Saturday, 21 October 2017

A China that stands tall in the world

Xi Jinping's 2050 vision
College students wave national flags as they watch the opening of the 19th Communist Party Congress in Huaibei. FOTO: AFP

5 years after he espoused his Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation, President Xi Jinping has presented his new 2050 vision for China: a modern socialist country that can stand tall in the world.

In setting the ambitious goal, to be achieved in 2 phases, Mr Xi has shown awareness of the challenges and risks ahead.

"Achieving national rejuvenation will be no walk in the park; it will take more than drum beating & gong clanging to get there," he told more than 2,200 party delegates, retired leaders & non-party guests at the opening of the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) 19th national congress yesterday.

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Xi Jinping lays out road map to make China leading global power by 2050
Xi Jinping said China would continue opening its doors to foreign businesses, defend against systemic risks, deepen state-run enterprise reform, strengthen financial sector regulation and better coordinate fiscal and monetary policy. Photo: AFP
Xi Jinping said China would continue opening its doors to foreign businesses, defend against systemic risks, deepen state-run enterprise reform, strengthen financial sector regulation and better coordinate fiscal and monetary policy. Photo: AFP

President Xi Jinping warned of “severe” challenges while laying out a road map to turn China into a leading global power by 2050, as he kicked off a twice-a-decade party gathering expected to cement his influence into the next decade.

In a speech that ran for more than three hours on Wednesday, Xi declared victory over “many difficult, long overdue problems” since he took power in 2012. He said China would continue opening its doors to foreign businesses, defend against systemic risks, deepen state-run enterprise reform, strengthen financial sector regulation and better coordinate fiscal and monetary policy.

“Right now both China and the world are in the midst of profound and complex changes,” Xi said. “China is still in an important period of strategic opportunity for development. The prospects are bright, but the challenges are severe.”

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China hails era of ‘great rejuvenation’
China's President Xi Jinping speaks during the opening session of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song
Xi Jinping speaks during the opening session of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Photo: Reuters/Aly Song

Today the Communist Party of China (CPC) struts into their-twice-a-decade National Congress with confidence not felt in China for centuries. Xi Jinping standing at its helm, China’s central government has guided the world’s most populous country through precarious terrain to continue an economic rise unprecedented in scale.

This is the message Chinese media has for foreign suspicion of Xi Jinping’s consolidation of power and skepticism towards his reform agenda. The lead story run on major Chinese news websites on the eve of the meeting, entitled “Writing the epic scroll of the era of great rejuvenation – a record of central party leadership with comrade Xi Jinping as its core,” extolled the Chinese people’s “new, greater contribution to mankind.”

China’s official Xinhua News Agency went a step further to proclaim in an English-language editorial that “Enlightened Chinese democracy puts the West in the shade.”

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China ascendant, US floundering
U.S. President Donald Trump, left, has shunned America's world role, paving the way for Chinese President Xi Jinping to expand Beijing's global influence. © Pool/Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping could not have written a better script. Xi looks unassailable as Communist party congress opens thanks to Trump's missteps.

As China begins its 19th Communist Party Congress, with Xi set to be anointed to a second five-year term and cement his uncontested control, the Chinese leader is perfectly poised to look outward and exert global leadership. He will be doing so precisely as the U.S. is turning inward, its politics appear increasingly dysfunctional, and a new administration, under its "America First" doctrine, is dramatically withdrawing from America's traditional world leadership role.

Xi can largely thank Donald Trump for his good fortune. The American president began his presidency by withdrawing the U.S. from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. It was an accord largely of America's making that was aimed at drawing the region closer to the U.S. economically, while potentially luring China to liberalize its economy as the price of entry. With the TPP now languishing, Beijing is pushing to conclude a rival trade pact, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, by the end of this year.

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Time for 'new era' China to 'take centre stage in the world'
China's President Xi Jinping inspects People's Liberation Army soldiers at a barracks in Hong Kong
China's President Xi Jinping inspects People's Liberation Army soldiers at a barracks in Hong Kong

PERHAPS the grand Beijing Exhibition Center should be renamed the grand Xi Jinping Adoration Palace.

That's because the giant complex has been transformed into a showcase promoting the accomplishments of China's president: “Five years of Brave Endeavor.” His image is plastered on every wall, his words are blasted from large speakers, and a massive TV screen announces that under Xi, the ruling Communist Party "has solved unsolvable problems and carried out impossible tasks.”

The over-the-top display comes as the party convened Wednesday to select Xi for a second five-year term as its leader, and thus head of the country, cementing his place as the most powerful man to rule this nation of 1.4 billion in at least a generation.

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Xi Jinping says China will take “center stage in the world”
Great Hall of the People: China opens the 19th National Congress - decisions will be formally announced the end of next week

China will take “center stage in the world,” according to President Xi Jinping, who outlined his vision for the country in a three-and-a-half hour speech at the opening of the 19th Communist Party Congress in Beijing Wednesday.

