The Government is desperately scrambling to deflect criticism over the break-in into the Changi MRT depot by pushing the blame to the SMRT for failing to secure the perimeter of the station. This it does by saying that SMRT is a private company and should therefore ensure that security of its premises is adequate.
If we accept the PAP’s argument that SMRT is a private company (which records show that it isn’t), there are some outstanding questions:
One, did the Government insist that SMRT beef up its security operations?
One would have thought that given the train bombings in London and Madrid, steps would have been taken to tighten security at our MRT depots. This did not need deep analysis, it was plain common sense. As a majority shareholder of SMRT, the Government had every right, indeed obligation, to tell the train operator to secure its depots.
Two, did the Government offer its expertise and resources?
The SMRT is not in the business, nor does it have the expertise, to take care of terrorist threats. The Government is and does. Did it offer these resources to SMRT?
Three, did the Government put back the dividends it was paid back into MRT security?
As a shareholder the Government was paid dividends. How much was this in the last five years and was this money used to invest in security at the stations?
Four. did the Government representatives attend the AGMs of the company?
As a shareholder, Government (Temasek) representatives would have attended SMRT’s AGMs. Were security issues, including guarding the fence perimeter of the depots, raised during these meetings and how were they dealt with? Or were discussions centred only on business strategies and profit-margins? Minutes would have been recorded. These should be made public.
If the PAP insists that the SMRT is a private company, it still has the above questions to answer.
The only way that we can ascertain whether the Government had pushed SMRT to take security measures at its depots would be to look at the minutes of the company’s AGM. Given the seriousness of the breach, this is the least the company can do to facilitate investigations into its and the Government’s extent of negligence.
In truth, whether the SMRT is a private company or not, the Government clearly had a role and responsibility in making sure that the public is adequately protected from terrorist atacks. It failed.
Now it tries to muddy the water by insisting the SMRT is a private company. This sorry excuse for an argument must be completely rejected. It is nothing but a red herring.