Monday 20 November 2017

Japan is trolling us: Rail company apologises for train leaving station 20 seconds early; meanwhile in Singapore...

Dear Japan,

Stop trolling us!

We just barely got over that whole Synonan Gallery thing and now this?

We get it. Your MRT is sooooooooo wonderful.

Last Tuesday, your train operator apologised for “the severe inconvenience imposed upon our customers” not because of a train breakdown,

Not because of train tunnel ponding.

Not because a train “came into contact” with another train with such over-friendliness that dozens of passengers had to go to hospital.

But because a train left a station 20 seconds early.

The horror.

No passenger even complained.

Well, you know what they say: “Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.”

Did your train operator go on Twitter to advise commuters to subtract 20 seconds from their train travel time?

Was the reverse-tardiness linked to a new signalling project? Or is a deep-seated culture the cause?

I suppose that is life.

Meanwhile, in Singapore, last Tuesday was Public Transport Workers’ Appreciation Day, where our Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said to let the recent train tunnel ponding be a “turning point”.

The next day, there was a disruption on each of SMRT’s three lines — the Circle Line, the East-West Line (where the injurious train-to-train contact occurred) and the North-South Line.

I call it a hattrick, but Mr Khaw called it “an awful day”.

Perhaps this could be the new “turning point”.

That is, until the next “awful day”. Or the next. Or the next…

Yes, our train operator just can’t seem to catch a break. We don’t need you to rub its nose in it. We’re doing that ourselves.

On Thursday, SMRT refuted a widely shared post about its CEO firing half of its “night crew”.

The company said on its Facebook page:
“This is obviously fake! How would SMRT have been able to complete the change out of all the power rails and 188,000 sleepers if staff count had indeed been cut so drastically?

“Contrary to what is purported, under SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek’s tenure, the Permanent Way (PWAY) team that looks after our track and track-side infrastructure almost DOUBLED.”

You would think that Singaporeans would at least support SMRT over fake news.

But that would be like expecting the Miss Universe Singapore national costume not to be campy.

One netizen commented: “This line ‘This is obviously fake!’ is very unprofessional of an official page. SMRT media team throwing tantrum?”

Another wrote: “So fast to response to fake news but so slow to solve true problems. This is obviously wrong! We don’t care how many staff you added, face the issues and get it fixed asap!”

And another commenter suggested:
“All they needed to do, was to phrase that single line as: ‘The claims and allegations made against us are simply untrue.’

How hard can that be? Seriously.

“Then again, this is the same SMRT media outlet that refuses to report any delay that doesn’t go beyond 10 mins in recent weeks AND pretend that no delays of that nature affecting pax ever happened on the ground. Not a surprise then.”

Like I said, our SMRT just can’t seem to catch a break. Even its corporate communications have gone off the rails.

As our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said about the recent SMRT mishaps at yesterday’s PAP Convention: “People are frustrated and worried, and understandably so. These incidents should not have happened.”

And he wasn’t talking about trains leaving the station 20 seconds early.

So we don’t need you, Japan, to make us feel worse about it.

We don’t need your Japanese CEO of your Japanese car company Nissan to say last Friday that he will return part of his salary after an inspection scandal led to a recall of 1.2 million Nissan vehicles.

All we got was a bow from our SMRT chairman Seah Moon Ming last month.

A post shared by SM Ong (@sm_ong) on

Our transport minister, Mr Khaw, once said: “In Japan, the chairman, the CEO will call a press conference and take a deep bow, and in the good old days, they may even commit hara-kiri.”

Giving up part of your salary is probably more painful.

Although after last week’s non-collision and today’s lightning strike, taking the MRT now feels like you could be committing some form of hara-kiri.

But then our Prime Minister also listed the top four cities in the world for train reliability and Singapore is one of them.

No Japanese city, though.

So who’s trolling who now?

Sayonara and thanks for the Samurai Burger (but not the Ninja Burger).

- Published in The New Paper, 20 November 2017


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