Yesterday(23/4/12) from 3pm to 5pm, Jurong Crew Station organized a simple farewell party for Ex-CEO SMRT Mdm Saw Phaik Hwa. She left the company on her own accord on 16/4/12.
A small piece of specially customized cake with SMRT logo, some fruit cakes and packets of drinks were served. We utilized the karaoke facilities in the crew room.
I was told by the emcee Train Officer Kumani all costs paid for by senior management of Rail Operations Branch. The company didn’t pay for it.
More than 100 staff jam packed into the small crew room. They are mainly from the Rail Operations Branch comprising Train Officers, Customer Services Officers from stations, OCC, HQ and the Circle Line.
We were surprised to see Mdm Saw come with a crutch. Obviously she hasn’t recovered from her knee operation. She was in high spirits telling us that she just came back from a holiday trip. This time round, she walked in limping. She was not carried on a sedan chair. Lesson learnt?
She was obviously delighted to see that the room was jam packed with staff in uniform. Without second thought she limped her way round with the crutch to shake every single staff’s hand and say hello!
Thereafter, she proceeded to give a short speech using the karaoke microphone. In her short speech she never forgot to remind staff about customer service. ‘Customer is always right! and customer satisfaction comes first! etc ‘ Most of the speech exhorting us to do better and bring up the name of SMRT even though she is no longer the CEO!
Mdm Saw further added that it’s her honour and privilege to work with us in SMRT for nearly 10 yrs. SMRT will always be special in her heart and she will never regret or forget about her exhilarating working experience in SMRT!
Of course, she touched on the on going COI but it’s not appropriate to mention it here. To discuss it here is tantamount to “sub judice.” The most pertinent remark she made is that she really ‘take out her hat’ to the station staff cuz customer service is never an easy job!
After her short address, a video clip chronicling her 10 year career in SMRT was beamed out on a projector. Her efforts to raise funds via the Silver Tribute and other charity causes like our adopted Geylang East Old Folks’ Home and the so many family staff day activities etc. She was particularly proud of her pet project i.e. Silver Tribute to raise funds to help those old folks.
This was followed by the first song by Train Officer Aziz ‘Tom Jones’. His rendition of Andy Williams’ ‘Speak Softly’ is most apt when dealing with demanding customers. That song was dedicated to her. TO Aziz aka Tom Jones sung it so beautifully that theme song from ‘The Godfather‘ or ‘Godmother’ in this case? Later, other staff took turns to sing for Mdm Saw whilst she was busy mingling around.
Mdm Saw is the only CEO of SMRT’s 24 year existence who managed to bring the company to dizzying height of more than $168 millions nett profits last year partly by turning all the spaces within the MRT stations into profit revenue generating shops.
SMRT share prices were hovering between 60 to 80 cents. When she took over after few years, it shot up to nearly $2 at one time. Most of the profits don’t come from fares collected from the train or bus ridership.
Let us see if her successor could do better than her. She has left a legacy in SMRT! Her footprints and unique corporate culture still linger on after she is gone. For example when Train Officer Kumbani as the emcee addressed her as Mdm Saw, she straight away rebuked him and insisted that he call her ‘Phaik Hwa’ instead! It’s so uneasy cuz we always refer her as Mdm Saw amongst ourselves! No previous CEOs behaved like her in that sense!
Imagine calling our CEO – Hi Phaik Hwa! Just like calling our frens we meet everyday. TO Kumbani must have felt so surreal addressing her just that.
Obviously Mdm Saw seems to be hugely popular with the staff. Like a celebrity, she was swarmed by all the staff wanting to catch up with her. Adulating staff giving words of encouragements like ‘take care Phaik Hwa, all the best Phaik Hwa, good luck Phaik Hwa etc’
I didn’t stay till the end cuz I got a train to catch. I was told later by TO Kumbani the senior management of Rail Operations Branch bought her a special gold plated ‘Bardic Lamp‘. It’s paid for from their own pockets. I didn’t take any picture of the actual gift as I had to leave earlier.
The Ex-CEO SMRT Mdm Saw may appear like an ‘iron lady’ in those days when she ruled SMRT but she was hopelessly on the verge of tears at that moment when the token gift was presented to her. Obviously, she was overwhelmed with mixed emotions.
The Chinese idiom, ‘All good things must come to an end!’ poignantly described such a scene. ‘天下没有不散的筵席’ (tiān xià méi yǒu bù sàn de yán xí) English translation.
On behalf of SMRT staff we wish Mdm Saw Phaik Hwa all the best in her future endeavors! May she find success and happiness along her way.
Bardic Lamp : This is a special rugged torch with coloured filters. It can be used with a white light as a torch, and with the Red, Green and Orange filters can be used for signalling to other people on the railway at night time.
“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”.
The gold plated Bardic Lamp