Touting the triumph of “socialism,” albeit with “Chinese characteristics,” Xi said China had “crossed the threshold into a new era” during remarks aimed at cementing his position at the top of the regime. “It is time for us to take centre stage in the world and to make a greater contribution to humankind,” he said. Pledging to build a “modern socialist country” by 2035, Xi said China would not “mechanically copy the political systems of other countries,” and even took a veiled swipe at President Donald Trump, who recently withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate accord.

“No country can alone address the many challenges facing mankind; no country can afford to retreat into self-isolation,” Xi said.

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Xi Jinping: The Time Has Come For China ‘To Take Center Stage In The World’
China's President Xi Jinping speaks during the opening session of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China October 18, 2017.  REUTERS/Aly Song
China's President Xi Jinping speaks during the opening session of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song

Chinese President Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful leader in decades, presented his vision for his country and its role in the world at China’s most important political event of the year Wednesday.

Speaking before delegates and officials at the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi heralded the arrival of a “new era” of Chinese power. Since he took office as the Chinese leader five years ago, he has attempted to dramatically reshape the Chinese economy with an emphasis on quality over speed, modernize the military to win wars in the information age, and strengthen the party around his “core” leadership through an alleged anti-corruption campaign which has resulted in the purge of over one million government officials.

He has advocated a policy known as the “Chinese Dream,” an ambitious strategy to revitalize Chinese development and restore the country’s great power status. The Chinese president is now calling for a more forceful push. After decades of “tireless struggle,” China now stands “tall and firm in the East,” Xi said Wednesday.

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Xi Jinping consolidates power, calls for 'new era'
Since stepping into power five years ago, Mr Xi has relentlessly consolidated his power earning the title of "core" leader last year. PHOTO: AFP

IN A particularly long speech in front of top Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members gathered in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for "a new era" for China, with the party well anchored at the core of his vision.

Mr Xi, who also leads the party and the military, reiterated the central role of the CCP in China's development, and laid out his policy goals for the world's second largest economy over the next five years.

At the end of the nearly three-and-a-half hour-long speech, he was heavily applauded by the floor as he took his place on the stage next to his predecessors Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin, who both made rare public appearances.

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7 things you need to know about Xi Jinping’s vision of a ‘new era’ for China
Along with the special administrative region of Macau, Hong Kong was mentioned no fewer than three times in President Xi Jinping’s speech. Photo: Xinhua

President Xi Jinping has outlined his vision for the next five years of development in China as the Communist Party’s congress opened in Beijing on Wednesday

During a 3½-hour long speech, Xi said the internal and external situations facing China were undergoing complicated changes which the party needed to address.

He vowed to step up ideological guidance within the party, strengthen its anti-corruption campaign, retain the government’s grip on Hong Kong and Macau, and oppose any moves towards independence in Taiwan.

Here are the major takeaways of his report:
  • A new name for Xi’s political philosophy
  • Becoming a nation with leading, global influence by 2050
  • Keeping up with the “irreversible” momentum of anti-corruption campaign and maintaining the rule by law
  • Protecting national sovereignty
  • Upholding central government authority over Hong Kong and Macau and opposing Taiwan independence
  • Creating a level playing field for foreign businesses
  • Protecting the public interest

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China’s leader Xi Jinping declares the start of a “new era”

Mr Xi stuck to a formulaic style, repeating oft-used phraseology. But there were significant differences, such as in the unlovely title of one section: “Thoughts on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”. Deng Xiaoping coined the clunky term “socialism with Chinese characteristics” in the 1980s. Mr Xi’s contribution is the catchier bit, “new era”.

China, he said, was at a “new historic juncture”. The coming era would see it “moving closer to centre stage and making greater contributions to mankind”. But achieving what he called the “Chinese dream”—another of his catchphrases—would be “no walk in the park”. He said it would “take more than drum-beating and gong-clanging to get there”.

Mr Xi talked in some detail about a “two-stage development plan” that will make China a “great modern socialist country” in the era between now and 2050. According to this, China will become a global leader in innovation by 2035, with “rule of law” in place and much greater “soft power” globally. In the 15 years after that, it will become “prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful”. (Mr Xi does not mean democratic in the normal sense: he gave no hint that there would be any erosion whatever of the party’s control.)

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5 Years Ago, China's Xi Jinping Was Largely Unknown. Now He's Poised To Reshape China
China's President Xi Jinping gives a speech at the opening session of the Chinese Communist Party Congress on Wednesday

What a difference five years can make. In the autumn of 2012, Xi Jinping — the Chinese Communist Party general secretary, someone the Economist recently dubbed the "world's most powerful man" — was a little-known figure. As the 18th Party Congress neared, he had spent five years as Chinese president Hu Jintao's heir apparent, but he was not associated with any specific policy, phrase or ideological position.

