By Linette Heng
or about an hour on Tuesday, Members of Parliament (MPs) peppered Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew with questions on the shortcomings of the Land Transport Authority (LTA)and SMRT.
Some questioned the profit motive of SMRT, wondering if this had resulted in a lack of focus on engineering and maintenance. Others, such as newly sworn-in MP Png Eng Huat, asked if the ministry would consider mandating that the Public Transport Operators set aside money for maintenance.
There were even questions on whether there should be a change in the top management of SMRT, and if someone with a transport background should be included.
In response, Mr Lui said: "I am less interested in heads rolling, I am more interested in heads being fixed on and to focus on the problems and issues."
Mr Lui was fielding questions in Parliament on the findings of the Committee of Inquiry (COI) into the disruption of train services last December, which affected more than 200,000 commuters.
The LTA and its role in both regulating and providing public transport was also under scrutiny.
Nominated MP Assistant Professor Eugene Tan questioned: "Who will regulate the regulators?"
Mr Lui admitted the weakness of the regulatory regime of the LTA in this incident.
He said: "It is the responsibility for the regulator (LTA) to hold the operator accountable for delivering a reliable system for the commuters. LTA fell short in this regard.
"It must do better."
Mr Lui said that the Ministry of Transport accepts the COI findings.
"SMRT's maintenance regime had shortcomings, but we too - both the Ministry of Transport, as the supervising Ministry, and LTA, as the regulator - have to shoulder our share of the responsibility.
We could have done more, and could have done better," he said.
The LTA will carry out separate investigations into the incidents. The outcomes and the penalties meted out to SMRT will be announced soon.
Mr Lui concluded: "This Government is responsible for delivering a quality public transport system for Singaporeans. We take this responsibility seriously and we will deliver."
This article was first published in The New Paper.