Train breakdown calls for two committees of inquiry, not one

I think there should be two committees of inquiry rather than one. The question of technical lapses that led to the massive train breakdowns last Thursday and Saturday are completely separate from that of crisis management. Committees of inquiry, while usually led by a judge, need to have enough experts in the necessary fields to be effective. If we try to give a single committee a double-headed mandate, it would mean having  fewer technical experts on it in order to accommodate crisis management experts. Either that, or make the committee unwieldingly large.

The last few days have revealed that there are indeed huge questions to look into. Visual checks conducted on Sunday on the entire lengths of the North-South and East-West lines found 21 missing ‘claws’ — hook-like pieces that hold the power rail in place. Where they were missing, the power rail seemed to have sagged. The Straits Times had a graphic (click for bigger version):

Thirteen trains were also found with damage, presumably on their “collector shoes”, which are the parts that make contact with the power rail in order to draw electricity to drive the train.

There is suspicion that the defects were in some way related to “floating slabs”, which Transport minister Lui Tuck Yew said was last examined ten years ago and found to be in good condition.

This statement was jumped at by several people on Facebook, comparing it to how other metro operators make weekly visual checks of all their tracks. Why does SMRT Corp, the operator of the North-South, East-West and Circle Lines not do the same? I believe there is a misunderstanding here. Checking the floating slab is not the same as checking the tracks. Apparently, one has to drill underneath the tracks in order to examine the floating slabs, and even so, one might only be able to do this on a sampling basis.

The technical issues may well turn out to be easier to investigate than the crisis management issues.

Anecdotal reports were that the six-hour breakdown on Thursday and seven-hour disruption on Saturday were very badly handled. Even the scheduled shutdown on Sunday morning, to enable a visual inspection of all tracks, turned out to be messy. Shuttle buses intended to ferry passengers from station to station did not know their routes and got lost. At the start of the day, there were reports that the buses did not arrive till more than an hour later. One man wrote to say that he rode the Circle Line to Paya Lebar Station on Sunday, expecting to change to the East-West Line for an onward journey to Changi, only to discover, only upon arrival at Paya Lebar that the East-West Line was not running. There was apparently no information en-route on the Circle Line as to what was happening at other parts of the rail system.

The above suggests that whatever back-up plans SMRT had, they were less than adequate. When a bus driver reports that all he was told was to follow the viaduct to get to the next station — a suggestion that was useless when parts of the track ran underground — we know that route maps for shuttle buses were either not prepared or not available. Information dissemination to commuters was just as bad, as the experience of the guy going to Changi would attest.

If a scheduled shutdown like Sunday morning’s produced such confusion, one can imagine the chaos of Thursday’s and Saturday’s unscheduled breakdowns.

There’s more than enough work for a separate Commission of Inquiry looking into crisis management and back-up plans.

* * * * *

On Thursday night, I myself only heard announcements made in pidgin English over the public announcement system while on the platforms, but not while inside the train. As I wrote previously, I couldn’t quite understand what the announcer was saying, and I don’t believe others did either. Over the weekend, people have suggested announcements in the four official languages. Frankly, if the station master couldn’t even manage an intelligible announcement in English we can forget about getting it in other languages.

In the trains during the breakdown, people used the intercom to communicate with the drivers. The drivers themselves almost surely knew next to nothing about what was going on. They would be trained to wait for instructions from above and all they could do was to pass to whichever passengers were buzzing them on the intercom the same meaningless drivel that they themselves were getting.

Yet, it’s not as if there aren’t better ways of getting information out to commuters. Look at this picture I took on Monday:

Our trains are equipped with several devices than can be used for communication. A proper information dissemmination system would use all these devices, in addition to twitter and overhead speakers. Devices A and B would allow information to be sent out centrally; that way, they can be up-to-date, comprehensive and in several languages. Device B could even feature photos, for example showing passengers on a train what a back-up shuttle bus looks like, or a map where to find them, BEFORE passengers reach a station. It could also display information about other bus services available at the station the train was going to to be stuck at. Doing all this will lessen the confusion at stations.

