Neo Kian Hong (far left) from Facebook

SMRT saw another major train breakdown yesterday (May 18) on the East-West Line. At around 5pm yesterday, the East-West line saw trains halted and moving slowly for over 30 minutes. SMRT did not disclose the cause of the disruption and only advised commuters of a “20-min delay”. No alternative bus service was provided. This is the second consecutive major breakdown, after a 3 hour outage on the North-South Line on Thursday during the peak hour period.

On both occasions, the newly-appointed SMRT CEO Neo Kian Hong put up a disappearing act. There was no statement from the former army general who was vaunted by the state media as a “visionary leader” shortlisted after a “global search of over 30 talents”.

The new CEO is emulating outgoing SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek, also a former army general, who became complacent about public accountability and stopped addressing train breakdowns personally.

According to Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, SMRT CEO Neo Kian Hong has already started his duties at SMRT in April even though his official appointment is on August 1.

The former Brigadier General’s appointment has been met with fierce criticisms from the public, due to his lack of private sector and rail business experience. Neo Kian Hong was put as SMRT CEO because he is a trusted crony of dictator Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who has a habit of making former army generals Ministers and CEOs of state-owned companies. Although cronyism and nepotism is actively practised by the Singapore government, Singaporeans are often charged for defamation when they called out such corruption.

SMRT is currently owned by Temasek Holdings, whose CEO is the wife of Lee Hsien Loong, Ho Ching. As the high-level connections parallel to that of fallen Malaysian dictator Najib Razak’s administration, the ruling party PAP is afraid losing power means criminal prosecution. Lee Hsien Loong currently controls the Attorney General, who is his former personal lawyer and friend Lucien Wong, the President, who is his former PAP subordinate MP, and the CPIB corruption bureau.