Transport Minister Mr Lui Tuck Yew refuted former SMRT chief executive Saw Phaik Hwa's statement that the operator could not call for help from external agencies in a major rail incident, reported The Straits Times.
In Parliament yesterday, Mr Lui said that the operator could have sought external help as part of its standard operating procedure (SOP).
Mr Lui pointed out that the SOP was in place before December.
Ms Saw told The New Paper in an earlier interview that SMRT could only call the police and SCDF if there was a fatality (see "We had no power"). Opposition MP Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC) had cited this interview and asked Mr Lui if this was true.
SMRT could have called for help from the police and Singapore Civil Defence Force for the December 15 and 17 incidents, said Mr Lui.
He added that if the police had been notified earlier, they could have helped redirect traffic so that bridging bus services could have quicker access to stranded MRT passengers.
SMRT has since aligned its classification of incidents more closely with the Land Transport Authority's following the December breakdown: Level 3 (minor incident isolated to one or two stations); Level 2 (major section of whole line affected); Level 1 (national crisis, for example, terrorist attack). The LTA said external agencies can be called in even for Level 3 incidents.