I wonder though whether devices A and B are capable of being centrally reprogrammed at short notice. In fact I wonder if device B is really meant for advertising only.

These would be the kinds of questions we should ask. What tools were at out disposal to better manage a crisis situation? Why weren’t they used? Why did nobody plan ahead, imagining various scenarios?

33 Responses to “Train breakdown calls for two committees of inquiry, not one”


  1. 1 Poker Player 20 December 2011 at 12:33

    For all this to make sense, the claws have to have all fallen off on the same day.

    Otherwise, we have to conclude that either they are not checked when the rails are checked or missing claws are not considered serious.

  2. 2 Poker Player 20 December 2011 at 12:52

    “Device B” was considered a higher priority than the protective barriers at above-ground MRT stations. Makes you think about what sort of people run SMRT and LTA.

  3. 3 Overseas reaction 20 December 2011 at 13:45

    Is it too much to ask the Straits Times to run fair comments in its forum page? Today’s defense of SMRT’s errors and lapses as “forgivable” rankled me. Well, I lived many years abroad too and I would argue that the writer from Spain overstated the calmness of the commuting public overseas. Besides, the writer was not in a dark and stuffy train packed with sardines. People with illnesses could have collapsed and died. The matter should be treated with utmost seriousness it deserves, not least because SMRT’s handling of it was most appalling.

    Train the drivers for crisis management and crowd control. Send them for elocution courses or media training. Its true the drivers seemed clueless too as to what was happening. It also upset me to hear this woman with Hong Kong accent shouting down the driver while Singaporeans stood by and let her rant (video on youtube). PM Lee, do you see what you’ve done? These tensions, if not managed carefully, can easily boil over. On the other hand, I applaud Singaporeans for showing restraint even though guests to this country showed no manners. It is normal to demand information from the driver and be angry, but the woman was utterly overbearing and rude.

    • 4 Calling overseas singaporeans 21 December 2011 at 10:19

      Today’s forum ran more curry favour letters, praising SAF generals. No need to do anything, get praise already. Sounds like army guy who wrote in. The worst letter was from this foreigner telling Singaporeans we lack awareness of what it is like in other countries. Maybe we should dial for our diaspora abroad to write more informed letters than this ignorant writer telling us we are too critical of our government. What does he/she know?

      [The ‘forum’ this writer refers to is the Straits Times letters page — Yawning Bread]

      • 5 Shangri-la 22 December 2011 at 11:46

        I am a Singaporean abroad who lived in DC and I used both the metro in DC and New York. I avoided the crumbling subway in New York and took cabs wherever possible or walked. It is hard to live in America if one does not drive or own a car. In DC, I nearly broke a toe while trying to push a grocery cart up its super steep escalator. The elevator is not always easy to find in stations one is not familiar with. There are all kinds of breakdowns, elevators included, and in the winter, it is not pleasant to be stuck underground or experience delays which can be frequent. (What they do have going for them is service. The staff are trained to update commuters with information and I’ve never failed to get help when I needed it, be it from station staff or strangers).

        Our government did a great job connecting Singapore, a teeny little island and the MRT is our pride and joy. The tracks reach virtually every neighbourhood and this is not to be sniffed at. Jakarta, a sprawling metropolis, does not even have a metro.

        It may seem like an over-reaction for people in a teeny island to kick up a fuss when the island can be fully explored in a coupla days or slightly more by bus.

        And yet, having watched the videos online, it looked Hollywood life-death drama. People would not have overreacted if they had information or inkling of what was going on. That was all was needed. Seems to me to be a leadership crisis. What happened to all the NS men in the trains? Shouldn’t they have been trained to take some initiative? Only one of them – I could be wrong – acted and he was the guy who broke the door. Do our schools teach initiative? Can it be taught? What about civic-mindedness? I was taught these in ECAs back then.

        In short, we’ve been told our system is unique. To quote Khaw, perhaps Singapore is not a shangri-la on earth. If so, level with Singaporeans. That’s all we ask.

