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SMRT Staff’s Reaction to Seng Han Thong’s Remarks on Their English Standard

SMRT staff: One people, one nation, one Singapore; regardless of language, race or religion
SMRT staff: One people, one nation, one Singapore; regardless of language, race or religion

The Seng Han Thong saga has drawn mixed reactions from Singaporeans, with most expressing their disapproval. What about the SMRT staff themselves who were the subject of the whole controversy on English standard?

Find out via Singapore’s favourite Train Officer, Gin Tai’s blog:

I’m a Chinese Train Officer but my Malay and Indian colleagues just want to know how I feel.

Of course, bring a true blue Singaporean living amongst the Malay and Indian races, I told them SHT should not have mentioned races. As simple as that.

He should not pinpoint any race. He should just say in a general manner that our Train Officers should go for training to brush up their English so as to improve their communications skill. Better still if we could go to British Council for Effective Spoken English course! I am sure there will not be any issue if he did not mention race(s).

Having said that, I then mentioned that SHT has already apologised on his FB. Some of them being quite observant said that he was not sincere. He claimed that it is miscommunication. He tried to push his “mistake” to our SMRT PR whom denied categorically. Is it a case of miscommunication or him trying to wriggle out of it? Really langgar lah!

Some TOs have written to our union delegates to voice their indignation. The union has yet to reply or is it avoiding the matter cuz SHT was our ex-Secretary of NTWU. How could he be so daft to commit such a mistake?

On our TOs’ FB, the incessant rantings and flamings (figuratively lah!) continue unabated despite his apology on his FB. Those Train Officers demand that he apologise sincerely by coming down personally to the ground to our 3 crew stations. Do you think he will do that?

Do not forget that he has got “immunity” from “flaming” especially after his last traumatic encounter and the PM spoke so highly of him.

Don’t believe me?

Just stop and ask any Malay or Indian Train Officer and just mention SHT. I’ll bet with my last dollar – all kinds of “F” expletives will fly and hurl against him on your face! No joking here.

Mr Seng Han Thong vs SMRT: Who Should We Believe?

Seng Han Thong, MP at Ang Mo Kio GRC who speaks good English
Seng Han Thong, MP at Ang Mo Kio GRC who speaks good English

A statement by Member of Parliament Seng Han Thong  on the SMRT breakdown fiasco has sparked an online furore. Via TheOnlineCitizen and AsiaOne.com:

“I noticed that the PR (SMRT public relations officer) mentioned that some of the (SMRT) staff, because they are Malay, they are Indian, they can’t converse in English well enough, so that also deters them, but I think we accept broken English.” Said Seng Han Thong on TV.

At no point did Mr Goh highlight any particular race in his remarks.” Said a SMRT Spokesperson.

Minister of State for Community Development Youth and Sports Madam Halimah Yacob has this to say about the whole incident:

“Several friends have raised their concerns over MP Seng Han Thong’s remarks. I am also disturbed by the remarks which are inappropriate and unfair even though he may be repeating what someone else said. Having worked in the labour movement for 33 years before taking up my present post, I am reminded of how employers in the past sometimes try to pin the blame on the lowest elvel workers as a way of… deflecting responsibilty from the management whenever a major problem occurs. Effective communication as we all know requires a properly thought out strategy and plan, putting a system in place, training of employees and testing whether the plan works, among others. It is not right to pin the blame on workers and, what is worse, Malay and Indian workers for the purported lack of English proficiency…”

Liar liar, pants on fire.

Who lied?

Or are both SMRT and Seng Han Thong just extremely  bad at communicating and listening to others?

Here’s the Blog.TV segment which got Seng Han Thong into hot soup:

Here’s a spoof on the whole saga by Mr Brown pretending to be Seng Han Thong:

On a side note, do Singaporeans realise that MPs in Ang Mo Kio GRC like Seng Han Thong and Lee Bee Wah (now transferred to Nee Soon GRC) enjoy “免死金牌” (immunity) status? There is no way we can vote them out no matter how badly they screw up as it would mean voting out our beloved Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong too.