You would think that with the fat salary that comes with the job, it would be a cinch to hire someone with the track record and qualifications in running a transportation engineering company. Surely we are not the only country in the world with a mass transit rail system. Perhaps the directors at SMRT would care to show us who else were considered for the challenging task ahead. For all we know, maybe the selection criteria were tailored the way the specification was drawn up for foldable bikes at NParks.
When Yong Pung How's daughter was made the first CEO of IDA, even she was aware she was ill qualified for the information technology appointment. Hence her infamous repartee, "I may not know what CDMA stands for, but I can always hire someone who does." Do we really need a repeat of that fiasco at SMRT? What we need is someone like interim CEO Tan Ek Kia (Bachelor of Science (Mechanical Engineering)), a seasoned professional with more than 30 years of experience in design, engineering and construction, project management, as well as being a Chartered Engineer with the UK Engineering Council and a Fellow of the Institute of Engineers, Malaysia.
SMRT's net profit for the latest financial year shrunk by 25.6 percent to $119.9 million. The fourth quarter net profit ended March 31 dropped 59 percent to $13.9 million from the previous year. Perhaps this could be the real justification to bring onboard another compliant pen pusher. Once again, profits and shareholder dividends take precedence over engineering concerns.
Phaik Saw Hwa must be regretting her hasty decision to resign, a well compensated seat which paid $1.85 million in 2010. After all, she was never fingered for the failures at the tracks, specifically the double whammy train breakdowns in mid-December. If there's one thing she does well, it's making money for the board. At the sacrifice of maintenance budgets and pesky details like falling third rails. Like she used to say, the people can always take the next train.