Reading reports on a media briefing given by the new SMRT CEO LG (NS) Neo Kian Hong who told reporters that there were no “deep-seated cultural issues” of human errors as characterised by his predecessor Desmond Kuek within the SMRT, I cannot help but draw parallels with certain trends of behaviour within our government which was observed by writer, Augustine Low. If you ignore questions and make only declarations, you drown any potential differences in opinions.
Neo has only been with the SMRT for approximately three months. Given that the SMRT is a large institution, I find it hard to believe that Neo would be able to assert so confidently that there are no cultural issues to contend with? Is three months enough for Neo to grasp the ins and outs of the organisation? It causes one to wonder (whether wrongly or rightly) if Neo has been brought in send out a message of confidence and control instead of carrying out a in depth review of the processes and procedures of the SMRT.
Bearing in mind the woes that SMRT has faced in recent years ranging from delays, breakdowns, deaths and malfunctions, shouldn’t Neo need more than three months to be sure that there really are no deep-seated cultural issues? An early declaration such as this could come across as foolhardy. Is it a ploy to drown out differing opinions?
Could Neo be utilising the same strategy employed by those within the upper echelons of power in Singapore as observed by Augustine Low? “The attitude is, who cares? People will stop talking if you never even start caring and responding!”
By avoiding the answering of any inconvenient questions and just repeating the same stock answer of confidence and denial, will people eventually either lose steam or believe the hype?
In my mind, three months is not enough time for Neo to have come to the conclusion that he has and the fact that he appears to have come to this conclusion so soon makes me wonder how thorough his investigations have been. At best, it is too much of a macro view and at worst, a lack of understanding for the complexities of the issue. Has Neo been brought in to do damage control or has he been brought in to bring about genuine change?
Is a change in leadership just a cosmetic change made to fob off critics or is there real commitment for revamp? Only time will tell I suppose but Neo doesn’t seem to be the type who takes his time.