Little was known about his personal life, except that he was married to a famous singer — or his personal history, except that he was the son of a onetime comrade in arms to Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. When specialists speculated about him, they often considered two possibilities: Would he turn out to be, like Hu during the preceding half-decade, a colorless, rule-by-committee sort who maintained the status quo, gradually tightened control over civil society and made only cautious economic moves? Or would he follow in Deng's footsteps and reboot China's economic reforms — and perhaps even, in the mode of his liberal-minded father, push for some political reforms as well?

That was five long years ago. And the reality of how Xi is ruling China has confounded those early predictions. Now, Xi's face and words are everywhere. China's bookstores are filled with volumes by and about him. He is closely linked to ubiquitous slogans, such as the "China Dream," and sprawling infrastructure and investment programs, such as the Belt and Road Initiative.

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China's Plan to Buy Influence and Undermine Democracy
President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in front of Chinese and Filipino flags.
Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte prior to their bilateral meeting during the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China on May 15, 2017

Along a major tributary of the Mekong River in northeastern Cambodia sits the newly opened Lower Sesan II Dam hydropower plant. The 400-megawatt dam will produce badly needed electricity for the country, but at the cost of potential major ecological damage and the eviction of some 5,000 families from the area. Such consequences are unlikely to sink the fortunes of Hun Sen, Cambodia’s strongman leader who, for 32 years, has relied on the largesse of foreign governments to fund infrastructure projects: For this latest venture, he has China to thank for footing the more than $800-million bill.

In the past, Southeast Asian nations largely turned to the United States and its Western partners to finance such undertakings; in exchange, several of them would maintain the trappings of a democratic society. But under President Donald Trump, America’s waning regional influence is opening the door for China to expand its footprint in the region, even if that means Beijing must deal with illiberal, repressive autocrats seemingly determined to remain in power forever. “I believe I can live at least 30 more years, therefore I can continue as prime minister for 10 more years. It is not difficult for me,” the 65-year-old Hun Sen remarked at the inauguration for the dam last month.

To enhance its economic and political clout, China has made substantial inroads across Southeast Asia on the back of multi-billion-dollar infrastructure and investment deals like the one in Cambodia. This is how China will engage with the world for the foreseeable future. At the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China on Wednesday, a political conclave held once every five years to present the leadership’s governing agenda, Xi Jinping, arguably China’s strongest ruler in decades, will solidify his rule and reinforce an expansive foreign economic platform that will shape the region for years to come.

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Like Uber, for socialism: Chinese leader calls for more use of AI, big data and sharing economy
china

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has outlined the nation's technological ambitions in his opening address to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

The Congress is staged every five years and commences with an address from the leader, in which he (always he, so far) outlines past accomplishments, gives official endorsement to previously-announced policies and hints at future directions.

Xi Jinping's speech, delivered yesterday, ran for 205 minutes and saw him tie the nation's economic future to technology, with the following sentence:
"We need to speed up building China into a strong country with advanced manufacturing, pushing for deep integration between the real economy and advanced technologies including internet, big data, and artificial intelligence"
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Xi Jinping: A speech that spells power
Inside the party congress
The aptly-named Great Hall, where more than 2,000 delegates attended for one lengthy speech

If anyone doubts that China retains an unreformed Leninist political system, then the goings-on inside the Great Hall of the People over the past few hours should put them straight.

Firstly, the president - and general secretary of the Communist Party - was seated alongside a nonagenarian former leader who is simultaneously thought to wield some political power while also frequently rumoured to be dead.

The appearance of Jiang Zemin, whose large glasses and wide smile lead his admirers to affectionately call him "The Toad," caused a ripple of excitement on Chinese social media. "He's alive and well and chatting away!" said a typical post on Weibo - before the censors quickly got to work

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‘We will win ANY war’ China issues chilling challenge for WW3
China military
WORLD WAR 3: China have promised its army will win 'ANY' conflict in a speech by Xi Jinping

Chinese premier Xi Jinping issued the challenge to the world in a three-and-half hour speech at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party.

The strongman leader – described as China’s answer to Vladimir Putin – promised his nation will develop a “world class” military. President Xi promised China will be able to win wars “across all theatres”.

Beijing already has the largest army in the world at its command – with the colossal People’s Liberation Army. China’s arsenal already includes 2.3 million soldiers, 9,200 tanks, 2,900 warplanes, 673 ships and a stockpile of 260 nukes.

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Chinese president Xi lays out vision for 'new era' led by 'still stronger' Communist Party in 3½ HOUR speech as he opens five-yearly national congress
Inside Great Hall: Xi said, China would become a modern socialist 'strong power' with leading influence on world stage
Inside Great Hall: Xi said, China would become a modern socialist 'strong power' with leading influence on world stage

China's biggest political event, the Communist Party congress, opened today in Beijing, under tight security. Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed more than 2,000 delegates in the capital, which ran nearly three and a half hours.

