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!
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
“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”.