20160713 MOT Minister Khaw says non transparency can prevent undue panic

The issue of 26 defective China-made SMRT trains has been making headlines since 5 July after this was reported by investigative journalism site Factwire.

Since then, MOT, LTA and SMRT with the assistance of MSM (not stat board) have continued to issue statements as if social media did not exist: it was right to withhold information of public interest.

But one week after failing to win over the public, butterfly and bad pun lover Minister Khaw Boon Wan has now been tasked with convincing the public that black is white. (watch entertaining video here)

With PAP’s script in hand, Khaw has an uphill task to do battle with social media and convince the public that the government really had our interests at heart when it concealed information of public interest. Khaw is also well known for uttering nonsense; the more ridiculous, the better.

To make another lasting impression on idiots, the government has ensured Khaw’s authoritative statement made CNA headline. Khaw: “Going public on train cracks could have caused undue panic”. Sure or not?

Imagine if MOT had been transparent with the following disclosure months earlier:
1 Our systematic train inspections revealed hairline cracks on 26 trains.
2 They pose no safety issue currently.
3 Since they are also under warranty, we will be sending them back to the manufacturer for rectification works.
4 All costs will be borne by the manufacturer
5 There will be no disruption/delay as our spare capacity is more than sufficient to meet demand.
6 We will keep the public updated on the progress.

Would such transparency have caused undue panic? Or led to many commuters switching to a different mode of transport? So what was the real issue which prevented timely disclosure?

It appears the government had actually kept this issue under wraps to prevent public perception of SMRT, which was already at an all time low, from falling further. Not only were major disruptions affecting more lines simultaneously, 2 young SMRT employees had died as a result of SMRT safety protocols not being observed. It also didn’t help that CEO Desmond Kuek had roped in his army buddies with ZERO public transportation experience. As to be expected, these highly-paid jokers have yet to resolve chronic problems since Kuek’s incompetent predecessor resigned.

Against this backdrop, SMRT wasn’t really certain of how the public would have reacted to its disclosure and had chosen to take the risk of non disclosure. It has now dug itself a deeper grave.

Back to Khaw. If one goes by his prevent-undue-panic logic, shouldn’t the NEA keep the 22170 dengue cases 2013 a secret? Khaw should seriously consider advising NEA against keeping the public informed of the rising number of dengue cases for 4 weeks in a row as this may cause undue panic. Or project a historic 30,000 dengue cases this year. But why has there been no undue panic despite the rising number of dengue cases, including 5 deaths?

Will NEA’s transparency on dengue cases cause undue panic?

A moving system is subject to daily stress and a hairline crack will not remain one forever. If the issue wasn’t safety-critical, there would have been no need for the train manufacturer to incur millions in rectification costs, perhaps even wiping out its profit. Is the Chinese manufacturer plain stupid? Could they not have flown in a couple of their best welders with the best welding equipment and save millions in costs?

The government should come clean and stop hiding behind half truths. Perhaps the issue is considered safety-critical only after another accident has happened? Who would have panicked if MOT/LTA/SMRT had been transparent and and disseminated the information in a timely manner? Khaw?

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9 Responses to 20160713 MOT Minister Khaw says non transparency can prevent undue panic

  1. Sinkie says:

    Hairline cracks after many years of usage is normal. Even airplanes developed hairline cracks, get repaired, and then continue flying passengers. Our other MRT trains also develop hairline cracks. BUT these should only occur after many years of service & due to real wear and tear. E.g. the US-made Bt Panjang LRT trains developed hairline cracks only after 15-16 years of service. And such hairline cracks should occur in non-structural locations that can be easily repaired locally.

    In the case of those 26 trains, the hairline cracks occurred barely 1 or 2 years of service — questions are being asked whether the cracks were already there when first delivered to Singapore i.e. manufacturing defect. Secondly, the so-called hairline cracks are occurring in the under-carriage — a critical location for high-speed trains. According to PAP the repair will involve removing the entire under-carriage — PAP says this is not possible in Singapore as we don’t have the facilities. Hence need to send back to manufacturer’s location. Furthermore, it appears that manufacturing incompetence is a main factor as the repair & replacement is now being done by Kawasaki itself, rather than the original Chinese partner.