  4. 6 Chanel 20 December 2011 at 15:20

    Judging from the location of device B, you can bet your last dollar that it is meant solely for advertisement. The CEO obviously focused too much on the retail aspect of SMRT neglecting all the other critical aspects of running a public transport company

  5. 7 reservist_cpl 20 December 2011 at 15:27

    Why can’t there be some pre-recorded announcements made?

  6. 8 Steve Wu 20 December 2011 at 16:57

    Hi Alex,

    Just a minor point. Singapore’s statutes distinguish between a committee of inquiry and a commission of inquiry. A committee of inquiry may be convened by the minister (or the prime minister). A commission of inquiry may only be convened by the president.

    The forthcoming public inquiry shall be a committee of inquiry. However, given what we know about the lapses in (track) maintenance and risk to public safety, it behooves us to demand LTA to account for its failure as the regulator on this count as well.

    I agree that the deplorable crisis management at SMRT, the dangers of which are not less than those of the infrastructure/maintenance issues. The agencies like SCDF/ISD/MHA, with the oversight responsibility (cf. security breaches at train depots) has yielded questionable results. One wonders why, after the many drills and much tax dollars spent, the crisis management has not been institutionalized at SMRT. What about other organizations like our bus network, seaport, airport and others?

    Indeed, a commission of inquiry may well be in order where the responsible agencies like LTA/MOT, SCDF/ISD/MHA are respondents to the inquiry.

  7. 10 Chris Hansen 20 December 2011 at 17:10

    Communications on public transport are key to customer satisfaction, especially when events overtake the regular operation of the system. Unfortunately, there is no public transport system that has communications exactly right.

    The important points are these:

    1) Ensure that those reporting from the area of the problem can communicate exactly what the problem is to the controllers as soon as possible.
    2) When this is known, communicate with passengers giving everything that is known and keep the passengers up to date as more information comes in.
    3) Do not say things that may be untrue, such as “Trains will be moving shortly” if that is not certain.
    4) Have emergency plans in place before the problem arises, and test these plans regularly through exercises.
    5) When there is an emergency or problem, do a “root cause analysis” afterwards, including problems with communications, and modify plans if necessary.

    I was appalled that announcements were made in unintelligible English in the MRT. This is unacceptable. People who are responsible for making announcements must be fluent in the language. If there were a life-and-death safety issue, the clarity and intelligibility of announcements could make the difference between saving lives and losing them. If this means remedial language lessons for staff, then provide them.

    I was also surprised that so many claws were missing from the 3rd rails. I presume they have been replaced by now.

    As nearly everyone uses public transport in Singapore, safety is important for everyone, and Singaporeans require the highest standards of their transport systems. I trust that Singaporeans will hold those responsible to account, and that safety standards and inspection routines will be upgraded to levels of good practice.

  8. 11 Vote for Change 20 December 2011 at 22:03

    Actually we should delve deeper than the two inquiries. The underlying problem is the privatization of services meant for public. On the one hand, we have corporate entities like the SMRT which will always look at the bottomline. So they will just provide the bare minimum level of service. Any further is a cost to them. On the other hand, we have the public who needs these essential services such as transport and housing at a minimum cost. There is no way to reconcile the two groups. The PAP government created such a situation for the people. These basic services are supposed to be managed by the government, but are privatized. The PAP government has gotten its fundamentals all wrong.

  9. 12 georgia tong 20 December 2011 at 22:14

    The use of cable ties are temporary fixes. If the claws fall off due to vibration, then there is design issue here. Cable ties deteriorate with heat and they can snap. It can be only hope they don’t get complacent again thinking the cable ties will hold the claws in place.

  10. 13 K Das 20 December 2011 at 23:14

    To me it looks like the top people responsible for system maintenance have been sleeping on the job. Luckily something worse did not happen like a serious mishap in which few commuters could have been killed. In such situation the top men responsible for maintenance could be charged for their negligence that caused the deaths.

