desmond kuek

According to a mainstream media report yesterday, SMRT’s new CEO LG (NS) Desmond Kuek will be hiring a few more senior SAF officers to beef up his management team in the coming months.

LG (NS) Kuek himself, of course, was a career army man for many years. He joined the SAF in 1981 after completing his studies at Anglo-Chinese School and Anglo-Chinese Junior College, and was awarded an SAF Overseas Scholarship in 1982. He rose through the ranks and became the Chief of Defence Force in 2007. He was in the army for almost 30 years after leaving the SAF to become Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources in 2010.

The media reported that one Colonel Gerard Koh will be joining SMRT as director of human resources next month. Colonel Koh is currently the head of national service affairs in MINDEF.

LG (NS) Kuek will also be appointing another senior SAF officer, a logistics specialist, to the SMRT bus division. It has not only been loss-making for years, but also made the news when its PRC drivers went on strike recently.

MINDEF said it does not comment on its officers’ career moves. “We do not share such information with the press,” a spokesman said.

LG (NS) Kuek told the media in a recent interview that SMRT will undergo a major reshuffle “from top to bottom” to meet future challenges and improve service.

He said, “There are clearly managerial, structural, cultural and systemic issues that need addressing. And that is one of my top priorities.”

LG (NS) Kuek also revealed that SMRT’s focus on profit is one of the many factors why the transport operator has been facing problems.

With such a revelation from LG (NS) Kuek, it then begs the question if it still makes sense for SMRT to operate as a profit-making public listed company?

Meanwhile, it has been reported that Temasek Holdings is changing its director representation on the Board of SMRT also.