Years ago when I was rostered to perform Station Sgt duty at Bedok Police Station, I was held accountable for my men’s lapses. I remember that I had to ‘stand in’ as Station Sgt even though I was just a newly minted Sgt – a post usually reserved for the most senior experienced Sgt cuz it carried quite a heavy responsibility. The others were either on course or on leave so I had to ‘stand in’ for few days in lieu of supervisory patrols.
On every shift, the Station Inspector who was in charge of the team assisted by two most experienced senior Sgts – Station Sgt and Operations Control Room Sgt.
Station Sgt was in-charged of the whole police station especially after office hours including security sentries. The police safe in the charge-office for keeping important case exhibits, accused persons in the lockup, police vehicles in the garage, armoury etc on top of handling walk-in complainants were all part of his jurisdiction.
One of the sentries – NS man was found dozing off by a senior officer who happened to clock-in early in the wee hours during my tour of duty. As the duty Station Sgt, I was held accountable. I was put on a charge of ‘Failing to supervise or lack of supervision on my subordinates’ or to that effect – couldn’t recall the exact charge -amounting to a dereliction of duty yadda yadda …
The above clearly shows the chain of command. The in-charge or in this case the supervisor is held ultimately accountable for his subordinate’s lapses or inadequacy. Can the supervisor just exonerate himself and absolve all blame in this situation? Should he join the others or the public to further condemn his subordinate’s mistake or negligence just to save his own skin?
Magnify the above scenario in our local context – it exactly mirrors our latest MRT fiasco. The two contending parties – LTA the regulator and SMRT the operator – Whose authority is higher? Which of the two agencies calls the shots? Which is the ultimate agency held accountable for that massive train disruption on last December?
LTA and SMRT engaging the most highly sought after lawyers money can buy to play the “blaming game” in an open court proceedings parading right in front of an aghast public.
After a 6-week inquiry involving more than 100 witnesses, the Committee of Inquiry (COI) released its 358-page report. 24 recommendations were made. Some of which have already been implemented. Concluding that the disruptions on Dec 15 and Dec 17 – which affected more than 200,000 commuters – were “preventable.” If its preventable, someone or some agency – whether it’s the regulator or the operator will have to account.
NUS transport expert Associate Professor Lee said “The incident was preventable but was not prevented. It is disappointing that SMRT did nothing, things that were supposed to be checked were not checked.”
From the two videos above, we need to humbly learn from the Japanese. Their problems esp that nuclear disaster is even worst than our transport woes yet they faced it stoically head on. That’s why The Japanese are a great people. Do we measure up to them?
It seems that SMRT is made a scapegoat. It’s so easy to just blame it on the obvious, isn’t it? No need to be a professor to do that. Any retard could also do just that.
He added, “And all this while, where was the LTA? They are the regulator and should know the system better than the operators – if not how do they regulate? I would question if the regulators have the corresponding technical capabilities to be able to regulate.”
This seems a fairer logical view. Fortunately he’s awaken to this vital fundamental fact of facts.
Statement from the Transport Minister will be released in parliament next week. COI did not specify clearly the different roles of SMRT and LTA during an emergency situation. It may happen again and there may be confusion again over their different roles and responsibility.
Kudos to SMRT for merely stating the facts as it is in a professional response to the COI’s report. No need to get agitated.
SMRT reiterated it “has operated a comprehensive maintenance regime in the past, regularly validated by LTA, which has served us well and placed SMRT among the top performing metro operators.”
Everybody is merry going round molly coolly for more than 23 years when all of a sudden, partly due to aging assets, worn-out depreciating equipment, over capacity stretching to breaking point etc , things turned out to be the worst nightmare, then the knives came out.
In my own view, do we need a transport regulator if it “Fails to supervise or lack of supervision on the subordinates, amounting to a dereliction of duty yada yada …” like the above given example What is the use of LTA if it is incompetent? If it had done a proper job in the first place, would those problems have surfaced? Did they exercise their supervisory role to the fullest? Who is ultimately responsible?
Instead of acknowledging its failure, they get the best lawyers to wriggle out of their ineptitude by joining the chorus of condemnation from the helpless public. It’s just too tempting and easy to “taichi” the blame away to the other party. Do you see the clear picture out of the mess? Most don’t including that eminent professor.
“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.”