In a Channel News Asia report dated 16 November (Thursday), Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam was quoted saying that he was "confident" that Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan will be able to "sort things out" following Wednesday's (Nov 15) train collision at Joo Koon MRT station.
In a Facebook post on his page, Mr Shanmugam wrote that Mr Khaw went into Ministry of Transport in October 2015. Since then there have been significant improvements, building on the good work of his predecessor, Mr Lui Tuck Yew.
"Of special note, Min Khaw has moved to strengthen the engineering teams," he added.
Mr Shanmugam also wrote that it has been a tough 2 years for Boon Wan, adding, "But I have every confidence that he will deal with the challenges."
The Minister then stated that Mr Khaw has set a new target for an MKBF (Mean Kilometres Between Failure) of 1,000,000 train-km by 2020.
"Very ambitious. But I believe he will be able to achieve it," he wrote.
More than 952 people have expressed their opinion on Mr Shanmugam in CNA's comments section, bashing Mr Shanmugam for his statement made in support of his colleague minister.
Some stated that there had been simply no positive improvement in the MRT system.
Derrick Ng wrote, "Significant improvements I agree. The number of breakdowns increased significantly, that's for sure."
Siah Jin Kim wrote, "Two workers died during maintenance, flooding in tunnels, two trains 'come into contact' with each other, three breakdowns in a day. Do you call this improvement?"
Ng Chow Yong wrote, "'Significant improvements' means occurrences of flooding, collision, falsification of maintenance records, toxic work culture etc.? I’m sure commuters are thankful to these 'significant improvements'!"
Brian Knight wrote, "Yes what a Great 'Significant Improvement' includes train occasional faulty, flooded tracks platform and 'kiss' collision that causes injury to 29 passengers."
Suresh Khumar wrote, "What improvement is he talking about?
Flooding in the MRT tunnel, the whole of NS and EW trains breakdowns during peak hours, two MRT staff killed by oncoming trains while doing track repair, 28 people sent to hospital yesterday & daily occurrence of train breakdowns, 1st day of service of new downtown Line train breakdown, etc and you call these improvement?
Shanmugam, should just shut up and take care of his own ministries. He wants to says some good words to KBW, he can say it in private while he is stretching KBW back. No one will bother about it."
NottiBen wrote, "I would like to ask Minister Shanmugam what exactly was the significant improvements that he had seen in our transport system since 2015?
I quote MinisterShanmugam’s comment in his FB that Minister Khaw had strengthened the engineering team, then why are there more cases of signalling fault and failure arises for the last 1-2 years? Worse of all, the signalling fault also arises from new lines which are just 2-3 years old?
I know the portfolio as Minister of Transport is very heavy. But the inconvenience caused to public users had increased tremendously since 2015."
Alicia Siau Temari wrote, "This is ridiculous. Improvements like what? We only see significant breakdowns almost daily issues. I pity those PSLE students who are late because of SMRT. It is not just late for work. How would Khaw feel if parent are late and miss their kids' performance? How do their kids feel when they are late for exams?"
Patrick Leongsk wrote, "Minister Shanmugam, be honest to your fellow cabinet Minister Khaw. On what basis do you say there was significant improvement since he took over from Lui? If Lui as you said had done good work, then why was he asked to leave and made a scapegoat? Be sincere and honest and tell Khaw "It's a sham and shame". Why set target for 2020 when things are falling apart now? Be realistic and practical, just set a target for 2018 and see if Khaw is up to it."
Ben Oh wrote, "Oh by significant improvement, do you mean more breakdowns under his charge? Improvement is the government taking over SMRT and acting blur by constantly emphasizing it's a private company. It means taxpayers are subsidising its operations and there's no improvement on kpis or the lack of it!! Don't give yourself a pat on the shoulders when we commuters don't think you deserved that!!"
Nelson Ng wrote, "Improve? I think it is getting from bad to worse and then the worst. He should be replaced ASAP . I think LTA and government should rethink how they should manage public transport operators more proactively but not just sit back and let operators to run (up to the operators to do it mindset), then finger pointing if any problem happens."
Edmund Teng wrote, "Significant improvements in the number of people taking other means of public transport, other than the trains. Minister Shanmugam, I have just lost my respect for you because you are just like the other puppets."
Some stated that Mr Khaw has failed miserably and needs to step down.
Michael Tan wrote, "Huh? You really think so??? KBW in both ministry Health and Transport both got big problems. He failed as a minister."
Habib Noo wrote, "Are you blind or what, K Shanmugam Sc? Have you taken the MRT everyday? Yesterday and today was the worst of the days I took MRT. Our system is getting worse because of Khaw Boon Wan. If everyone can see there is a fault after he came in, Why you government cannot see it. Yo know how my pregnant wife suffers today. You know how freaking crowded the train today. She is damn upset about the system. Of course she cannot get a seat because there are also many pregnant and elderly from middle class or low class going to work or somewhere. We cannot spend everyday on a cab or Uber to get to somewhere. Please, try a new minister or someone from opposition not from PAP please."
Jason Tan wrote, "I disagree Minister Shanmugam. I have never seen so many issues with public transport in a single year itself with previous Transport Ministers and moreover, those previous transport ministers are not deputy prime minister like Minister Khaw. I think its fair to expect more from him and instead things get worse and what he does is just keep blaming others instead of himself. At least Minister Tuck Yew was aware he didn’t do well, but Khaw was acting like nothing happen. Its just bad luck he says. Come on. the whole world is watching."
