It was with considerable sadness that I read about Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew's resignation ("Lui Tuck Yew decides to leave politics"; yesterday).
Mr Lui's four-year tenure has been an extremely challenging one, focusing on short- and long-term goals to ensure Singaporeans continue to enjoy a very competitively priced commute, a comfortable ride, punctual arrivals of trains and minimal disruptions.
His achievements as transport minister have been stellar: He increased the Bukit Panjang LRT capacity by 50 per cent, built two flyovers over Upper Bukit Timah Road, improved traffic flow at the Bukit Timah Expressway, Pan-Island Expressway and Jalan Anak Bukit junctions, and initiated the upcoming widening of Clementi Road.
In addition, Phase 2 of the Downtown Line will be operational later this year, getting back on track after a key contractor went bust in 2013 ("Downtown Line Stage 2 back on track for Dec start"; June 29).
Mr Lui's initiatives in bus service expansions, stabilising certificate of entitlement prices and tendering out public-private partnership to foreign companies are testimony to his sterling track record helming the Transport Ministry.
That maintenance is an ongoing issue had not escaped his attention or focus.
SMRT staff work through the night during off-operational hours to change worn tracks and runners. A much better timing device, soon to be completed, would shorten train arrivals from 120 seconds to 100 seconds.
Mr Lui faced a barrage of complaints, insults and condemnations whenever there was an MRT disruption, a transport fare increase, or a jump in COE prices.
Still, he worked tirelessly and good naturedly to try to meet the high demands of some commuters.
His departure will add to the collective loss generated with the departure of other capable leaders, such as former foreign minister George Yeo.
Ho Kong Loon
This article was first published on Aug 13, 2015.
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