Calls for Desmond Quek to step down intensify as SMRT sacks 8 staff over tunnel flooding incident


News that SMRT has dismissed eight staff members over their role in the Bishan tunnel flooding incident has not flown completely well with Singaporeans online.

The transport operator revealed in a media statement yesterday that 13 employees were found to be responsible for the tunnel flooding incident that occurred on 7 Oct, causing a 20-hour service disruption that inconvenienced a quarter of a million commuters.

A subsequent internal investigation shockingly revealed that a group of SMRT maintenance staff falsified paperwork that maintenance was done on a pump system at Bishan Depot when no work was carried out for almost an entire year.

Interestingly, no Committee of Inquiry was called after such an alarming revelation came to light.

SMRT has instead decided to sack one senior executive, two managers and five technical staff over the incident. These employees comprise members of the team who falsified pump maintenance records, and the superiors who were in charge of ensuring works were being carried out during that period.

The transport operator also revealed yesterday that it reserves the right to pursue legal action against a vice-president and senior manager who were supposed to have supervised works during that period.

The following comment SMRT made on pursuing legal action against vice-president Tay Tien Seng and senior manager Ivan Kok make it clear that these two individuals are former employees of the company, although the circumstances under which they left the organisation remain shrouded in mystery:

“As they are no longer with the company, SMRT reserves its right to pursue legal action against them as may be appropriate.”

Besides this, SMRT has asserted that three other management executives have been disciplined for failing to exercise due diligence in ensuring the maintenance of the pumps. It added:

“Learning from this incident, SMRT has strengthened its maintenance processes and supervisory checks. We have made critical personnel changes to the management and maintenance team.”

Netizens, however, have remained unimpressed with SMRT’s actions and have expressed concerns that the eight staff members who were dismissed are being used as scapegoats to shield the top brass of SMRT:

Did SMRT audit maintenance works? Outraged Singaporeans question how falsified paperwork was not detected for almost a year


  1. He cannot step down because he volunteered to do the job. Which job in the world has a trial/probation period that stretches for five years and counting? Who will step down and say no to a paycheck of two million plus when the Miniter himself faces the music on your behalf?

  2. He played out his staff and how can you work with a boss that don’t Honour his word. And how can you trust them esp, the CEO or the TOP management team esp he and Cow Khaw.

    • The VP that they sacked is actually a small fry …..ask SMRT staff and they can confirm that …..they done it to appease the public and save Desmond Quek Ass….

  3. Isn’t it obvious ‍♂️ only dumb idiots can’t see it. Which we have abundance of them in singapore. Perhaps they 70% themselves would be use as scapegoats by their bosses soon.

  4. I recall SMRT mentioned if staffs in questioned owned up voluntarily they will not be punished and see what happened now! Horrible where a promise is of no sincerity and value what so ever! Is it just me that misinterpreted or SMRT don’t mean what they did promised!

  5. No point again & against all this people on his behalf must very strong to lead the country. So that every government sector will show their responsibility. Even now the government Hospital service is bad they were ask you to do a lot of test. After all the test they aware of the patient condition they can’t cure the patient condition. They just push away all the problems. Very unhealthy.

    • agreed bro hospital are the worst services. like one of my friend have a few problem and they never used their brain to arrange meeting with doctor can have booking from Monday to Thursday 4 days in a week sometime even better you got appointment at 12pm went sit until 3pm than nurse say sorry it wrong date doctor not around. I really wonder the million n million of dollars they invested in so call best system and best internet system comes from where.

    • Travis Tiong yes must be aware during working hours my Low Back pain seek consultation from Tan Tock Seng Hospital. Consultation Dr Ernest Wang said my Low Back pain was only a small problem. Dr Ernest Wang said the problem was on my cervical spine c3/4(Neck) I don’t feel my cervical spine c3/4(Neck) got any problem. Dr Ernest Wang insisted said if I did not go for the surgery I could become paralysed. Dr Ernest Wang some more said surgery is to prevent my condition getting worse and worsen due to paralysed. After surgery performed by Dr Ernest Wang my condition getting worse and worsen. Badly compressed the spinal cord. Cause me permanently disability. Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Dr Ernest Wang don’t bear for any responsible. Seek help from LHL from Ang Mo Kio GRC till today got no help at all. Dr Ernest Wang is covered unsuccessful surgery insurance. Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Dr Ernest Wang should make a unsuccessful surgery insurance claim to help up the patient let the patient can continue to survived. But they not willing to help up the patient at all. Spore now become a no hope country.

