MOE and SMRT face public backlash after massive train service breakdown causes students to be late for PSLE


A second consecutive train breakdown in the last two days due to new signalling system faults has upset many commuters and worse still, delayed and distressed young students on the way to take the most crucial examination of their lives at this stage: the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE).

Primary 6 students who were due to take their Mother Tongue oral examinations today were held up in trains due to faults on the North-South Line and Downtown Line. The interminable train faults caused such a long delay that one commuter who was just travelling between Yishun and Bishan (just 4 stops which would’ve taken 15-20 travel time) got on board the train at 6.30am and only alighted nearly two hours later at 8.25am.

Students were seen lining up at long queues in front of passenger service centers even after alighting, to get excuse slips explaining their tardiness from SMRT staff.

This drew the ire of netizens who questioned why students need to be waylaid yet again for a pointless excuse chit when the breakdown is all over the news:

The Ministry of Education (MOE) later responded that students need not wait to get an excuse chit and that examinations may be postponed for students delayed by the breakdown, if necessary:

“To all P6 students taking the oral exam today: If you’ve been delayed on the way to school this morning, please don’t worry. The PSLE oral exam is on schedule but arrangements will be made for those who arrive late. You need not pick up any excuse letter at the MRT station. Just let your school know. If necessary, you will be able to take the exam at a later time.”

Concerned netizens opined that more could have been done earlier to assuage the worries of distressed students. For example, MOE could have worked with LTA or SMRT to use SMRT staff to direct students to their schools instead of having them wait for an excuse letter:


  1. With all the social media and technology, it is very sad to that students need to get excuse letter when the train breakdown to prove it when they are late. What a load of ‘bull’.

  2. Communication these days is only effective when Authorities communicate with the public as far as penalties and fines go. Between themselves, all star anything goes. No checks and balances necessary in short.


  4. Here, we must queue for everything. We all kuai kuai follow instructions or the crowd to do what everyone else is doing, without using our common sense or brain, or due to kiasu or kiasi mentality. Great education system!!

  5. Not enough to waste students’ time waiting for disruptive train services. Also have to queue up to get letter to inform school of the usual train service disruption. Hey, SMRT please spend your time more productively solving the regular train service disruptions!!!

  6. Breakdown in train service as well as breakdown in communications between different ministries.
    No one to blame. …blame only the train because it doesn’t have a brain.

  7. As I said before, this is exactly the type of clinical senseless approach our civil service has grown to become. Junior civil servants are kiasu and kiasi. So the only way to protect their back is to use process and procedure to criss check the issue. So sad that in the action for the people since the independent, we loss the caring and thinking part.

  8. Those are government service organisations, they pride themselves in inefficiency. And apparently if you’re working, you’re supposed to anticipate the failure of another organisation and adjust accordingly so you can arrive at work on time to stare at the ceiling. if those take first bus/train to work how? Every day wake up 2 hours earlier just in case train breakdown somewhere also no point LOL

  9. MRT stations provide notifications stands about the delay, for those who has a camera phone or devices to shoot it as evidence and send to the school.
    Hope this will reduce the Q and time wastage.

  10. Hope those student affected by the train disruption fare will for their PSLE… already stressed to go for exam and halfway train faults and late for exam and when reach school still cannot relax and need to take exam immediately.. poor students

  11. Brainless… this is really “study so much but cannot think” example

    making students queue for letter so tt those not there cant use it as excuse, i guess? waste human resources & money on all this irrelevant stuff, they most capable.

    why not make it simple. schools send representative to mrt to lift school banner(like tourguide), then students fall in according

    • Accountability. That’s the word. SG is becoming so kiasi that u need proof to say that u r there at that time!!! U could be still in bed when that happens….They don’t trust anyone in SG!! Haiz…SG mindset has to change….

  12. do u know why SMRT will keep having all these train disruptions despite having repeatedly upgrading their systems?
    was told the central zone of Spore where the rail lines criss-crossed or run along ….. is a “paleo continental suture line” (whatever that means).

    this was predicted >30 years ago when spore wanted to build their SMRT.
    n u know what? our underground MRT will hv even more problems. if 1MDB don’t kill Najib, then the MRT problems will.

  13. Wtf!!! Dont give excuse its another signal test. The whole songsporean know there is important exam om goin. Smrt are heroes but not their million dollar bosses

  14. Transport minister should be change including the CEO of SMRT. Hope Singaporean would vote for someone else for this coming President election and not white shirt candidate… show we will used our vote to have changes.

  15. Worst things happening in this 1st to 3rd world country. Time wasting!!!! Horrible Traffic Jams! Disgusting MRT Breakdowns! Queuing up for unnecessary rubbish like the one above.

  16. I guessed the coordinating ministers were still in wonderland when the train broke down. These were very simple and should have been thought about with the high frequency of breakdown and could be been planned and coordinated in advance with the anticipation of upcoming exams. Clearly nobody bothers at all and decided to implement stupid policy of getting excuse letters and further stressing out the students.

  17. All this are the
    Smart Alac ideas
    Q up to obtain a letter from MRT for the problem
    Wat a Joke.
    Wat sort of stupid thinking is that
    Human head with Pig brain…

  18. The dumb MOE only posted their advisory on their FB after the breakdown happened. What fcuk use is that. Do MOE expect students to have mobile phone and regularly check MOE FB???

  19. I find it ridiculous that when a train breaksdown-we all have to queue up to write names to get fare redemption. Shd this not be automatic?.we have already waited long enough for transport that did not arrive. Now queue again and. Have to take down personal details plus fill in reason for redemption! Ridiculous is an understatement.

  20. That’s why the train breakdown because communication breakdown between them. The poor student so stress already, wake up early for exam and yet couldn’t reach in time for exam. Stupid. Doesn’t the 2 minister talk?

  21. Adding one more torture to the students to make them Q and wait for a letter. Wasting their time and making them more tired. So unproductive. Any better alternatives??

  22. Even if MOE says no need to Q for excuse letters, the affected students will still play safe (kiasu) in case the schools may still want to ask for it and in case their friends have such a letter, in case,in case, ????
    The only way is for SMRT to stop issuing such letters if MOE says it is not required??

  23. The folks leading the civil service are highly backward leading to a catastrophic system. These people that shamelessly collect their wages don’t deserve a penny. This country has slid into idiocy, a state of mechanistic behaviour, having lost its cutting edge ability to think. The civil service is in deep drying shit.

  24. So discupline. ❤️ it may seem these kids are wasting their time just to get that explainary letter from MRT but i am proud of them for the patience endurance in queueing up for the letter. Good Job! Hope they will do well in their papers. ❤️

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