Xi's wide-ranging speech laid out a confident vision for an increasingly prosperous China and its place in the world. 'Through a long period of hard work, socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, this is a new historical direction in our country's development,' Xi said, using the term 'new era' 36 times.

The twice-a-decade congress, a week-long, mostly closed-door conclave, will culminate with the selection of a new Politburo Standing Committee that will rule China's 1.4 billion people for the next five years, with Xi expected to consolidate his grasp on power. Xi addressed more than 2,000 delegates in Beijing's cavernous Great Hall of the People, including 91-year-old former president Jiang Zemin, under tight security on a rainy, smoggy morning.

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19th congress of Communist Party of China kicks off; Pres. Xi stresses national rejuvenation
The Communist Party of China opens the 19th National Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China

The 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China kicked off in Beijing on Wednesday. It's China's biggest political event, held only twice a decade. More than 23-hundred delegates are in Beijing from around the country to elect a new Politburo -- the group that effectively rules the country -- to make amendments to the constitution and to lay out plans for national development.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is starting his second term. He's alread been declared the 'core leader' of the Party, but now his political stature is to be put on par with that of the Party's founder Mao Zedong and his successor Deng Xiaoping.

Opening the week-long congress, President Xi said that China has made some historic achievements over past five years, lifting over six million people out of poverty. He stressed that now the Party's task is to realize the "Chinese Dream" of national rejuvenation -- developing "socialism with Chinese characteristics" for a new era and thereby completing the construction of a modern socialist state by the 2050s. To do that, he emphasized, centralized and unified leadership is the key.
"China is still and will long remain in the primary stage of socialism, and China's international status as the world's largest developing country has not changed. The whole Party should work to unite people of all ethnic groups across the country to achieve economic development as the main goal and make China a powerful socialist state."
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Xi Jinping: China entering 'new era' of power amid 'complex changes' abroad, says Chinese Premier
china-xi-jinping.jpg
Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the opening session of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China REUTERS

Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to usher in a "new era" that will be proudly Chinese, amid "complex changes" at home and abroad.

Speaking at the opening of the Communist Party congress, Mr Xi laid out his vision for an increasingly prosperous China, calling for the party to safeguard China's sovereignty and pledging to become a modern socialist "strong power".

Striking a decidedly nationalist tone, he said China must revitalise its culture, oppose "erroneous" ideology and promote religion that is "Chinese in orientation."

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Xi says China will continue to open its economy, deepen financial reforms
Former President Hu Jintao, President Xi Jinping, former President Jiang Zemin at China's Congress  (from left to right)

China will push ahead with market-oriented reforms of its foreign exchange rate as well as its financial system, and let the market play a decisive role in the allocation of resources, Xi said at the opening of a key, twice-a-decade Communist Party Congress.

“China’s open door will not be closed, it will be only be opened wider,” Xi said. The government will “clean up rules and practices that hinder a unified market and fair competition, support development of private firms and stimulate vitality of all types of market entities,” Xi said, while pledging to further open China’s services sector to foreign investors.

However, while expressing support for market reform and private firms, Xi also called for stronger, bigger state firms. The government will “promote strengthening, improvement and expansion of state capital, (and) effectively prevent loss of state assets, deepen reform of state-owned enterprises, development a mixed-ownership economy and cultivate globally competitive world-class firms,” Xi said.

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Communist Party of China holds 19th Congress: Xi Jinping vows to build modern socialist country
Xi’s wide-ranging speech kicked off the twice-a-decade congress, a week-long, mostly closed-door conclave that will culminate with the selection of a new Politburo Standing Committee that will rule China's 1.4 billion people for the next five years. Reuters
Chinese president Xi Jinping opened the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China on Wednesday in Beijing's Great Hall of the People with a pledge to build a "modern socialist country" that will never copy the political systems of others and will remain open to the world. Reuters

Xi’s wide-ranging speech kicked off the twice-a-decade congress, a week-long, mostly closed-door conclave that will culminate with the selection of a new Politburo Standing Committee that will rule China's 1.4 billion people for the next five years.

Xi set out his vision as he addressed more than 2,000 delegates in Beijing's cavernous Great Hall of the People, including 91-year-old former president Jiang Zemin. "Through a long period of hard work, socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, this is a new historical direction in our country's development," Xi said in a speech carried live across the nation on state television.

China will relax market access for foreign investment and expand access to its services sector, as well as deepen market-oriented reform of its exchange rate and financial system, while at the same time strengthening state firms, he said.

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China will erase poverty by 2020, party says
Tuo Zhen, deputy head of the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of China. AFP

China is fully confident that under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China Central Committee it will win the battle against poverty on time, Tuo Zhen, spokesman for the 19th CPC National Congress, said on Tuesday.

“As to whether we can build a moderately prosperous society, the key lies in the rural population. It depends on whether the population of poor living in rural areas can be lifted out of poverty,” he said.