  6. If the majority of Sillyporeans are bright enough you would have noticed the top brass in the government never owned up to anything if something serious occurred. They always pin the blame on the small men…..This is how pathetic Sillypore is..!

  7. no matter how much we talked about them resigning it will NEVER happen. cos this is the reality of sg dogs of the white shirts. we should & always will resist those corrupted dictatorship to make our own lives better

  8. How many more people we need to fire before the CEO is willing to step down? How many more mishaps should happen before he recognises that he is incompetent? Stop taking the juniors as scapegoat. Be brave to accept the mistakes and step down nicely. Like that you still gain the respect of people and, most importantly, your staff.

  9. Why has the CEO not been disciplined and sacked according to SMRT’s internal disciplinary framework for failing to exercise the due care and diligence expected of the CEO? Why? Why? Why?

  10. Dun understand the people who’s gunning to fire him. They will jus transfer him into another GIC or Temasek linked company and still making those millions..quietly, peacefully.

  11. What is this?
    Asked staffs to own up and fired them?

    You don’t own up or take responsibility or resign

    I do not understand why present Transport Minister said you volunteered for this CEO post and paid millions
    I have volunteered various organisation and none pay me except only one, high risk of injury or death with small allowance, around $2.60 per hour, lower than fast food restaurants and tax exempted

    Whoever want to apply job in MRT must wait for him to kick our first
    By the way, is his or Transport Minister fired the 8 staffs? Is he the real culprit or the scapegoat?

  12. If he’s stepping down, is our minister of transport also stepping down too? If not, then don’t do any unnecessary actions, becos the more things they do, the more suffering Spore commuters going to suffer…

  13. Those staff who were dismissed might not be scapegoat for the tunnel flooding problem if they didn’t carry out their maintenance duties properly. The question is that shouldn’t this paper general as CEO be held responsible for the poor performance of his staff too? What action had been taken against him? It looks like NONE because he is likely protected by the white monkeys’ NO BLAME CULTURE policy within the monkeys camp!

  14. WTF, he resorted to trickery when he gave amnesty to the affected staff and when they admitted their negligence, they get fired. Amnesty means I believed to be given a reasonable penalty not getting sacked. This could be setting a precedence, and no staff in future in other companies will admitted wrong doing. Therefore silent is golden.

  15. look at a spoil kit like that ..kana say only face black black..what if kana scolding.. anyway he used to scold his subordinates during his army time but never get scolded back before.. time to gown up old man .. u are no more in the army anymore..start to face the reality..

  16. I absolutely disagree. SMRT has a union and I am sure they know what us going on. I think this webpage has got the angle wrong. This SMRT issue is systemic : from the top when the decision to list, etc was made, when the company was managed as TLC, etc…. to the point when maintenance is degraded as non consequential to dividends, share price, which in turn attract and disincentivize the type of staff they have. You got to have organization and business experience to understand why there is thus vicious cycle of deterioration. So, the analysis and reporting are just too shallow.

  17. I absolutely disagree. SMRT has a union and I am sure they know what is going on. I think this webpage has got the angle wrong. This SMRT issue is systemic : from the top when the decision to list, etc was made, when the company was managed as TLC, etc…. to the point when maintenance is degraded as non consequential to dividends, share price, which in turn attract and disincentivize the type of staff they have. You got to have organization and business experience to understand why there is this vicious cycle of deterioration. So, the analysis and reporting are just too shallow.

  18. SMRT is a commercial entity. It is normal for the CEO to accept overall responsibility for such an event with financial implications and step down regardless of internal disciplinary action

    • Haha, you again. Without desmond quek, no one could lead SMRT? We are done for if we would really come to a total dry-out of talent. Then let him bungle on, Mr Lum. He is our only saviour, according to you. Perhaps his portrait should be hanged at every station so commuters could pray. The Great Helmsman or Great Steersman indeed no one could go without.

