Piak Wa – Saw Phaik Hwa and What Next for Industry-PAP Ties?

Frak me! The SMRT CEO did an about turn about not resigning and is now exiting. Mind the gap… when she goes. SMRT profits increased 3-fold from $56 mill in 2002, when she joined, to $161.1 million in 2011. SMRT shareholders, please realise that the door that Phaik Hwa exited from has swung backwards and will slam into your face.

Nicely timed before “inconvenient” parliament questions can be asked tomorrow by “inconvenient” WP members, heh, it looks like there was political nudging to make Phaik Hwa eat her words and give up her seat to someone more deserving of it. Errrr, from an irate commuter and not a calculative SMRT shareholder POV. There was public pressure and therefore political pressure, in the recent PAP mood of bending backwards as much as they can to win hearts and minds, on SMRT’s chief driver to let go of the wheel. This sends a not-so subtle signal to Temasek, DBS, SIA blablabla other private companies perceived or actually remotely linked to the Establishment, that the PAP cannot protect them as much as before. Ahem, maybe unless they are family. That said, the resignation was as gracefully face-saving as it could. The news was that Phaik Hwa voiced that she wanted out on December 7, some time before the MRT fiasco. Oh well.

As she was right at the top, Phaik Hwa was not responsible for the severe crippling MRT disruptions in December last year. Shit happens and thankfully so far nobody was injured. But as CEO and right at the top, she was accountable. Should she have resigned? Perhaps, if there was another incident. Or more likely if there was an accident and fatalities. Or simply if investors lost confidence. Heh. But for those 3 MRT disruptions however awful it was? Hmmm.

Still, pleasing commuters/customers/constituents is not that simple. In many ways, politics and business lobbies are intertwined. Spore F1, Ong Being Seng and the govt footing a big part of the bill is one conspiracy theory. This happens everywhere and anywhere. It is just business and a mutually beneficial relationship from Beijing to Berlin. Taking a bigger step further on this platform about the symbiotic ties between them, now that Phaik Hwa was persuaded to exit the train, business lobbies might start to realise that maybe they cannot reply on PAP support as much, and therefore not give PAP support as much. One reason why the SDP Holland-Bt Timah dream team had an epic fail in the last GE was coz they preached left-leaning policies like min wage to industry moguls in districts 9, 10 and 11. Facepalm. Rhetoric that would not appeal to industry movers and shakers, who generally liked the PAP pro-business posturing.

The public should be appeased for now that they got what they wanted – Phaik Hwa was made to resign. Also, PAP’s natural opponents like WP have one less leverage to work on in parliament since the Phaik Hwa card cannot be played as well as before if she had stayed at the driver’s seat. The other losers are shareholders and investors as they lost a profit-churning CEO while SMRT would now be driven by someone else who cannot fix the MRT mechanical problems overnight anyway considering the expected increased stress in train frequency and load in recent years.


One Response to “Piak Wa – Saw Phaik Hwa and What Next for Industry-PAP Ties?”

  1. This is Anfield Says:

    She needed to resign because she was found out to be having not a single damn clue what kind of business the company she was running was all about! She spent her 9 years setting up stores in every single MRT station, and busy collecting and counting the rental money. Trains? Subway? Gee, what’s that?

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