To lift all the rural population living in poverty by 2020 is a solid commitment made by the Party and has to be achieved, Tuo added.

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CPC opens 19th national congress as China enters 'new era'
The Communist Party of China (CPC) opens the 19th National Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 18, 2017. (Xinhua/Zhang Duo)

The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) opened Wednesday as socialism with Chinese characteristics enters a "new era."

Xi Jinping is delivering a report titled "Secure a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and strive for the great success of socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era."  The theme of the congress is to "Remain true to our original aspiration and keep our mission firmly in mind, hold high the banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, secure a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, strive for the great success of socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, and work tirelessly to realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation."

"The original aspiration and the mission of Chinese Communists is to seek happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation," Xi said.

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The road ahead for China – in Xi Jinping’s words
The road ahead for China – in Xi Jinping’s words

Chinese President Xi Jinping detailed a vision for China for the next five years in a 3½-hour speech at the opening of the Communist Party’s 19th congress on Wednesday. Here are his key points:
  • On Communist Party leadership
  • On national rejuvenation
  • On China’s international role
  • On foreign investment in China
  • On the domestic economy
  • On reviving state enterprises
  • On China’s military
  • On Taiwan
  • On Hong Kong
  • On poverty
  • On innovation

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How Xi Jinping's China stacks up with the rest of the world
Former Chinese President Jiang Zemin (bottom left) holds up a towel as other attendees clap during a speech by Xi Jinping

In a pivotal three-hour speech, China's President Xi Jinping on Wednesday painted a rosy picture of the country's accomplishments over the past five years. But how does China really stack up with the rest of the world when it comes to the economy, the environment and its military?

When Xi assumed leadership of the ruling Chinese Communist Party in late 2012, the country was in pretty good shape. While the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession had taken its toll on China's economy, it still grew by 7.8% in 2012, and the year before had overtaken Japan to become the world's second-largest economy.

The biggest challenges facing Xi were largely internal -- corruption, party factional disputes, and environmental. The first two he dealt with quickly, by launching a (some say self-serving) anti-corruption campaign and centralizing power to make himself the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong.

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USA / China / Japan Gross domestic product (GDP)

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Friday, 20 October 2017

Thursday, 19 October 2017

MRT tunnel flooding 'preventable, sad and unnecessary'

SCDF photos show knee-deep flood waters in tunnel between Braddell & Bishan MRT stations

The Singapore Civil Defence Force has been lauded by the public for working tirelessly through the night and day to bring North-South Line MRT services back on track.

New photos shared by SCDF showed their personnel at times in knee-high waters in the tunnel as they carried out their rescue operation of the MRT system.

The SCDF said they received a call for assistance at about 7pm on Saturday night after the tunnel between Braddell and Bishan became flooded with rainwater.

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SMRT maintenance team at Bishan 'failed us' during NSL disruption: Khaw Boon Wan
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan addresses reporters at a media briefing on the North-South Line disruption of 7 October, on Monday, 16 Oc, 2017. PHOTO: Dhany Osman/Yahoo News Singapore

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan lambasted the SMRT personnel in charge of anti-flooding measures at Bishan MRT, even as he apologised for the massive North-South Line disruption earlier this month that affected some 250,000 commuters.

“The incident on the evening of October 7 was preventable … We are all sorry that it did. (But) if you ask me, it’s too embarrassing to even talk about it. It is so simple that it should not have happened…yin gou li fan chuan,” said Khaw, using a Chinese proverb that means failing at a simple task.

“That’s why we have to nail down who (is) responsible. I look to SMRT to do what is right …something must happen to the staff.”

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Khaw Boon Wan apologises for tunnel flooding. Calls incident 'preventable', 'sad and unnecessary'

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan & SMRT bigwigs yesterday apologised for the MRT tunnel flooding incident that led to a 20-hr train disruption affecting more than a quarter of a million commuters

Addressing the Oct 7 weekend incident for the first time, Mr Khaw said at a media briefing in Bishan depot: "The bottomline is MRT tunnels should not be flooded, full stop." He later added: "The SMRT team in charge of maintaining the anti-flood system at Bishan has failed us."

Calling the incident "preventable" & "sad & unnecessary", Mr Khaw acknowledged that it has affected public confidence in SMRT. "It should not have happened. We are all sorry that it did," he added.

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SMRT replaces senior staff days after 20-hour NSL disruption: Internal memo
SMRT replaces senior staff days after 20-hour NSL disruption: Internal memo
The crowd of commuters waiting for free shuttle buses at the bus stop opposite Bishan MRT station after train services from Ang Mo Kio to Marina South Pier were suspended on Oct 7, 2017. Foto: Najeer Yusof/TODAY

Rail operator SMRT has replaced a senior staff member involved in maintenance, according to an internal memo on Thursday (Oct 12).

This came hours after the publication of a news report which blamed inadequate maintenance of a water-pumping system for the tunnel flooding that disrupted train services for more than 20 hrs on the North-South Line (NSL) last weekend.


Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao, which broke the news, added that SMRT staff overseeing equipment maintenance could be transferred out of their posts for failing in their duties.

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Bishan maintenance team leader removed; staff bonuses affected
SMRT chairman Seah Moon Ming at a dialogue on Oct 16 about a flooding incident in MRT tunnels

The leader of a team in charge of anti-flooding maintenance was removed & the bonuses of the team's members will be affected, SMRT chairman Seah Moon Ming said on Monday (Oct 16) at a dialogue on train disruptions caused by a flooding incident.

"When the incident occurred, I decided to remove the team leader immediately. I think the team members' bonuses will be affected," Mr Seah said, adding that their bosses' bonuses will also be impacted.

"Today we show that we take full responsibility of the failure & we definitely take full responsibility for the transport services we provide," he said. Mr Seah added: "If the thing fails, due to whatever reason, you take responsibility ... that's the message to each & everyone in SMRT."

read more

15 Quotes From Transport Bigwigs At SMRT’s Post-Flood Press Conference

It has been a long time coming, but SMRT leaders have finally step forward to apologize for the ever-reliable train faults that have continuously occurred throughout the year.

In a dialogue session with the media, Ministry for Transport Khaw Boon Wan, SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek and SMRT Chairman Seah Moon Ming addressed the company’s failure to prevent the recent flooding at Bishan MRT on 7 Oct. The flooding was one of the biggest train faults this year, and disrupted services for nearly 20 hours.

Except, their press conference was more of a bungled apology. Let’s take a look at what the bigwigs said.

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Netizens savagely rip apart Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and SMRT CEO’s apologies

Trasnport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and SMRT’s top brass – SMRT CEO Desmond Quek and SMRT Corporation and SMRT Trains chairman Seah Moon Ming – finally addressed the tunnel flooding incident that caused a massive North-South Line (NSL) breakdown two weeks ago.

In the country’s first train disruption due to flooding, six stations were shut down – affecting a quarter of a million commuters. The Minister, Quek and Seah apologised to the public in a press conference yesterday evening.

Khaw blamed the flooding on poor maintenance, explaining that the “anti-flooding system there was poorly maintained” and caused rainwater to accumulate.

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Minister Khaw Boon Wan: SMRT has failed us

At a joint Land Transport Authority and SMRT press conference today (Oct 16), Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan defended himself against all criticisms over the recent train tunnel flooding by pushing all blame to SMRT:
“The Saturday incident, (on) October 7 evening, was sad and unnecessary – but preventable. It should not have happened. We are all sorry that it did … Our findings is that the anti-flooding system there had been poorly maintained… The SMRT team in charge of maintaining the anti-flood system at Bishan has failed us. Basically, MRT tunnels are designed to handle our weather, and can cope with very extreme storms, far more severe than what we experienced in the last two weeks… (The) bottomline is that MRT tunnels should not be flooded. Full stop.”
Joining S$1.1 million-a-year Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan are the two ex-military men SMRT CEOs Desmond Kuek and Lee Ling Wee who each took S$1.8 million last year, the trio staged a fake apology without volunteering a resignation or pay cut.

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MRT tunnel flooding: How it happened

Investigations after the Oct 7 incident found that a storm water pit in the tunnel between Bishan & Braddell MRT stations - designed to collect and pump out rainwater - was likely close to full before the recent flooding incident.

It was also found that due to the maintenance lapse, sludge & debris had accumulated in the lower compartment of the water pit, which could have affected the operational capabilities of pumps & float switches. They were to be inspected & maintained last month, but this was postponed as the maintenance team claimed it could not get a slot for track access during engineering hours.

The failure of the float switches resulted in water flooding the tunnel between Bishan station & the underground Braddell station. The water had to be manually pumped out through the night, with help from the Singapore Civil Defence Force and PUB.

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Commission inquiry MUST be held to ascertain reason of flooding in SMRT train tunnel

Yesterday late afternoon, transport operator SMRT announced that the train service between Bishan and Toa Payoh stations along North-South Line was interrupted due to a track fault.

At first, people assumed it to be the usual train fault that they are faced with on a day-to-day basis. But subsequent media reports revealed that there is flooding in the NSL train tunnel.
Photos of the flooding in tunnel were shared on social media, some widely spread such as the ones posted by Gilbert Goh, founder of Transitioning.org and Singapore's well-known organiser of protests at Hong Lim Park.