    Even simpler things like fire extinguishers and lifts have a maintenance schedules for these to be inspected regularly within certain time spans and what more for mass transits like MRT. There was no robust maintenance regime put in place. If there was one, instances of missing claws and sagging rails would have been detected early during routine inspections. In the absence, the defects piled up and the system cracked resulting in the trains being immobilized repeatedly and for extended hours.

    Why wasn’t there power reserve mechanism installed in the trains to enable the trains to pull out from a tunnel in the event of total power failure. Even our lifts are equipped with such mechanism which automatically brings the lift down to the next floor landing level for people in the lift to get out.

    These are serious issues and the people concerned should be taken to task.

  11. 14 Leuk75 20 December 2011 at 23:14

    The crisis management should take priority over the technical / quality assurance non compliance. The latter is easily rectified. The former unfortunately will involve more coordination, more open communications and less top down dictation as opposed to consultative model. Needless to say, this approach is less intuitive.

    Notice how Hossan Leong was reprimanded for quickly reporting on the fault while on another train line. And how the unknown person who smashed the window in the stuffy train where at least one person fainted from the lack of ventilation was being chided. Clearly, whoever is in charge in LTA / SMRT didn’t lke being forestalled and do not appear very receptive to suggestions from the public (Read: Big Bro knows best!!)

    One caveat: with higher maintenance costs to build in quality checks and also increased redundancy for crisis and communications plannning, guess what goes up. It won’t be our salaries for sure. Still, it is a price to pay for safety and reassurance. Take it as additional insurance.

    • 15 NO TO HIGHER FARES 21 December 2011 at 12:05

      Eh, why you just accept price increases even before they announce it? Stop this servile attitude to authority. They should be sued, commuters compensated, not the other way around of commuters accepting fare hikes (“premiums” as the snobs at SMRT call it) even before they announce it. don’t give them ideas lah

      funny how there’s so little coverage of taxi fare hikes which they quietly increased during holiday period hoping people wont notice. its outrageous!

      • 16 Fare cheater 21 December 2011 at 22:12

        Didnt u also know that the newly replaced MRT fare gates has the fare amount displayed so invisible (with small font) that after numerous times, I still cannot see the display of the fare deducted bcos it flashes so fast after an exit tap. The old ones has a small/one-line display where the fare deduction is clearly seen. The new gates have display panels with a big “GO” and the fare amount is nowhere to be seen – must be to prevent commuters from knowing the fare amount so that any increase in fares is not obvious to commuters. True? SMRT is out to all tactics to keep commuters in the dark of fares & fare increases.

      • 17 Leuk75 22 December 2011 at 00:03

        Its with reference to current context. If the current privatised system for public transport and ministers with salaries higher than Obama continue PLUS accountability to shareholders continue, you can bet your last dollar that any additional costs incurred from QC checks and technical improvement will be transferred to us. Lets be realistic.

        Sure, nobody wants the fare hike but I will gladly pay if I get the guarantee we all get a safer ride. The only way to maintain quality and yet keep costs down is if the whole system of privatised shareholder accountability fiasco is canned. That is just plain wrong when we are talking about public transport.

    • 18 Hsien Liao La 21 December 2011 at 12:59

      “A price to pay”? To pay to whom? What will our monies end up as?

      Answer: DIVIDENDS to shareholders! But why are we paying for a public transport company to be profitable so as to benefit the relatively few investors?

      Saw has no answers to the problems she created: together with Lui and the former transport millister Raymud Lim, all should apologize to Singaporeans for their shameless greed!

  12. 19 KC 21 December 2011 at 00:48

    I cannot understand why a basic infrastructure like public transport is a privatized business. If retail rental income proved such success in bringing the money then public transport could have easily been funded by that profit/revenue and citizens could pay a token fee for transportation. But no, there are shareholders isn’t it? For a company that makes so much profit, it couldn’t attract local bus captains but uses Chinese nationals who doesn’t even know that the route he drives goes to Chinatown when asked by tourists is utterly shameful and spells trouble in capital T.

