SMRT chief executive resigns

SMRT president and chief executive officer Saw Phaik Hwa has resigned.

The company's board of directors has accepted her resignation, which will take effect today, SMRT said in a statement this evening.

Ms Saw, 57, will remain with the SMRT Group to assist the relevant investigation teams and the Committee of Inquiry (COI) reviewing the disruptions to train operations in December. She will also help with the transition to new executive leadership. 

Mr Tan Ek Kia, one of SMRT's board members, will assume interim executive responsibility for the management of SMRT, while the Board conducts a search for a new CEO. 

Chairman of SMRT, Mr Koh Yong Guan, said, "On 7 December, Phaik Hwa spoke to me about her desire to move on during 2012, after having served nine years and led SMRT through considerable growth."

"During her tenure, SMRT has delivered strong results, and is regarded as one of the world's leading public transport operators," Mr Koh added.

Ms Saw said that she acknowledged the time was right for the Board to look at new leadership for the organisation.

"I have had the privilege of leading a group of very committed and loyal staff over the last nine years. I feel it is now time for SMRT to bring in new leadership and take the organisation to the next level. This is the culmination of a discussion I began with the Chairman in early December," she said.

Ms Saw was previously a regional president at DFS Venture Singapore, a duty-free retail chain and oversaw 1,000 employees in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Under her leadership, SMRT's net profit grew from $56.8 million in 2002 to $161.1 million in 2011.

Rail ridership has also gone up, averaging a combined 1.79 million a day in September.

Interim CEO to focus on rail operations

Mr Tan Ek Kia, 63, who will assume executive leadership of SMRT in the interim, said he will focus on ensuring SMRT meets its commitment to the public to deliver reliable transport services.

"The staff of SMRT are aware of public expectations that we deliver on our commitment to learn lessons from December's incidents. I will put a particular emphasis on rail as the cornerstone of our public transport system." Mr Tan said.

Mr Tan has been a board director of SMRT since July 2009.

He is a former Managing Director of Shell Malaysia Exploration and Production and Chairman of Shell North East Asia. He has diverse experience in engineering and construction, safety, operations and business management.