It was only till this morning that SMRT made the announcement on its social media channel, 12 hours after the first announcement of track fault, that the actual reason for the disruption is due to flooding in its train tunnel.

read more

NSL train disruption: Malfunctioning water pump system to blame for flooded tunnel
NSL train disruption: Malfunctioning water pump system to blame for flooded tunnel
A malfunctioning water pumping system allowed rain water to build up in the train tunnel near Bishan MRT station, which resulted in a massive disruption along the North South Line (NSL) at the weekend. Foto: SCDF

A water pumping system that broke down was to blame for the MRT underground tunnel flooding that completely shut down train services along 6 stations on the North-South Line (NSL) from Saturday evening to Sunday (Oct 8) afternoon, affecting thousands of commuters in one of the worst outages since 2011.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) revealed this in an update Sunday evening, although it said it was still looking into how this had happened. Details on when the water pumping system, which should have siphoned off rainwater buildup in an adjacent sump pit, was last maintained were not given.

The malfunction allowed water to overflow from the storm water sump pit during a torrential downpour on Saturday afternoon, & enter the tunnel through the rail tracks where trains from Bishan MRT station go underground towards Braddell MRT station.

read more

SMRT apologises for North-South line disruption in October, resolves to do better
SMRT’s top management apologises for the 7-8 Oct 2017 disruption on the North-South Line at a media briefing on 16 October 2017 at Bishan Depot. (From left to right): SMRT Corporation CEO Desmond Kuek, SMRT Trains CEO Lee Ling Wee, SMRT Corporation & SMRT Trains Chairman Seah Moon Ming. Foto: Dhany Osman/Yahoo News Singapore

Train operator SMRT apologised to members of the public on Monday (16 Oct) for the breakdown on the North-South Line earlier this month, saying that it is determined to learn the lessons from the incident.

The apology by top SMRT management at a media briefing at Bishan Depot comes slightly over a week after services on the Line were disrupted for about 20 hours from 7 to 8 October following flooding in an MRT tunnel.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, senior management from the Land Transport Authority, representatives from the Public Transport Council & Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport were also present at the briefing.

read more

SMRT apologizes for train tunnel flooding, transport minister blames maintenance staff who failed to do their jobs

SMRT’s head honchos have finally spoken out about one of the worst train service disruptions in the country (a tunnel was actually flooded), and surprise, surprise, they’re not deflecting the blame.

In fact, SMRT’s president and group chief executive officer Desmond Kuek took full responsibility for the 20-hour service disruption on the North-South Line (NSL) on Oct 7. Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan didn’t find fault with media coverage this time, and blamed SMRT’s maintenance team for failing commuters.

Two weekends ago, about 250,000 commuters were left stranded on a stormy Saturday afternoon when train services ground to a halt on practically half the NSL. A portion of the train tunnel between Braddell and Bishan MRT stations were flooded due to the downpour, and a small fire occurred in the tunnel between Marina Bay and Raffles Place MRT stations shortly after. The incidents started around 5:33pm on Saturday, and it was only at 1:50pm the next day that all NSL services were fully restored.

read more

Khaw apologises for tunnel flooding
Tunnel flooding that led to 20-hr service disruption on North-South Line 'preventable', caused by maintenance lapse

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan & SMRT bigwigs yesterday apologised for the MRT tunnel flooding incident that led to a 20-hr train disruption affecting more than a quarter of a million commuters.

Addressing the Oct 7 weekend incident for the first time, Mr Khaw said at a media briefing in Bishan depot: "The bottomline is MRT tunnels should not be flooded, full stop."

He later added: "The SMRT team in charge of maintaining the anti-flood system at Bishan has failed us."

read more

SDP Calls For Khaw Boon Wan To Step Down, Accuses Him Of Avoiding Responsibility

Singapore Democratic Party Rips Into Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan In A Scathing Blog Post.

In a scathing, pull-no-punches blog post on Wednesday (18 Oct), the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) blasted Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan for his incompetence and called for him to step down from his post.

This comes after the recent dialogue session that took place earlier on Monday (16 Oct) which addressed the flooding of the MRT tunnels which resulted in a 20-hour delay.

read more

SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek breaks silence, addresses public

The last time we heard from SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek was on September 15, when he was quoted about his company winning a tender to operate the Thomson-East Coast Line.

In the month that has followed, we can’t even keep track of the number of MRT service disruptions, delays and breakdowns we’ve seen. But not a word from him.

Not till now. Finally, the man we’ve all been longing to hear from has spoken.

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Desmond Kuek vs Floods: A long running feud

SMRT President and Group CEO Desmond Kuek has a long and impressive resume. A career soldier before he joined the civil service, he served as the Chief of Army and the Chief of Defence Force.

But maybe it’s a good thing he stuck to soldiering on land and never joined the Navy, because he seems to have had terrible luck when it comes to water.
An inauspicious start:
  • Kuek left the Singapore Armed Forces and was appointed Permanent Secretary of the Ministry for Environment and Water Resources, with effect from 1st July 2010.
  • On the exact same day he took up his new post, heavy rains caused a flash flood at MacPherson Road and Tai Seng Drive.
  • This would not be the last time that Kuek would battle floods in his new role. A few days later on 17 July 2010, a torrential downpour triggered flash floods in various parts of Singapore.
  • Among the areas affected were Braddell Road, Changi Road, and Bukit Timah, where the floodwaters even submerged cars parked in condominium basements.