    • Roger Matthew Sim well everyone already has in mind what they think regarding that. Any further commenting on it doesn’t solve anything nor improve anything. It’s not like if everyone talk about this issue 100 times a day, the trains will not breakdown anymore.

      So let’s talk solutions.

      So I’m strongly suggesting/urging Low Thia Khiang to take over as SMRT CEO. He has 30 years running a town council so let’s see what can he do to turn the situation around.
      Also, politically, he will get the chance to do something for Singaporeans, something he said they were never given the chance.

    • Prem Ravi you’re the stupid brainless one. Don’t you see it’s a discussion of options and solutions!?

      Read and bloody understand peasant! Don’t comment when you have less than half a brain or shit in your head and think you have brain!

      You just jump in and bark and think you have brain. Lest be informed, the discussion is too much for you to process! Go play with your peasants folks.

  19. Generals would uphold the honour of whatever and whoever with the available resources under his command, be they the hardware or soldiers. That’s a well known fact in history…….

  20. The following comment SMRT made on pursuing legal action against vice-president Tay Tien Seng and senior manager Ivan Kok make it clear that these two individuals are former employees. This are what SMRT is looking at trying to sue ppl no longer working for them . If this is the case sacking 8 staff still not enough want to go up ladder than pls sack your dam CEO Mr Quek also cause during his time he also fail to see thing properly done by his Mgr . He should be answering to the fault also but pls don’t say under probation thing so far never heard of 5 yrs probation in my whole life don’t come up with this stupid excuse to cover up for him . If you Mr Quek still have a honour in your heart step down yourself really because you have fail in your job and there always problem in the SMRT during your appointment maybe you should go back to army and train more how to control man as a general again than sitting in a air con room as a CEO cause it just not your cup of tea. I believe you have also earn enough liao for the past 5 yrs.

  21. The top management must be cutting maintenance manpower and increase their job scope to cut cost to increase profit. Work so many and cannot finish in time, sure smrt low morale staff will take short cut to finish his work on time.

  22. If anyone really followed what Desmond has been doing since day One of his appointment then surely these comments would be unnecessary and in fact you would be applauding his work. He’s more than halfway there with regards to repairing and reinvesting what was wrong and not invested with regards to engineering work and maintenance work. The firings was done as it’s best for the company and those working below the fired engineers. Those fired were from the previous camp, you could call sabotaging agents of the past regime. Trust me, I don’t work for the SMRT, I am just a retiree that have got national interest at hand. But let’s look at the root of the issues when we are asking for Desmond’s head. We actually need him because most current SMRT staff is behind him and working hard. Let’s see how this forks out in 1.5 years time after the engineers put in place or rather replace what has been wrong. Have a good day ahead

  23. Ah ya he needs his year end bonus cause Christmas and Chinese New Year coming so that he and all the cronies can go for big lavish dinners and go on holidays. Kena Canned where got enough to support life style?

  24. I am not a fan of Desmond. But if staff do not do their work for a long time that cause the compnay to lose money and reputation, they odd to be sack. Its the same at all other organisation. I do not knw what the KPKB is all about. Sack Desmond at this stage? Whoever replace this guy has to study the problem all over again and take month before they understsand even for a imported expert. Desmond know and “created” this shit, Let him clear his own shit. Sacking him is too easy for him. You think he is going to worry that he dont have a job? This guy can leave this shit wortk and not work another day and he still live in luxury. So let him settle his shit. All those who call for him to be sack is really his supporter becuase you guys give him a reason to quit, take his money and shake his leg at a nice moutnain side resort.

  25. Why isn’t anyone asking how the work culture in a massive public infrastructure company like SMRT corroded to such a level? The extensive neglect and lack of responsibility and pride in their duties across all levels are stark manifestations of disenchantment and even deep resentment towards the leadership. It would not be unreasonable to infer possible sabotage, a covert sign of retaliation against the system. SMRT’s management cannot but must be held accountable for failing to (1) recognise dissenting undercurrents amongst the rank and file right up to senior management level (2) changing and convincing those detractors & (3) preempting the eventual collapse of the system. CEO Kuek must assume full responsibility for today’s systemic failure and step down

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