Ngien Hoon Ping (right) from dvids

A new SAF general who was in the Singapore army for 26 years has been parachuted for the CEO position of the Land Transport Authority (LTA). According to the Ministry of Transport yesterday (Sep 26), current deputy secretary (performance) at the Ministry of Finance, 47-year-old Ngien Hoon Ping, will be promoted on Nov 12.

The LTA CEO position has seen no takers since the previous CEO, another former high ranking military officer, resigned on Aug 5. The former rear-admiral threw in the white towel after being unable to fix the worsening state of public transport, especially the train breakdowns, in the 2 years he was CEO.

The incoming LTA CEO will serve as CEO-designate from next month onwards (Oct 31) until his official take-up on Nov 12. Ngien Hoon Ping was a first-class graduate with an electrical and electronic engineering degree from the University of Manchester, and holds a master degree in industrial and system engineering from NUS. The SAF scholar has never worked a day in the private sector.

Singapore practise a closely-knitted nepotistic system of selecting leaders from a small group of elites. Although the legalised corruption clear the government of any wrongdoing, army generals in Singapore tend to screw up the organisations they were assigned to, especially those handling the private sector. Former army general Ng Yat Chung ran the country’s national shipping company NOL into losses and ended up selling the 48-year-old company in Jun 2016. Former Read-Admiral Lui Tuck Yew resigned as Transport Minister after he ended up giving SMRT and SBS more money and yet saw no improvement in Singapore’s public transport. The current SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek is also a former army general who is rumored to be leaving his job soon after an embarrassing cover-up scandal over the return of 26 defective China-made MRT trains.