SINGAPORE (Apr 23): SMRT Corp CEO Desmond Kuek is stepping down after 5½ years at the helm. It isn’t clear what his successor Neo Kian Hong can do to improve the public’s perception of the company.

Kuek took the reins at a time when public satisfaction with the train service was close to a low. Two major breakdowns in 2011 had affected more than 200,000 commuters and led to a committee of inquiry hearing. The CEO at that time, Saw Phaik Hwa, subsequently resigned.

In the interim, board member Tan Ek Kia announced a $900 million maintenance plan to renew SMRT’s assets and prevent future breakdowns. Upon coming on board, Kuek continued on the path Tan had set. The company significantly ramped up its investments in manpower and assets.

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