Corrupted Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan yesterday (Nov 7) put up a dramatic defence for former army general SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek, claiming that the latter volunteered for the S$1.87 million-a-year dollar job instead of being “parachuted in”.
The Transport Minister was responding to calls from the public to fire the former army general whose charge has worsen train reliability in recent years:
“SMRT group chief executive officer Desmond Kuek, who took over the reins at SMRT in 2012, had volunteered for the position. “He wasn’t parachuted in or being asked to go and fix this, he volunteered for this job. As the former chief of defence force, I know his heart is in the right place.”
The former army general attended the Parliament’s hearing, sitting at the public gallery and was visibly satisfied from Minister Khaw Boon Wan’s speech.
Minister Khaw Boon Wan then started his usual story-telling about Sun Tsu’s Art of War claiming that Desmond Kuek’s failure is acceptable:
“As said in Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu’s Art of War, there are bound to be defeats and losses in this multi-year war to improve rail reliability. And if people were to attack the troops or call for the switch of a general each time something disappointing happens, this would be a sure strategy for failure.”
Minister Khaw Boon Wan then attacked the former SMRT Chairman Koh Yong Guan and said that he has pressured owner Temasek Holdings to dismiss him from SMRT earlier and made way for the new Chairman Seah Moon Ming:
“My regret that it took so long to bring in Mr Seah, who succeeded Mr Koh Yong Guan in July… Even though the former chairman has been at SMRT for several years, I made it quite clear to Mr Lim (Temasek Holdings Chairman) that “no matter how brilliant you are, I think it’s time for change.” My only disappointment is that we took so long before we got this done. If Mr Seah was earlier executed in this change of leadership, maybe we could have avoided this.”