Written by Emily Eng

After almost 6 years of service, SMRT Chief Desmond Kuek is stepping down for former Chief of Defence Force Neo Kian Hong to take the helm this August. This does not come as a surprise, as rumours of Kuek’s resignation have been floating around since the flooding of Bishan station last year.

Much online jest has been made around this new appointment. Many people found it ironic that Kuek had handed over to Neo the post of Chief of Defence not too long ago, making the entire leadership appointment process seem like a legacy system of sorts. In response, someone had gone on to Wikipedia to edit the ranks of the Singapore Armed Forces to include SMRT CEO as the topmost rank.

Netizens are generally peeved that in the wake of multiple breakdowns and incidents over the past few years (including the fatal accident involving 2 young SMRT staff), the role had not been given to someone with more transport experience. SMRT has since explained that they had hired a global executive search agency to help in selecting their new CEO, and that much thought had gone into selecting Neo out of a pool of 20 candidates.

Why is this important?

This piece of news is trending, probably because every Singaporean seems particularly attached to SMRT (especially when the train breaks down and you are stuck in the carriage with nothing to talk about to the person next to you other than about SMRT).

But since most of us are not the train experts we make ourselves sound like we are, we are only left to wonder how this new leadership change will pan out, crossing our fingers that our trains remain as trains instead of in-tunnel submarines submerged at Bishan station. While it’s always fun to jab at SMRT’s leadership once in a while, it is good to remind each other that we are all in this train-wreck of a situation together and we should wish the new leadership all the best.

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