SMRT Leadership Change : A Breath Of Stale Air


By: B Goode

One General out, another General in.

In out in out in out.

It’s like watching a porn movie isn’t it? It gets stale real quick.

Former defence chief Neo Kian Hong is set to replace former General Desmond Kuek as SMRT CEO after what SMRT claimed to be a global search for a replacement.

In short, nobody suitable wanted the job! Boohoo!

And why would they? It wasn’t that the SMRT was too challenging for them. On the contrary. The SMRT, to put it in context, is one of the smallest train companies in the world. It is not even the bigger companies in Singapore. Their recent $26 million profit is hardly enough to buy a house along Oxley Road. The only challenge the SMRT has is to manage customers’ expectations. Where’s the challenge in that?

So the question everyone should be asking is not why a former defence chief got the job at SMRT but why couldn’t he get a bigger and better job? He is a former defence chief ffs and yet he is now asked to play with a toy train set…

Why not try his luck in the bigger international conglomerations?

From what I‘ve gathered, Neo Kian Hong is a no-nonsense task master who gets things done. Good for him. If there’s a group of people who needs a kick up their asses, it would be the SMRT staff who are settled in their `bochap’ complacent attitude. How many times have you seen SMRT staff having a nice long chat in the coffee shop at 3 o’clock in the morning when they should be taking advantage of the short maintenance window?

And using cable-ties…..

So back to the question. Why is Mr Awesome asked to helm a small company?

And herein lies something that has been bugging me. It seems as though all the cushy jobs in the GLCs are reserved for members of a certain clique. I don’t have to explain it do I? It is as obvious as the non-existence of God.

If the government truly believed in meritocracy, then perhaps they should start putting square pegs in square holes and not to parachute in clique members even if that clique member, as in the case of General Neo Kian Hong, is over-qualified.

Just imagine his resume:

2010 – 2013 : Chief Of Defence Force of one of the most powerful army in South-East-Asia

2018 – Present : CEO of SMRT.


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