LG Kuek recruited two more SAF COLs for SMRT before he left

It was reported in the media today (2 Aug) that 2 more SAF officers, both colonels, joined SMRT recently. COL (NS) Clifford Keong and COL (NS) Lee Yem Choo joined SMRT 3 months ago in May.

They were recruited while Lieutenant-General (NS) Desmond Kuek was still at the helm of SMRT. LG Kuek only officially left SMRT yesterday (1 Aug) and his CEO position is now taken over by yet another SAF ex-Chief of Defence Force LG (NS) Neo Kian Hong.

Under LG Kuek’s leadership, Singapore saw a marked increase of rail breakdowns and numerous incidents, such as falsification of maintenance records that resulted in an unprecedented MRT tunnel flooding, train collisions and a number of safety lapses.

The 2 newly recruited COLs have been assigned to work in HR in SMRT. COL Keong, 45, joined as head of HR for SMRT Trains while COL Lee, 49, joined as Head HR at SMRT’s Thomson-East Coast Line division.

SMRT has confirmed the new hires but would say no more.

Meanwhile, COL (NS) Gerard Koh – a former colonel who was brought along by LG Kuek in 2012 – is now the Chief Corporate Officer of SMRT. COL Koh, 48, started as director of HR just over five years ago but is now overseeing group corporate functions in information technology, procurement, human resources and training.

SMRT like a quasi-military outfit with an entrenched protocol

In any case, it was also reported last month (Jul) that SMRT has decided to retain SMRT COO COL (NS) Alvin Kek Yoke Boon after he was released from jail due to his drunk driving conviction by a state court. He was however, “re-designated” as senior vice-president of rail operations.

At the time when COL Kek left the SAF to join LG Kuek at SMRT, SAF paid tributes to him, “Under his (COL 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.”

Mr David Leong, managing director of HR firm PeopleWorldwide Consulting, commented that the SMRT’s reliance on SAF people for its key posts “will make SMRT like a quasi-military outfit with an entrenched protocol”.