SMRT CEO Desmond Quek neither confirms nor denies resignation rumours


SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek addressed rumours that he will be resigning from his post today by telling the media that such rumours are “purely speculative” in a television interview today.

Rumours that the top executive will resign erupted amid mounting public frustrations over persistent train issues in recent years. Many Singaporeans have clamored for a change in SMRT’s management after the frequency of train service breakdowns appeared to increase last year.

These calls intensified after the train collision in Joo Koon in which at least 38 individuals were injured, and the unprecedented Bishan tunnel flooding that inconvenienced countless passengers after services along the North-South line were suspended for almost an entire day.

Public outrage against the transport operator grew after investigations into the tunnel flooding revealed that a maintenance team that was supposed to carry out works in the tunnel did not do so for almost one whole year but falsified records that they did.

Last week, SMRT’s Vice President of Corporate Communications Patrick Nathan stepped down from his post – a move that led many to believe a top management shakeup at SMRT is impending.

The Straits Times itself reported last week that Kuek could be the next top executive to resign:

“The public’s call for change at SMRT has become louder since the latest spate of incidents, which included a tunnel flooding that was traced to wilful negligence of maintenance. Observers are expecting chief executive Desmond Kuek to step down as well.”

The paper also played up the role of new SMRT chairman Seah Moon Ming and reported that he will become an “active chairman” and play a more “hands-on” role.

Several sources like PeopleWorldwide Consulting’s managing director David Leong also foresee the shift of leadership away from Quek: “The shift of leadership from the CEO to the chairman is obvious.”

Quek’s latest comment, simply calling resignation rumours “speculative,” is notable since it is neither a confirmation or a denial of speculation that he will step down.

As an unrelated but interesting side note, when The Independent reported in October 2016 that Singapore Press Holdings will retrench hundreds of staff, Deputy CEO of SPH (English Publications) Patrick Daniel responded that such rumours are speculative.

One year later, the conglomerate confirmed that it is indeed cutting hundreds of jobs.


  1. What is the background of the Chairman , if it is another crony then there will be no difference. After step kwek will be posted to another govt entity to continue to enjoy his millions, just like that NOL general. Sad isn’t it?!!! Our money will be still paid to incompetent pple.

  2. SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek indicates to staff he has no plans of stepping down soon.
    Its not for you to declare what you want.
    We the tax-payers are your bosses which not satisfy with your performance.
    We order PAP and make a clear demand for fire you off the SMRT.
    Even PAP did not take our taxpayers order , We will vote out the whole batch of PAP out of Parliament too.

  3. Seriously you guys still think he do not want to resign? Come on… Except for those desperate oppies who wants this millions dollars job.. Nobody wants it. This guy can actually get a more relaxing job, but still get paid millions.. Look at Geroge yeo.. Who is laughing in the end? So KBG said he volunteered for the job.. I believe it.

  4. One issue ignored is that Patrick Nathan’s resignation till now hadn’t been confirm.

    In keeping with his security background, Nathan appears to be treating the matter of his alleged resignation like some state secret. Good self demonstration of why he had been a terrible person for his job.

    If he had resigned, the comms should be swinging towards confirming it and giving a positive spin. If he hadn’t resigned, the comms should be to categorically deny the reports. Now they just look behind the curve in both scenarios.

    If he does leave, it’s a well deserved departure.