Seriously, Saw Phaik Hwa must go.

Obviously she didn’t have a direct hand in the train delays but seeing how the SMRT saga has unfolded over the last couple of days, I’m not sure if I should put the farce down to mis-management or suayness.

When she uttered the horribly politically incorrect statements on how commuters have a choice, some shareholders I know were saying that the lady is an idiot because saying politically incorrect statements is always bad for reputation and a bad rep is bad for business. It doesn’t mean that just because one is a quasi-monopoly (find me another North-South or East-West line and I’ll say I’m wrong), one can get away with that.

Now, the horror is that these train delays are due to some rail faults- that sounds like inadequate inspection and maintenance to me and that to me reeks of negligence. While SMRT may be a for-profit company and hence  one can argue that her fiduciary duty is to reap profits for shareholders.However, as an ex-shareholder I must say this to her, “How is inadequate inspection and maintenance supposed to bring you profits? All you are doing is sacrificing future profits for the present and worse still, with incidents like this, how on earth do you expect LTA to award you the operational rights to future lines in order to perpetuate the existence of the quasi-monopoly?? Answer that!!!” (honestly, I hope someone asks her that at the next AGM.)

By the way, LTA and/or Tuck Yew, as regulators should bear some of the blame too. When faced with a monopoly, a regulator’s role is to ensure that monopolies don’t extract so much consumer surplus without channeling it back into maintenance or improvements.

I’m looking forward to the Commission of Inquiry’s (COI) report. If it was found that the damage to the third rail was due to the increased frequency of the trains, I wonder who might the blame fall on- regulators for insistence on standards that the infrastructure couldn’t handle? Or perhaps standards were reasonable but SMRT was negligent. I hear the SMRT CEO is well-versed in tai chi. Either way, someone’s head will roll (metaphorically of course).

PS: If Saw Phaik Hwa is not suay, then explain this.