Dear SMRT,

An open letter to SMRT from a relative of one of the young men that died on the job.

After the tragic loss of two young SMRT staff, the nation looked to SMRT for clarification and answers, we found none.

While every organisation has a PR team in times of crisis, it’s never wise to try and negate a work-related death by sidestepping it or claiming that you’ve done everything that can be done to ensure safety. Accountability and Responsibility should have been the direct course of action.

If so, then clearly your “everything” isn’t that good.


So here’s an open letter from a relative of one of the young men that lost their lives on the tracks.

We have heard it all before.

You say you are sorry. And that you share our sadness.

But you will return to your families and sleep easy tonight, while we mourn a tragic loss. Tomorrow morning, you will not have to make the dreadful trip to the mortuary to identify the lifeless and mangled body of a loved one. How can you say that you share our sadness? You do not understand our grief.

Yet you ever-so eloquently say that you are “very saddened by the loss.” But to you, the two young lives lost today are just a statistic; A number that you have to account for in the face of public outrage. Just collateral damage. Soon, you will forget. Your career goes on. Your life goes on.

To us they were beloved sons, brothers, cousins, nephews, friends. Brilliant human beings who had promising futures ahead of them.

Honest young men who woke up one morning, had breakfast with their families, and eagerly showed up for work. Brave young men who, a few hours later in the hot midday sun, responded to a train track fault only to be struck by a train. They followed your orders only to be betrayed.

As Muslims we try to live life right, to be kind to others, and live life knowing that one day we will return to our Maker. We do not fear or resent death.

What we resent are your attempts to clear yourselves of any fault, insisting that you have observed all the standard operating procedures. If you did everything right, then your standard operating procedures must be flimsy.

Your carefully maneuvered words make us wonder: are you attempting to shift the blame to the deceased? You know it is easy to blame someone who can no longer speak for himself.

Instead of being so quick to protect your interests, seek the humanity deep within you to acknowledge your mistakes and learn from them to ensure that this tragedy does not happen to any one else’s son. Will you take responsibility? Or will your public relations team continue to craft words to protect you from blame?

At this point, the families are grieving at the loss of a beloved. But grief will soon turn into anger.

The author is a relative of one of the deceased who passed on in the SMRT train tragedy on 22 March 2016 at 11.10 a.m.


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