Some 30 years ago, the late Lee Kuan Yew famously said that when things go wrong in the country (when they shouldn’t), “firing the chief is very simple”.
Yet despite his company being in dire straits and petitions calling for his resignation, SMRT CEO Desmond Quek remains untouchable.
Accountability is a virtue that the authorities harp on all the time – no one escapes punishment when major screw-ups happen. Look at the AHPETC saga for instance. Dr Vivian Balakrishnan told the Workers’ Party in parliament to come clean and not cover up their mistake. And just this past July, the conclusion of the Oxley saga showed all Singaporeans how accountability is done right.
Hence, if firing Desmond Kuek is so hard, and given that he has not been held accountable for SMRT’s continued problems, then it suggests that the man may not even exist in the first place.
It’s the only reasonable conclusion.
Being in front of the cameras for days, even weeks, is a frightening task when you are used to managing problems behind closed doors.
The CEO of SMRT thus may have dispatched an actor look-alike to take the heat off him, while he desperately tries to fix deep-seated issues away from the scrutiny of the media.
Finding an actor would have been easy, given the resources and showbiz expertise of Mediacorp, which is also owned by SMRT’s parent company Temasek Holdings. We hear that Steven Lim is the go-to guy for talent like this.
We might even theorise that the real Desmond Kuek is no longer in office, having escaped the shitstorm and vanished a long time ago.
To cover up this embarrassing scandal, chairman Seah Moon Ming has since been pulling the strings of Kuek’s double while coordinating all restructuring efforts within the company.
The face of the CEO’s double will continue to be the punching bag of the beleaguered company until all holes have been plugged. Then they can announce his resignation, or the fact that he has fled the country—whichever is more likely to distract from SMRT’s unending problems.
Let’s be honest – a firing squad of bloodthirsty journalists and displeased MPs in parliament would almost certainly signify the end of one’s career.
Yet the SMRT CEO does not look one bit fazed. In fact, he does not seem to fear death at all.
While employees working for him have been punished for their incompetence and dishonesty, he still remains in power. This suggests he must have some kind of ability to repel attacks against him, allowing him to have survived this long.
Only one man has that sort of extraordinary power – Ra’s al Ghul, one of Batman’s most powerful enemies, who has prolonged his life for centuries.
We can even point to Kuek’s former appointment as the country’s highest ranking military commander as a possible reason for his continued employment. There are rumours that black ops soldiers guard his office, which was recently relocated to a bunker beneath the company’s headquarters.
Tai chi’s philosophy is all about meeting an incoming force with softness, following its motion while remaining in physical contact until the incoming force of attack exhausts itself.
Exactly how Kuek has been defending himself thus far – playing the waiting game and pushing blame to others at the same time, in the hope that the heat on him would eventually dissipate.
The fact that his predecessor Saw Phaik Hwa is a certified instructor only bolsters this theory.
The concept of a human-like robot living amongst us is not new, and was recently re-examined in the science-fiction movie Blade Runner 2049.
But what if androids dreaming of electric sheep is no longer just a work of fiction, but reality?
At the press conference held in October after the flooding of the North-South Line tunnels, eyebrows were merely raised when chairman Seah bowed in front of the clicking cameras as a show of apology.
Mr Kuek stood behind Mr Seah with his hands behind his back, as though he were the parade commander overlooking the whole charade. I mean, parade.
We immediately picked up Mr Kuek’s seeming lack of emotion as a telltale sign that he is not human.
We can only surmise that Kuek is likely to be a hologram or even an artificially intelligent robot with anthropomorphic features, developed in the secret labs of the Defence Science and Technology Agency.
And since he was engineered for the military, his programming may have lacked the script for bowing.
If Project Desmond Kuek fails, no problem – DSTA will just make a new version.