Passengers involved in Joo Koon MRT collision asked to sign non-disclosure contract before medical fees can be reimbursed

Below is a letter written by one of the commuters involved in the collision at Joo Koon MRT station on 15 Nov 2017, which describes his experience of claiming reimbursement from SMRT

Firstly, I am not writing this to shame SMRT. And overall, I got a resolution. But it certainly could have gone a lot better though.

I was one of the passengers of the front cabin of the train in the Joo Koon MRT collision on November 15th 2017. During that incident, I fell on my backside. I walked out of the station, feeling lucky that I only got a bump on my backside, without any other injury. However, later that afternoon, my left arm felt completely devoid of strength, and my left ankle started to hurt. The following day, I went to see a clinic doctor. I then proceeded to emailed the smrt staff with my medical bills for claims.

It took them one and a half months for them to contact me again. The SMRT staff told me the claim is approved. However, they will need me to sign a “discharge voucher” before the amount of $31.70 can be reinbursed.

A few days later, they mailed the “discharge voucher” to me. When I read the “discharge voucher”, I got a rude shock. They mailed me a bloody contract and expected me to sign it.

This contract demanded 3 terms:
1) The payment is final, no further amounts can be claimed.
2) No further responsibility can be held on the SMRT.
3) Terms of the agreement are to be kept entirely confidential.

Angrily, I told the staff, there was no way in hell that I would sign such a contract. I told them in no uncertain terms, that even if I was agreeable to the first 2 conditions, there was no way that I would sign away my rights to disclosure.

This whole back-and-forth went on for more than 1 week, with the staff transferring the case to her manager, whom I have had to explain all over, that I will under no circumstances surrender my rights to disclose anything that I want to disclose. The manager explained to me that this was simply their company policy, and every claimant had to go through the same things. I told her promptly, her company policies are none of my concern, and they are the ones who caused the problem in the first place. The compensation should have been UNCONDITIONAL.

Finally at the end, I told her to stop making me repeat myself. Under no circumstances would I sign a something that would allow SMRT to use against me. I will not sign away my rights to full disclosure, end of discussion. I told her, if SMRT refuses to pay the reimbursement, that’s fine. I was already prepared to either: a) I forfeit the compensation, b) I go to the small claims tribunal.

Finally, the SMRT manager relented. She said she would reimburse the amount into my EZ-Link card, WITHOUT HAVING TO SIGN ANY CONTRACT. I said, okay then.

A week after that, 15th January 2018, exactly 2 months after the incident, the amount of SGD $31.70 was approved and ready for collection.

Well, yes, not the most pleasant experience. But at least a resolution was met without having to conform to SMRT’s strict procedures. If they chose to, they could have done this better, without having to demand claimants follow their terms unilaterally.