  13. 20 sh 21 December 2011 at 04:25

    To add to what georgia started – I used cable ties for a long time(since 20+ years ago when you only can get them at certain hardware shops). The original ones from RS or Farnell are of stronger material and ties stronger. The cheapo ones that sprung up from recent years are of lower quality and not so strong.

    I personally pulled too hard and it broke off while tying one.

  14. 21 Dee 21 December 2011 at 04:41

    Perhaps they should just fix something at the bottom of the rails… After all, we are all bound by gravity, anything suspended and overused will wear down overtime. If there is something at the bottom to cushion the rails, the rails won’t sag:-/ Somehow the claws look inadequate to me. Or maybe it’s just the drawings.

  15. 22 Hsien Liao La 21 December 2011 at 06:27

    Excellent questions, Alex. However, my guess is that SMRT CEO Saw P. H. will NEVER answer these questions publicly. As someone commented in your other recent post on this issue, that CEO is only concerned with profit-maximization, which translates into squeezing as much money out of customers as possible. I would be surprised if the CEO knows enough shame to take your questions head-on. Everything in her mind is just money, money and more money!

  16. 23 Desmond Lim 21 December 2011 at 08:16

    “This statement was jumped at by several people on Facebook, comparing it to how other metro operators make weekly visual checks of all their tracks. Why does SMRT Corp, the operator of the North-South, East-West and Circle Lines not do the same? I believe there is a misunderstanding here. Checking the floating slab is not the same as checking the tracks. Apparently, one has to drill underneath the tracks in order to examine the floating slabs, and even so, one might only be able to do this on a sampling basis.”

    Alex, I think the people are talking about the claws. I doubt that so many of the fell off in just 1 day. They can be seen with a visual inspection (which they did on Sunday) if there are signs of it having problems.

  17. 24 funhousediary 21 December 2011 at 09:05

    Sad to say, things do break down, even in efficient Singapore. The problem, as far as I can tell, is the lack of information and a concrete contingency plan to get customers off the train and to their destinations.
    I lived in Singapore for 13 years, but I now live in London. I take the Underground (tube) daily and delays, breakdowns and line closures are quite common. It’s annoying as hell and very unpleasant when you’re stuck in a train. But I think the difference between the tube and SMRT is that when something does happen, the priority of the tube staff and management would be to get passengers off the trains and platforms and onto their destinations. All staff are drilled on what to do when there’s a delay and/or breakdown somewhere. MRT staff seemed clueless (from what I’ve read).
    Tube tickets would be valid on buses, trams and the rail network. There would be plenty of staff around to answer queries and to give directions.
    There will also be announcements on all trains and connections, advising passengers of the delay/closure and alternate routes. Maybe it’s happened so often that they’ve got it down to a fine art. Perhaps that’s part of the problem as well.
    The MRT has been running like clockwork for the better part of 24 years. Staff and management get complacent. Perhaps this is a wakeup call for them to get their act together and have better contingency plans, train their staff better, perhaps empower them to make decisions in situations like these without the fear of repercussions.
    One only has to look at the difference in focus between the respective websites of the SMRT and the Transport for London. One is focused on informing customers on travel. I’m not quite sure what the focus of the other is to be honest. For an operator of an essential public service, it can’t be right.

  18. 25 CCB 21 December 2011 at 10:34

    What you are witnessing is the inevitable outcome of crony capitalism (management) combined with flawed population/labour policies (technical).

    In other words:
    Incompetent, overpaid people who have no business running a national rail transport system.
    +
    Overloaded train carriages that constantly exceed their recommended maximum capacity, and maintained by underpaid, incompetent foreign workers.

    = A ticking time bomb.

    This is the same template of conditions found not just in public transport, but also in air travel, in healthcare, in shipping, in public housing, in flood management etc.

    There are many ticking bombs and the first one that blew up was public transport. Subsequent bombs may yet claim lives.

    Brace yourselves.

