Whilst SMRT was inundated by a sudden illegal strike by 171 PRC bus drivers on Monday 26 November, the smart alec SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek was merrily pampering himself on his vacation in the United States. How he could obtain leave hardly two months after assuming duty as CEO in SMRT is mind-boggling. If responsibility is a trait in his character, it does not seem to be evident. It was no ordinary strike and government minister and SMRT senior management staff were involved with dealing with this complex situation. Since this was a strike of great gravity, was it not incumbent upon the CEO to cut short his vacation in the US and return immediately to Singapore to assume overall control of the strike instead of leaving such an important responsibility to his senior management to handle?
And could it not have been more comical and irresponsible that this smart alec Desmond Kuek saw it fit to return to Singapore on 30 November after the tumult arising from the illegal strike had been subdued? He said that although he was on leave in the United States, he was in constant contact with his senior management during the illegal strike. His involvement was almost "in real time". He was constantly updated and made decisions collectively with his management team, he said. Could there have been a bigger joker than this man Desmond Kuek to expect discerning Singaporeans to believe his fallacious argument that his remote communication with his senior management staff to deal with the PRC bus drivers' strike is the same as being on the spot himself to direct operations as a CEO? Would it not have been the acme of irresponsibility? Mr Kuek should have his head examined for lack of sanity. He should have come out with something more genuine for Singaporeans to accept his sincerity.
Would it not be ludricrous for CEO Desmond Kuek to be concerned now with trying to retrieve the situation by visiting the workers' dormitories, bus depots and talking to the PRC bus drivers when the strike situation has been brought under control, not through his efforts? Four strikers have been charged in court, and probably one more. 29 PRC bus drivers are to be repatriated to China and they will be paid including ex gratia bonuses on a pro rated basis. The Chinese Embassy, on behalf of the Chinese Government, has been showing great concern over the proper treatment of its nationals by the Singapore Government. And Chinese netizens, who are quite a force to be reckoned with, have gone viral with their accusations of discriminatory treatment of the PRC bus drivers by the Singapore Government. Only the Chinese mainstream media has not yet shown its aggressiveness. So whether CEO Desmond Kuek is politically sensitive to the whole PRC bus drivers' problem is yet to be seen. So far his performance is anything but reassuring. He must buck up if he is to gain the confidence of discerning Singaporeans. If he had displayed the same no-show performance in a military situation when he was chief of the defence force, he would not have got away so easily
The situation in SMRT has now almost returned to normal and CEO Desmond Kuek should find it to his career interest to take prompt action to ameliorate the living and working conditions of the PRC bus drivers so that there will not be a repetition of the unhappy illegal strike.