Home News Brigadier-General (NS) Chan or Lt-Gen (NS) Kuek - whose will shall prevail...

Brigadier-General (NS) Chan or Lt-Gen (NS) Kuek – whose will shall prevail in sacking of SMRT staff?

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SMRT on 14 Sep sacked two employees involved in the fatal train track accident on March 22, with one of them being the driver of the train that killed Muhammad Asyraf Ahmad Buhari (24) and Nasrulhudin Najumudin (26). Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Chan Chun Sing in speaking to the media today (16 Sep) said the Union had explained to SMRT, how the situation could be best handled and would continue to “represent our workers to see how we can best manage this issue”. The workers are members of National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU), an affiliate of NTUC.

Mr Chan, who previously held the rank of Brigadier-General in the Armed Forces before he was inducted into the PAP and eventually became Minister, said that NTWU will represent the sacked staff in their representation, and that the staff have until the end of next week to lodge appeals against their dismissals.

“We’ll discuss with SMRT on the next course of action,” Mr Chan said, raising hopes that the workers may be restored to their positions.

SMRT is headed by Mr Desmond Kuek who previously held the rank of Lt-General in the Armed Forces, before he became Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, and eventually the President and Chief Executive Officer of SMRT Corporation.

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Netizens have lambasted SMRT’s decision to fire the staff. Many have voiced that they feel that the sacked staff are being scapegoated (https://theindependent.sg.sg/netizens-lambast-smrt-for-sacking-staff-involved-in-pasir-ris-accident) for the public transport operator’s lapses.

A relative of one of the victims of the fatal train track accident also expressed shock at hearing the news of the dismissals. Mr Nasrifudin Najumudin (33) eldest brother of Nasrulhudin, a civil servant said: “I can only say that we were shocked when we heard the news, we didn’t expect it. He could be the breadwinner of the family, so we are also sad for him.”

In a letter to its staff, SMRT said that the dismissals were part of its response to tighten safety and accountability throughout SMRT. It further said that its disciplinary process was fair, thorough, comprehensive and in strict accordance with its established Fact Finding framework which included the presence of Union representatives.

“As staff involved in safety breaches such as SPAD cases on our rail network have been dismissed for the safety lapse, it is untenable that the two staff dismissed on Tuesday are not treated consistently with our firm stance on safety. We did this in an all-out effort to never again repeat safety lapses.” – Lee Ling Wee, Managing Director, SMRT Trains (https://theindependent.sg.sg/whistleblower-senior-managers-performance-grades-were-also-recalibrated-downwards-smrt-stands-by-disciplinary-action).


This article had previously stated that Chan Chun Sing held the rank of Major-General before being inducted into PAP. We apologise for the error.

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