Mary Fernandez wrote, "It’s time KBW step down graciously and the Government to put reliable people to run its ministries properly. People who know their job and are trained in this field."
Terence Tan wrote, "Persistent lapses in maintenance, safety, operations & management. Stop wasting taxpayers’ and commuters’ money and testing our patience. It is high time for the overpaid, under-performing guys at the top to “volunteer” to catch the next train and balek kampong (go home)!"
Many asked Ministers to take public transport everyday so that they would get the whole picture of what commuters need to face every single day.
Roy CJ Gwee wrote, "Sometimes it's better to call a spade , a "spade" and from a realistic perspective, attend to the issues. Statistical analytics of improvement mean nothing when you are late for work, an appointment or even a flight! Meanwhile, one works hard trying to dig oneself out of the need to depend on the transport system that failed you while the very ministry that failed you happily and without any good reason pushes taxes on private transport increasingly out of your reach! You call that working for the citizens! Come off your theoretical high horse, your own private transport with your salary paid for by the citizens, and come use the public transport system you praise so much."
Chang Anthony wrote, "Perhaps all cabinet should consider to take train from now onwards. Maybe then we might see some improvement!"
Gabriel Khoo wrote, "Shanmugam. Please let me know when was the last time you had an MRT experience and did you ever encounter a breakdown before. Don't speak as if you are a commuter."
Ameerah Aziz wrote, "Perhaps the Ministers should consider switching to public transport like the rest of us to experience these "significant inprovements". Just try it for a month and experience the reliability of the MRT. Us commuters have been dealing with these inconveniences for years now, and our patience are running thin. It's sad that when I wake up at 5.30am for work and see there's a thunderstorm outside, the first thing I think is, "Oh no, is the train going to break down?" I'm fortunate that my company is understanding when these train delays occur and workers come in late, but others may not be so fortunate.
However, despite all the setbacks, I'm thankful for the hard work and hours that the SMRT ground staff have been putting in. Things may be tough right now, but hang in there."
Mr Lim Chee Seng stated that there seems to be a fundamental flaw in the entire design.
He wrote, "The way I see it, there is a fundamental flaw in the entire met design,could be the signalling system, SOP procedures etc etc. Unless they get to the source of the problem, which I think now they lack the expertise to do so (doubt DSTA have such area of expertise), This problem will continue to plague the MRT for years to come."
Mr Andy Ho stated that the confidence of the public MRT system is at its all time low.
He wrote, "On the contrary, I dare say on behalf of many fellow countrymen, the frequency of incidents are at all time high and the confidence of the public MRT system is at its all time low."
Mr Andrew Goh said that Desmond Kuek should also hold responsibility. He wrote, "The more Singaporeans target at KBW to be responsible for train reliability, the less Desmond Kuek will be held accountable for SMRT performance. KBW is the Transport Minister responsible for policy-making of air, sea and land transport systems. He cannot be held accountable for operational efficiency of our MRT system.
Desmond Kuek is the person fully accountable for failures (he should face penalties for failures) and successes (he should be rewarded for successes) of our MRT trains."
Many stated that Mr Shanmugam statement is just another ownself check ownself.
Tony Neo A T wrote, "Own self check own self. Is that the best you can do, PAP? Excuses and pushing all the fault to others show that you are incapable of doing what you are doing now."
Timothy Wu Yaoxin wrote, "This is what I call ownself check ownself. Citizen has been calling the thick skin KBW to resign. Shanmugan this is none of your business, so you just shut up lah. If not you also resign."
Ms Pauline Seah stated that there must be some serious management issue. She wrote, "I am thinking why the corporate does not perform well. Like falsification of maintenance record. Apparently the staff are not supporting the management. Management must have done thing that disappointed staff. This is always the case in big corporate. It is no doubt that staff have to carry out their responsibility but the end of the day management is still overall in charge. The review of management operations and people need to be done."
Mr Danny Chin commented that SMRT should not be the operator of the new Thomson-East Coast line. He wrote, "SMRT should not be the operator for the new Thomson-East Coast line. I dun think they have the capacity to take on another route. They need to devote their resources and concentrate to sort out their current issues. The government is doing a disservice to the SMRT workers and the public by awarding SMRT the contract. SMRT already way too stretch in dealing with the current situations, how can they take on another line?? I think Minister Khaw have to admit he done wrong and have to re-tender the line and this time allows foreign players to come in and tender."
Some used the oppurtunity to ask the Government to stop attacking WP council.
Darren Hui wrote, "Why what about WP town council case. They have also put in lots of effort to collect their mistake and had a new software on the way. Can you stop keep chasing after them?"
KW Tan wrote, " When worker party made any mistake do you say the same thing too? If you are one of those victims, you sure sue SMRT until they drop their pants and underwear."
Ms Cheryl Adela stated that the public response might be different if the Government stop making excuses.
She wrote, "What could’ve made a difference in public response (instead of an outrage we are experiencing all over social media now) would be to firstly sincerely acknowledge the faults and lack-of, apologise and come up with a concrete action plan and timeline.
For a nation that has risen to “world class” standards boasting globally of our infrastructure, a problem of constant failures in public transportation causing immense inconvenience to the citizens is NOT “world class”, and nothing to be proud or confident about. Not especially after it has caused unnecessary accidents and injuries. If a sincere apology and acknowledge of faults have been issued, with humility, the public will respond accordingly. Instead of adding fuel to the already burning fire, perhaps a deeper thought into a better PR / media release would be helpful at this point."