  19. 26 The 21 December 2011 at 12:10

    /// KC 21 December 2011 at 00:48

    I cannot understand why a basic infrastructure like public transport is a privatized business. If retail rental income proved such success in bringing the money then public transport could have easily been funded by that profit/revenue and citizens could pay a token fee for transportation. ///

    KC – spot on. Indeed, someone has suggested this in early 2007:

    http://www.pap.org.sg/articleview.php?folder=PT&id=1547

  20. 27 sh 21 December 2011 at 12:29

    There are two ways to solve –
    [1] Brainstorm suspected areas and put solutions, then hope one of them solve it.
    [2] Catch the real root problem. This is better option.

    Two incidents in short space of time is also hint … sabotage? Just like that crazy nut gone to car-scratching rampage? When they started using these ties(or these types of ties) ? Anything maintenance process that is out-of-norm in recent time. Should be able to check the records.

    p.s. Many apologies if I didn’t get my pointers right …

  21. 28 anon 21 December 2011 at 16:10

    The commuters is interested in reliable, safe, quick, efficient and relatively comfortable travel from point A to point B.

    The transport company (and its management and majority shareholders) want to milk the cash cow for all it is worth.

    It is easy to see which party has deviated from the fundamental reasons for a mass transport system.

    While it is not wrong to exploit incidental opportunities (retailing, or rather revenue from rental, in this case) presented to the company by its role, it is wholly unacceptable to become so pre-occupied with it as to lose its fundamental focus and responsibility. There is a clear manifestation that this has indeed come to pass with the SMRT. The revenue statistics say it all: over 40% of its revenue came from retail or more precisely, rental of retail spaces, on its premises. If nothing happens, no rail cock up as at present, it may well become a higher earner than its core business of providing mass transport service for the country.

    Perhaps, one way to de-emphasize or discourage such runaway and misguided development is to make a rule that at least 80% of such ‘indirect’ profits should be channelled back to providing better service in its core business in the form of:

    1. fare rebates/discounts for commuters

    2. better rolling stocks/equipment

    3. better in station facilities for commuters, esp. for the aged, handicapped and pregnant women and infirm/sick travellers

    4. free feeder bus service to public institutions like hospital and clinics, shopping malls, nearby train stations of another line.

  22. 29 Paul 21 December 2011 at 19:47

    I celebrate the breakdown! These are just the growing pains of a society entering a phase of normalization after an abnormally extended period of control-freakery. The poster who wrote on the London Tube is correct – the staff there have responses to breakdowns down to a fine art because parts of the system are over 100 years old; but the ‘ecology’ of the Tube – track, rolling stock, staff, passengers, technologies, policies – is also indicative of the bigger social picture: maddeningly dysfunctional sometimes, but also healthily, humanly rough around the edges. Saw is the unwitting harbinger of democracy – there is light at the end of the tunnel!

    • 30 Saw the light 22 December 2011 at 09:42

      To take this argument to its logical conclusion, democracy equals breakdown which is what’s happening in the gridlocked west. What’s so great about democracy compared with clockwork control-freakery? We got to our destination on time in uncrowded trains once upon a time. If Saw with the tunnel-vision is the unwitting harbinger of democracy, why is she still holed up in there? There will be light when she emerges from it with a white flag. Then we celebrate!

      What’s with Hsien Loong’s fascination with women like Saw? Has anyone noticed he’s surrounded by them? Ho Ching, Cynthia Phua, Saw, etc.

  23. 31 angrybird.sg 21 December 2011 at 22:40

    Only pap balls lickers or paid ghost writers and Cleopatra Saw and her gang will say that SMRT still compares well to outer rail operators. Stop making my toe laugh!!!

  24. 32 wikigam 22 December 2011 at 02:05

    Singapore govt have to take back to manage (cost etc) Public transportant for another 30 years before hand ove back to private sector.

  25. 33 Rabbit 22 December 2011 at 02:32

    Now that the lapses of SMRT has come to bare, it will save potential terrorist the effort to study our SOP weaknesses. As such, future precautionary measures must be set extremely higher than the current one; otherwise the consequence is certain disaster.

