Complaint against SMRT staff


LAST WEEK, at Toa Payoh station, my four-year-old son dashed into a train bound for Jurong, and to my horror, the door closed behind him, preventing me from boarding.


The train departed after a few seconds, leaving my son crying inside. I was aghast; there was no announcement that it was a train not to be boarded.

To make matters worse, the station employee at Toa Payoh was unsympathetic and unhelpful.

Even though I explained that my son was trapped inside the train, she ignored me and continued attending to commuters waiting at the other side of the gate.

I pleaded with her to call her colleagues at the next stop in Bishan to meet my son, but she continued to attend to other commuters.

I ran downstairs, hoping I could quickly board the next train to Bishan, but discovered that it was delayed. I ran upstairs to the control centre again and gave the officer my contact details in case my son was found.

She replied that the manager would contact me.

When I finally reached Bishan, I found my son with a woman commuter who managed to board the train and found my son crying. No MRT staff contacted me, nor was there an apology.

If a train is not meant to be boarded, why must the door open, luring unwitting commuters?

Chan Yim Khim (Ms)

Dr Mike sent me the above story. It’s a complaint against SMRT. I’ll give my own personal views on the case.

The above case I’m sure will be investigated by SMRT. There are few missing details. Whether it’s a withdrawal train to the depot or a turnaround train? Why did the complainant say that the train not meant to be boarded?

From the letter, it seems that the station staff did not give her the priority she deserved. The staff was handling a customer then. Maybe there were others still on the line. The station staff should have accorded her first priority and assured her that her missing son would be well taken care of. This complaint would have been avoided!

You will notice that the lady complainant did not feel that she or her son was at fault. Her son suddenly dashed into the awaiting train and departed leaving her behind is all due to SMRT’s fault. Not their fault. She blames everybody except herself and her son. They were just innocent paying passengers.

The complainant also felt that she was entitled to an apology from SMRT. She also felt that the duty SMRT manager ought to have contacted her but didn’t.

Now what if her son had dashed across the road instead of into the train? If the son were to be knocked down by a passing car then whose fault? The driver’s fault? The driver failed to brake on time resulting in the accident? The driver was not alert? The driver should have stopped when he saw that boy suddenly dashing across the road?

As a parent, I used to instill this road sense and safety discipline into my son’s head when he was small. Never talk, play or listen to hp when crossing the road. Always pay attention especially if he is crossing in front of a bus. My little old man would repeat after me. Ya! Ya! I know never do this or that when crossing the road and always raise up my hand cuz the bus driver can’t see me due to my height etc…

Yes also never never stand near to the edge of the platform ( before the half height platform screen doors were erected then ) in case he might accidentally fall onto the track. These are some of the things I kept drilling into him. Trust me – It pays huge intangible dividends in the long run. Remember that little Thai girl falling onto the tracks with both legs gone? Is it worth it even though she could be compensated with a million bucks?

Even now that he is 13 years old in Sec One, I still keep reminding him about safety and taking case of himself when he is outside commuting on public transport.

Back to the complainant. If I were her, I would have felt sad and inadequate about my failure or inability to control or discipline my son. One day if my own son were to turn up “bad”, the blame would be on me as a parent. My failure as a responsible parent to guide and train him on life’s obvious pitfalls and minefield.

Not that lady complainant. She saw no wrong on her part. The SMRT staff and the train driver are all at fault. That is typical of most people. We will have to deal and live with such people. Really langgar dah!

They walk amongst us.

Related article.


Official reply from SMRT …

WE EXTEND our sincere apologies to Ms Chan Yim Khim and her son for the distress caused (‘Train staff could have helped mum solve ‘lost’ son nightmare’; last Tuesday).

We have investigated the matter and are taking disciplinary action against the train officer, who should not have opened the train doors at Toa Payoh station as the train was to be withdrawn from service. We have also counselled the station staff, who should have been more proactive in assisting Ms Chan.

We thank the female passenger who was also in the train with Ms Chan’s son, for activating the emergency communication button. She had waited with the boy at the passenger service centre together with our staff until Ms Chan arrived at Bishan station.

Bernadette Low (Ms)
Senior Manager, Corporate Marketing and Communications
SMRT Corporation

“The opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect the official policies, practices or opinions of SMRT or any organisation with which I may be affiliated”.


About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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17 Responses to Complaint against SMRT staff

  1. SpeakSpokeWriteWrote says:

    My first thought was exactly like you said – how come she could allow her child to dash into the train like that. Sometimes children are just too excitable and a momentary lapse of concentration on the part of the parent, and off the child would go. Yes, there are questions to be answered – like what does it mean that the train was not “boardable”? then how come another commuter got in and escorted the boy out? nonetheless, the urgency of the case, no matter whose fault, demanded urgent attention. Still, parents are just as responsible for the child’s behaviour.

    • Yes. Agree with you that there are many questions that need to be answered. That shall be investigated. Urgent attention should also be accorded to the case by the station staff even though the parent ie the complainant should also be held responsible for the kid’s behavior. She shld not be exonerated for the child’s carelessness.

      Thks for your comment.

  2. kuaychap_kia says:

    All I can say is unreasonable people are everywhere in the world, not just in Singapore. No one will think she/he is at fault. People also like to create uproar by exaggerating; for example it’s so common for us to encounter people complaining as “we” although there is no “we” but just one person or so few that it is deceiving to give a view as if the majority or many people are involved.

    I am sure SMRT can handle such complaint from long years of experience. People who makes such complaint such search deep and look at the mirror. Don’t try to be a moral police and criticise other people when they themselves are not walking the talk. This I’m reminded of a friend who always criticised her friends who watch online movies as cheapskate and promoting piracy, yet she is walk around in style with LV bags and accessories, actually bought from Petaling Street in KL.

