SMRT CEO Saw Phaik Hwa resigns: a lesson for Ministers?

So SMRT Corporation president and chief executive officer Saw Phaik Hwa’s hint at the prospect of her resignation over the MRT breakdowns was not a mere PR gesture. 

Coming less than a month after the unprecedented MRT breakdowns, her resignation must have raised eyebrows. It’s not the culture here to take responsibility by tendering one’s resignation particularly Ministers. 

Ministers do not take resign over policy flaws and oversight. They would rather hang on and on and on despite deep- seated public unhappiness, and eventually have to face the ignominy of rejection at the polls or widespread calls for them to step down. 

That the MRT breakdowns caused a lot of inconvenience, anxiety even panic is undeniable. Because hundreds of commuters were affected, the incidents had the appearance of high drama. 

Some have described it as an overreaction. With machines, no matter how well maintained, breakdowns are inevitable. Even air planes face episodes of engine and mechanical failure. 

Ms Saw has taken responsibility for the breakdowns by resigning. No excuses, no foot-dragging. 

In Japan, you know, they commit hara-kiri. 

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