    Talking about SMRT crisis management faced last week was a damned thing in Singapore. Thanks to all the redevelopment and transport constraint created in every way possible that trying to escape is like walking through a crowded maze with no practical alternative routes. Roads were sardine packed, communication broke down, and people wished they have helicopters to come to their rescue. It is not too far fetched to think “helicopter” is probably the best transport mode in serious crisis if those well fed SMRT management team don’t buck up to improve the whole operational system without trying to cut costs. The entire emergency “motions” staged to glorify the ministers in the past need an in-depth re-look too, because it has failed to handle last week train disruptions..

    Singaporeans have had enough of ministers’ rhetoric’s about us shouldn’t take safety for granted and yada yada in their entire terms. At this point, I shrug to think SMRT is ready as follows? In fact, isolating SMRT’s saga is giving too much credit to the ruling party.

    If terrorists hijack the trains (at all strategic stations), mobilization of NS men may become another challenge as not many people own a car (thanks to COE) and have to rely on train services to commute to their respective logistic centers. Ambulances were blocked by heavy bus traffic as people scrambled to get out of the stations, or thereafter unable to rush casualties to hospital on time. Than, hospital beds were insufficient (no thanks to PAP reckless immigration policies) with heavy casualties. Mobilized bus captains (especially those foreign trained) were not familiar with last minute unplanned routes and lost somewhere in the island while trying to reach fatal sites to ferry people out. Taxi drivers, clueless of the crisis, were hidden somewhere waiting for peak hour or until they see standard “bussiness opportunity” template appear on their screen. Rowdy passengers fought for limited space and let’s hope they behaved themselves and not hammer any MRT staffs who were understaffed. Foreigners could not speak local dialects with aunties/uncles stranded in madness and needed some help to translate words on the screens….gosh.

    When all these came into play, there was no pre-written emergency information available within the station except blood-stained advertisements everywhere that brought profits to the organizations in the normal days. The screen arrowed “B” above stared blankly into the air because there was no advertiser taker.

    What could be more worse if terrorist bombed the carriage with numerous casualties and some bombs still left precariously along the track. Ventilation was depleting fast before rescue arrive, it has only 45 minutes oxygen (probably to cut cost) and thereafter stranded passengers were left to their own devices and forbid to break any window or risked being charged by SMRT if they managed to survive unscathed.

    While gasping for air in a stuffy carriage, the SALES STATEMENT made by SMRT CEO still lingers in their helpless mind ““People can board the train; it is whether they choose to”.Adding insult to passenger’s injury, SMRT’s senior vice-president, Goh Chee Kong, was rather resigned after being pressed by saying the train was very crowded, so some people may have felt there was no ventilation.

    Unfortunately, instead of telling like it is, MSM was keen in damage control and allow some forum writers to save SMRT CEO’s face for her past effort. If you have 4000 casualties, do you still allow such letters to be published? A mistake is a mistake; let’s not try to cover it for goodness sake. Human life is not a toy, killing one is too many and nobody should feel proud or praise anybody who caused casualty directly or indirectly.

    As part of an emergency plan, truth must be told by tweeters, sms or other speedy mode to get everyone prepared and out of danger zone in shortest time possible. We can’t call ourselves an IT HUB and not using IT in time of needs such as last week crisis. There were rumors going around that Hossen Leong was being chided by the govt-linked dept, for his quick witted respond over radio to warn of train breakdown. Trying to cut him off was very unfortunate & unnecessary. Where is SMRT preparedness, can the CEO confidently say she is READY to handle the above worse crisis if it happens?

    A day before our train broke down, Steve Wozniak. Co-founder of Apple, have this to say about Singapore society and it rings familiarity above.
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/12/14/woz_creative_workers/print.html

    Nevertheless, no matter how unsafe I feel about taking MRT now, nobody head will roll because SMRT philosophy is linked to the ruling party motto: Grow at all cost; some pain is necessary until some death occurs. In the meantime, let’s join the msm to glorify more undeserving people with linkage to their master who rather pay more attention to the cloudy economy which affect their GDP-linked salary. The steady hand president is not supposed to say a word for now until he is told to do so or not at all. I am sure the fruit trees in Istana look more palatable for another book?


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