SMRT Corp says the remuneration of its president and chief executive office, Desmond Kuek, “is benchmarked to peer companies” and that it “is competitive and at a responsible level.”
Mr Kuek’s remuneration has been the target of criticisms since the company released its annual report on Monday.
In it, Mr Kuek’s salary was reported to be in the range of between S$2.25 million and S$2.5 million.
This is a multifold increase in just three years.
The former chief of defence force was roped in to head SMRT in October 2012, where he is reported to have been paid S$611,000 for the first six months.
With his new salary range, Mr Kuek is now the highest-paid SMRT CEO the company has ever employed.
His predecessor, Saw Phaik Hwa, who quit amidst widespread unhappiness over service standards, was drawing S$1.85 million at the time.
It was then a record pay scale in SMRT, which was in turn a hike over the previous record of S$1.67 million she received in 2010.
The Straits Times reported on Thursday that Mr Kuek’s salary is also higher than his counterpart at rival transport group, ComfortDelgro, which is a “significantly larger company” compared to SMRT Corp.
Mr Kua Hong Pak, the CEO of ComfortDelgro, was paid between S$1.75 million and S$2 million.
The CEO of SBS Transit, Gan Huay Kiat, received much less than Mr Kuek.
Mr Gan was paid between $500,000 to S$750,000.
SMRT Corp director, Tan Ek Kia, told the Straits Times that Mr Kuek’s remuneration package was comparable to those of other “peer companies”.
He also said that “the new CEO’s tasks were more daunting than before.”
Mr Kuek had said in another interview earlier this week that SMRT has “made tremendous progress on many fronts” but that there “is much more to be done to improve rail reliability.”
In December 2014, the TODAY newspaper reported that the number of major MRT delays had hit “a four-year high”.