Photo of Patrick Nathan from Today

The vice-president for corporate communications, Patrick Nathan, yesterday (Jan 29) announced his resignation from SMRT after 5 years, due to his poor performance in delivering timely train service disruption announcements.

The 56-year-old former Singapore Armed Force (SAF) colonel who was parachuted into the SMRT position as retirement said that he is “pursuing other interests”, but according to sources close with SMRT, Patrick Nathan has been receiving poor approval due to the lack of responsiveness during breakdown updates. In recent months, SMRT have stopped publishing some train delay information or even breakdown information.

Due to the lack of public notifications, a train service disruption worsened the state of chaos at the affected stations. Weeks after weeks of tardy, incomplete or absence of announcements, some Singaporeans formed private Facebook groups to set up their own train breakdown alert system.

In Nov 2017, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) formally warned SMRT in a press release that train service disruptions announcements must not be skipped. The move was rare considering that the state-owned company is closely-knitted with the LTA, and that it appears LTA is drawing a line with SMRT so the fiasco would not affect Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan’s reputation.

SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek first brought the former military officer into SMRT in 2013, as part of his move to surround himself with ex-military cronies. Along with ex-military man Lee Ling Wee who is second SMRT CEO, the ex-military officers screwed up SMRT further due to their lack of private sector experience. None of them knew how the train system worked, but they were put in-charged of the state-owned railway company by the Prime Minister-controlled President.

Currently, there has been calls for SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek and Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan to resign as punishments for several life-endangering screw-ups like tunnel flooding, train collision and a case where LRT trains failed to detect a drunk man who have fallen onto the railway track.