At a joint Land Transport Authority and SMRT press conference today (Oct 16), Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan defended himself against all criticisms over the recent train tunnel flooding by pushing all blame to SMRT:
“The Saturday incident, (on) October 7 evening, was sad and unnecessary – but preventable. It should not have happened. We are all sorry that it did… Our findings is that the anti-flooding system there had been poorly maintained… The SMRT team in charge of maintaining the anti-flood system at Bishan has failed us. Basically, MRT tunnels are designed to handle our weather, and can cope with very extreme storms, far more severe than what we experienced in the last two weeks… (The) bottomline is that MRT tunnels should not be flooded. Full stop.”
Joining S$1.1 million-a-year Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan are the two ex-military men SMRT CEOs Desmond Kuek and Lee Ling Wee who each took S$1.8 million last year, the trio staged a fake apology without volunteering a resignation or pay cut.
Just two weeks ago on Oct 7, the train tunnels between Bishan and Newton were flooded with rain water because the water pumping system was faulty. Investigations of the fault found that SMRT have not maintained the pumping system for a long time, leading to the failure.
SMRT CEOs Desmond Kuek and Lee Ling Wee were also forced to bow and apologise publicly at the press conference today. SMRT Chairman Seah Moon Ming apologised for the company:
“We are very sorry for the Saturday incident and the inconvenience caused to commuters. We are conducting system-wide checks and accelerating our replacement of all ageing and replaceable components where necessary.”
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that his mood was badly affected by the train disruption:
“Before the Oct 7 incident, I had been looking forward to the month of October, because of several “good things” happening in Singapore’s transportation scene. This included the stabilising of the North-South Line’s new signalling system, which went into full testing in May; the signing of several regional agreements at the recently-concluded Asean Transport Ministers Meeting; and the upcoming opening of the Downtown Line 3 on Oct 21. It (the Oct 7 incident) upset the tempo and it pushed back the recovery of public confidence in us.”