SMRT retains job for SAF Scholar COL (NS) Alvin Kek after returning from prison

It was reported in the media last month (Jun 2018) that SMRT Trains chief operations officer COL (NS) Alvin Kek Yoke Boon had been sentenced to two weeks’ jail and a fine of $4,000 for drink driving, some two months after he was arrested at Woodlands Checkpoint.

It was his second time convicted of drink driving. The first time was on March 11, 2004, when he was only fined $2,800 and disqualified from driving for two years. Furthermore, he also had several other driving-related offences, including using his mobile phone while driving in 2015 and failing to conform to a red-light signal in 1999.

Today (16 Jul), SMRT sent an internal email to inform the staff that from today onward, COL Kek would be “redesignated” as senior vice-president of rail operations, as part of the disciplinary action meted out against him. That is to say, he would still be keeping his job in SMRT despite his jail term.

SMRT noted that Kek had apologised to the management and staff of SMRT for his “lapse in judgement” at a town hall meeting held on April 23. He had also penned a letter of apology to express his remorse and took full responsibility for his personal misconduct.

The email said that Kek is known to many in the company as a “highly committed, hardworking and strong leader”, and the company acknowledges his “sincere apologies”. But SMRT also said that it takes a serious view of employees’ conduct and actions which “adversely affect SMRT’s reputation and which are against its corporate values and code of conduct”.

“This is regardless of whether such conduct and actions occur outside the workplace or otherwise. In particular, management and our leaders are expected to and must always set and lead by example,” said SMRT in the email.

Responding to media queries, SMRT vice-president for corporate communications Margaret Teo emphasized that Kek’s drink driving has “no safety impact to (train) operations”.

“Notwithstanding that this is a personal misjudgement with no safety impact to operations, Alvin has been severely disciplined and demoted by job grade with a corresponding pay cut,” she said. “His entire annual bonus will also be forfeited. He has been counseled and warned that he will be dismissed if there is any further misconduct.”

COL Kek an SAF Scholar praised by SAF

COL Kek came from the SAF. He was enlisted on 18 Dec 1985 and was awarded the SAF Local Training Award. He graduated with a Bachelor in Civil Engineering from the NUS in 1991.

In 2009, as the Deputy Assistant Chief of the General Staff (Operations Planning), he won a Public Administration Medal (Bronze) for his superior performance in his work. He was later promoted to become the Chief Engineer Officer of SAF and in 2011, he was also awarded the State Medal for his 25 years of service in the SAF.

After LG Desmond Kuek took over from Saw Phaik Hwa as SMRT chief in 2012, he brought in many former SAF men such as Lee Ling Wee, a former Air Force regular who was appointed as SMRT Trains CEO, and COL Kek who became the Director of Train Operations. But Kuek and his team seemed unable to resolve the perennial issue of train service breakdowns. Kuek would officially leave SMRT next month with yet another former Chief of Defence Force LG (NS) Neo Kian Hong taking over.

At the time when COL Kek left the SAF for SMRT, SAF paid tributes to him, “Under his (Kek’s) leadership, the Engineer Formation achieved and operationalised many new capabilities and platforms such as the Leopard 2 Armoured Vehicle-Launched Bridge and Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat, and successfully organised the National Day Parade in 2011.”

Blogger Roy Ngerng, sued by PM Lee, was not so lucky. Back in 2014, Roy was sacked by Tan Tock Seng Hospital for “conduct incompatible with the values and standards” of the hospital and for “misusing hospital computers and facilities for personal pursuits”.

The hospital issued a public statement at the time, “TTSH has terminated its contract with Mr Roy Ngerng with immediate effect because of conduct incompatible with the values and standards expected of employees, and for misusing working time, hospital computers and facilities for personal pursuits.”