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Wednesday, 23 June 2010

SMRT is responsible, says Shanmugam

Some letters to our MSM will never get published, such as this one to TODAY, which is one reason why I set up this blog.

Dear Editor

I refer to the above captioned report (Today, June 21).

As the Law Minister had slammed public listed companies over "security", he seemed to have clarified on two important issues :-

(a) Whether a "private sector organisation" like the SMRT is directly responsible for the security of the premises of a gazetted "Protected Place",

(b) Who should be paying for the security costs when the profits of a public listed transporter, such as SMRT, go to the shareholders ?

His answer to (a) is clearly SMRT has direct responsibility. The physical hardware for ensuring security protection, like the CCTVs; and its software for implementation of security measures such as the monitoring of security has to be the responsibility of the "private" company as well.

His answer to (b) above, which seemed to be aimed at appeasing public anger and concern over this security breach, is that costs should not be borne by the ordinary Singaporeans, but by the "public listed company" and its shareholders.

While the physical hardware and software for implementing security could be traced to that of SMRT, a basic question remains unanswerd, i.e., - Who should ensure the basic safety provided for the general public is adequate and what if there is a lapse of security provisions for a gazetted "Protected Place" by a "private" company? I am sure the current laws do not spelled these out clearly. However, the duty of care would certainly falls on the Government and the relevant Ministries.

This "safety and duty of care demanded" is not confined to the physical protection of the "Protected Place" itself as currently laid now in the Acts , but extended beyond to cover the general aspect of public safety which I am sure is still lacking in the Acts.
Why has the relevant Authorities not realised and communicated this vulnerability to the Government despite the setting up of a high level security "umbrella" with the appointment of high level Ministers at SM and DPM level to focus on coordinating and implementing national security measures since the 911 and Mas Selamat Escape events?

There seems to be a total lack of postive attention and actions at the top level. What we had heard is warning sounded for the public to be wary, but this act of public education alone does not solve problems of the nature well illustrated by this incident, if it had been a terrorist act. 

This responsibility expected is not that from the top management of the SMRT or its shareholders alone, which perhaps ultimately falls on financing. Does our Government and / or the relevant Authorities claimed it could "washed" its hand off in this matter with the Law Minsiter's slamming clarifications?

In fact, I note that the police patrols at MRT stations seemed to have slowed downed sometime before this incident. Quite obviously in the case of a MRT station, the issue of public alertness seems to be paramount since the SMRT had decently added on many security cameras during its recent upgrading. But in the case of the depots, they are totally out-of-bound to the public, except only authorised staff and contractors, and yet they posed the greatest risks to the public. 

Shouldn't there be a counter-check in security implementation if the Acts are insufficient to cover?

Reference
Abstracted From
by S Ramesh

SINGAPORE - The recent vandalism incident at SMRT's Changi depot has sparked debate over who should be responsible for security on premises like train depots.

Is it the Government's job, or should the responsibility fall on SMRT?

To Law Minister K Shanmugam, the answer was clear - the rail operator's security is its own responsibility and the cost of beefing up its defences should not be borne by ordinary Singaporeans.
Speaking to reporters at a community event yesterday, Mr Shanmugam, who is also Second Minister for Home Affairs, said it is impossible and unacceptable to require taxpayers to pay for the security of thousands of profit-making entitles in Singapore...

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