for Singapore. Earlier this year, Singapore’s national logistic company Neptune Orient Line was sold off by its CEO, former army general Ng Yat Chung. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong himself is also a Brigadier General and his government draws the lowest public confidence in Singapore, evident by the rise in Opposition support.