    Hence pertinent questions arise out of this fiasco:
    1. The supplier was chosen obviously becoz it quoted the lowest price. Other than the lowest price, how did LTA & SMRT ensure that the supplier’s competency, standards, quality & service are up to the mark??

    2. There were already bad press in China regarding that Chinese partner company — defective trains, problematic systems etc. Did LTA & SMRT take that into consideration when they awarded the tender to the joint consortium?? Were LTA & SMRT even aware of the poor reputation of that Chinese company in their own country?!?

    3. That Chinese company & the joint venture consortium obviously must have submitted documentation and so-called proof to ascertain their competence & standards — did LTA & SMRT simply believe them & take them at face value?? No independent 3rd-party verification?!?

    • Phillip Ang says:

      Thanks. A lot of pertinent questions but unlikely to be truthfully answered because somebody will be hanged. This is not in PAP’s interest.
      Their SOP solution is of course the propagation of propaganda and the latest to make even more ridiculous statements is none other then Mr $8 heart bypass Khaw.
      I don’t think anyone should count on anything meaningful coming out from Parliament.

  2. Suckers All says:

    There was a separate article from some internal whistle-blower from the manufacturer(appeared on Weibo) that the PRC company has submitted doctored test information to Kawasaki and LTA regarding the train carriages. This is a very serious offence which is tantamount to fraud and cheating the client. It is similar to the recent case involving VW loading software onto their diesel vehicles in order to pass the US environmental checks.

    We would like MOT/LTA to disclose on the status of the investigations regarding the above.

    • Phillip Ang says:

      Saw a link on TI. But to highlight the offence would also mean a huge loss of PAP face, ie taxpayers were cheated. Cannot be! 🙂

    • fisheyes says:

      Best of all, nothing about the cost of sending those defective train carriage back is told to the public. It is ridiculous to think that the sending back of these bulk items is done at vendor’s cost alone.

      This is what dictator and authoritarian system is all about. They decide what is best for them and for you and what is important to them and to you with their agenda and not public interest. When Dr Chee use public fund of few dollars, wow, it is all about integrity and honesty, and when Temasek Holding losing billions of stupid investment, it is all about honest mistake and up to 30 years to recoup investment bullshit, nothing about incompetency, nepotism , honesty and integrity.

  3. Pingback: MOT Minister Khaw says non transparency can prevent undue panic – Yoshi Today

  4. George says:

    Paniced the Good Class Bungalow market you mean!

  5. confused says:

    On 7 July, ST reported that the aluminum alloy bolsters supported train car body of the affected trained were found with hairlines cracks in 2013. You would also notice that they started sending the train back for repair since 2014 and not now.

    The fact that the hairline cracks on bolsters that were monitored and warranted whole train (4 or 6 cars) back to factory repair instead of on site repair said it all. I believe CSL created history for having to do so and it is surely one of its kind for such a gigantic item. I would expect with the status and size of CSR, it would easily replace the bolsters on site(in SG) without having to carry out this massive mobilisation if not for something more severe.

    As I understand, servicibility cracks of certain width is permissible on concrete surface in reinforced concrere structure simply because it is reinforced by the underlying reinforcing steel.

    I am not sure if hairline cracks are even allowed at all on metal structural components such as these aluminium bolsters as it would mean material fatigue when this happened. Anybody with some engineering background or good common sense will know that any cracks under repeated or continuous dynamic loadings (it will be made worst with overloading when it’s overcrowded) and vibration and worst excessive vibration due to uneven sleepers (there were also massive exercise to replace sleepers at night) would propagate the cracks wider and longer in no time as it is on its own and not covered and reinforced by anything else. Would it not be a safety issue and of no concern? You judge!

    Also, I suspected that CSR may offer a 1 for 1 exchange for LTA. This major repair on the main structure essentially means they have to strip the trains naked and replace the main structure and reassemble in whole including all the electrical and electronic services. This process may cost more in the labour and maybe material as well when compared to building a new one.

  6. James says:

    Absolutely agree. Singapore is one of fascism and dictatorship, no less. Decide for yourself:

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