    • Lol. People usually don’t practice what they preach. Like what you say, they can say one thing but do another thing. We just have to accept it as part of life.

      Thks for your comment.

  3. patriot says:


    tis case as complicated as the 11 year old handcuffed in the police station as blogged by Redbean @My Singapore News(blogsite). Lots of detail nided to have a good understanding to prevent all the complex problems that seem to happen so frequently now.

    Maybe, the increase in population has contributed to much of the woes, there are much more for everybody to take care of than they are physically and mentally able to cope. Systems go haywire and most got lost as to how deal with unforeseen situation and problem.

    Sad to see a once beautiful safe paradise mired in so much man-made problems!


    • Yep. Maybe it’s due to the lack of staff that resulting in this complt. The staff was busy with another passenger and got no time to handle the complt. But then I feel priority shld be given to this case. We are trying to cope with much passengers turnover.

      Thks for your dropping by. Regards.

  4. First of all, i wondered, Why is there a DNB train at TAP in the first place? If it was DNB heading for BSD then it would just be passing the station and the doors wouldn’t open. So the train was probably for boarding…

    • We are not sure of the exact picture. Like I say there are many missing details. Let’s hope that they will investigate into the matter. We just need to look after our children just in case this sort of thing happens.
      Thks for your comment.

  5. Mike Loh says:

    Absolutely agree with your sentiments. Actually proud of the way you responded. But let’s also be fair – kids can be uncontrollable despite your best efforts. Little four-year-old dashed into the train before you could even blink, so what can you do. I bet after this incident, he won’t do that again. Experience is still the best teacher. B F Skinner’s theory is that people suffer (or learn?) from the consequences of their actions.

    • Yes Dr Mike let’s hope that the kid will learn from this episode. As parents, we need to teach our children well cuz it reflects on us if our children turn out badly. That is how I feel about the whole scenario.

      Thks Mike for your comment.

  6. Joey Foo says:

    I’ll like to add: while she expected the station manager to contact her, even after her child is found, has she ever thought of going back to inform the staff that the matter is now resolved?

    I will even go to the extent of saying that it was fortunate the staff members did not take her seriously. Imagine their panic while trying to find her son, without knowing he has already been found? That was extremely rude and disrespectful.

    • Thks Joey for the comments and reblog. Yes the complainant shld have informed the staff that her son was found. It’s a matter if courtesy. We have to be very careful of hyper active children.
      Best regards.

  7. Pingback: Re “Train staff could have helped mum solve ‘lost’ son nightmare” | CreateMeshBuilder

  8. SG Girl says:

    Parents should be responsible for their children’s safety. If their child is hyperactive, hold the hand especially in crowded places; while waiting for the traffic light, etc. Many times I see young children behaving rowdily in public places as if they’ve just been released from the prison or the”the hungry ghost gate” had just opened. Whenever I bring children of friends’ or relatives’ out, I always have two conditions: 1) do not misbehave in public including no screaming; no ‘playing monkey bar’ inside the train. 2) I will hold their hands whenever I want to; no argument.

    On the other hand, I feel that the SMRT staff should have at least contacted her staff at the other station to be at the platform looking out for the boy (usually commuters inside the train would help the boy get out at the next station). She didn’t do that and it showed she lacks the ability to prioritise. What if the boy was kidnapped? Would the staff on duty not bother to contact other station crews (to keep a look out of passengers exiting) if the frantic mother sought for help? (and assuming the police have been called).

    I like to share something I heard of (excuse my long reply here). This happened years ago and I can’t verify if it was true. A Singaporean couple brought their toddler (prob under 2 years old) to Disneyland in the U.S. The couple did not hold on to the child’s hand at all time and then he was lost. The frantic couple informed the staff. They acted immediately by stationing security officers at the exit of the theme park. Together with the couple, they screened every child that were going out. Suddenly the mother spotted one of a woman carrying a sleeping child in her arms. That child was wearing the same shoes as her son but he had blonde hair, weared a cap and he clothes were differnt from her child’s. Only the shoes looked the same. They stopped the woman anyway and a closer look, that was indeed her child. You see, when the child was snatched away, the kidnappers immediately sedated the child, dyed his hair color, put on a cap & changed his clothes; except his shoes. If not for the immediate response of the theme park staff to the couple, their child would be lost forever.

  9. Hi SG Girl,
    Thank you so much for sharing the little story here. We really appreciate it. Pls do not apologie for your long reply. We really enjoy the true story and your effort in putting it here.
    I guess we got to be careful when handling children by holding tightly to super active children. If anything happens to the child we still have to answer for it.
    Thanks again for your comment.

  10. agongkia says:

    This incident only shows one thing,that we are a society lack of care.Instead of understanding a poor mother having difficulty on her hyperactive child ,many had imagine that such commuter is the one who is at fault.Even expect her to update the staff on the outcome.
    Seems that no one will understand unless they have a autistic child.
    I cannot afford to offend any Organisation or anyone .Can only says that all unexpected event should come to one’s mind and think of the best solution in handling them,before it even happen.,especially an organisation handling member of public.One should be fair in his judgement.
    Totally fail….sigh.

    • agongkia,
      Very interesting point of view there. So it seems that you got some information about that child being “autistic!” If that being the case then we really pity the poor mother. She shld be accorded with even more care by all those concerned cuz we and the whole world owe it to her. We all shld help her take care of her child by setting all our commitments and obligations aside to accommodate the complainant and the child. Hope the organization take note of your point.
      Thks for your comment.

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