For at least half a year in 2018, Singaporeans will see more train breakdowns resulted from an ongoing signalling works on the East-West Line. Started this month with no project completion date, 19 stations in total – 17 on the East-West Line and 2 North-South Line stations, Bukit Batok and Bukit Gombak – will end operation hours at 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Service will also start later at 8am instead of the usual 5.30am on Saturdays and Sundays. In the meantime, train-replacement buses charge full fares when it has always been a free service.
The new Thomson-East Coast Line, which will be operated by SMRT, is still under construction and not ready until 2019. Even if the works are completed, more “teething” issues of the new lines and signalling systems are expected to occur. The pet excuse of SMRT goes like this: the train system is too old, or the train system is too new.
Propaganda state media Straits Times however claim otherwise in an article titled “SMRT back on track after woeful year”. The 154th-ranking government mouthpiece pined it’s hope on the new SMRT Chairman, and made zero mention of the two white elephant CEOs, Desmond Kuek and Lee Ling Wee. Straits Times praised the new SMRT Chairman for bowing during a press conference. SMRT Chairman Seah Moon Ming’s bow was indeed a surprise to the public as the Singapore ruling party elites never once show remorse or humility. However, the novelty wore off very soon when a train collision incident happened 4 days later.
Straits Times also praised Seah Moon Ming’s “dedication” for focusing on his SMRT role by quitting his director position at a Temasek Holdings’ subsidiary. The news however was not very well-received by the public, as Singaporeans have long been slamming ruling party politicians for treating political appointments as “part-time jobs”.
Following a 4.2% fare raise in 2017, there are more to be angry about with SMRT as it persistently fail to deliver a decent train service. After more than 6 years of train breakdowns, the patience of some have ran out. In recent months, many have rightfully been calling out SMRT in various petitions with the same message: the rot is at the top, and that the two CEOs must be replaced.