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How much time does SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek need to change the company’s culture?

In the span of time between the flood of the North-South line on Oct. 7 and the press conference on Oct. 16, neither Kuek nor anyone SMRT commented on the cause of the flood, or the recovery work being done.

Kuek appeared after nine days, but it was together with a praetorian guard of other men, including SMRT Chairman Seah Moon Ming, SMRT CEO (Trains) Lee Ling Wee, LTA Chief Executive Ngien Hoon Ping, and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan.

Yes, Kuek, together with Khaw and Seah apologised. But it was Seah, who recently became chairman this year, and has a non-executive role in the company, who bowed in apology.

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Bottomline is that MRT tunnels should not be flooded

According to LTA, it was a combination of factors. First, the authority explained the systems in place that prevent tunnels from getting flooded:
  • Large stormwater pits collect excess rainwater before they can flow into the tunnel entrances. The stormwater pit at Bishan has the capacity of about two Olympic-sized swimming pools and can contain about six hours of continuous heavy rain.
  • The stormwater pits are equipped with multiple pumps that siphon water to an external drainage system. These pumps are controlled by a series of sensors (also known as float switches), which automatically turn the pumps on when water reaches specified levels. Should water rise to a critically high level, a separate “alarm” switch (“high water level” switch) would trigger an alarm at the Operations Control Centre (OCC). This would alert duty officers, who can then investigate the cause of the alarm and activate additional measures if necessary.
But as Khaw pointed out, the water reservoir “had not been maintained properly”. Even before the incident, the pumping system was found to be faulty, in addition to accumulated sludge and debris in the lower compartment of the water pit that could have impeded the operations of the pumping system. Thus, water accumulated in the pit and overflowed in the tunnels.

“It’s so simple that it should not have happened … It’s as embarrassing as that,” the transport minister stated.

read more

NSL disruption: Malfunctioning water pumping system resulted in flooded MRT tunnel, says LTA
Related image

A water pumping system malfunction led to the flooding of the MRT tunnel between Bishan & Braddell stations and the delay of train services on the North-South Line (NSL), according to a statement by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Sunday (Oct 8).

A torrential downpour caused a section of the tunnel between the 2 stations to be flooded on Saturday afternoon, halting service on half the NSL - from Ang Mo Kio to Marina South Pier - for more than 3 hours.

Train services in both directions were suspended between Ang Mo Kio & Newton MRT stations for almost 20 hours before they resumed at 1.50pm on Sunday.

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SMRT Re-Deploys Maintenance Vice-President Following Historic Flooding of North-South Line Tunnel
redwire-singapore-smrt-train-flood

SMRT has re-deployed vice-president of maintenance, Ng Tek Poo, following Saturday’s flooding of a tunnel in the North-South Line.

It’s unclear, however, which position Mr Ng has been re-deployed to.

Director of station operations Siu Yow Wee (pictured below) has be appointed director of Building and Services and will take over Ng’s role, reporting directly to the senior vice-president of Maintenance and Engineering.

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Water pumping system malfunction at Bishan MRT station caused tunnel to flood

A malfunction in the water pumping system at Bishan station caused water to collect in the MRT tunnel, leading to train service disruption along the affected stretch of North-South Line on Saturday that lasted close to 21 hours. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said that preliminary investigations showed that water had entered the tunnel through the portal opening near Bishan MRT station, where above ground rail tracks transit underground, after a torrential downpour.

Under normal circumstances, rainwater runoff accumulated in the adjacent storm water sump pit would have been siphoned off by a system of pumps.

"Yesterday, the water pumping system malfunctioned, resulting in rainwater overflowing from the storm water sump pit into the tunnel opening and accumulating at the lowest point of the tunnel, between Bishan and Braddell stations," said an LTA spokesman.

read more

Transport Minister: DTL open house disruption 'bad luck'
Transport Minister: DTL open house disruption 'bad luck'
A train fault near Hillview station affected services from about 12.40pm on Sunday. Service was suspended between Bukit Panjang & Beauty World stations on Downtown Line 2 (DTL2). Service on DTL3, due to open this Saturday, was also affected.The Downtown Line is operated by SBS Transit. FOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

The Downtown Line (DTL) disruption on Sunday that dampened the mood of the DTL3 open house was "bad luck", Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said yesterday.

Responding to media questions during a press briefing on the tunnel flooding on Oct 7, he said he hoped commuters realise that "delays happen".

"Sometimes things will happen, but then it happens on when we were having our open house, then that is bad luck," he said.

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Citizens take issues with Transport Minister’s statement on maintenance lapses of SMRT
 

In a Channel NewsAsia report dated 16 October (Monday), it is reported that Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan made his first public address on the major North-South Line (NSL) tunnel flooding incident two weekends ago and stated that the SMRT maintenance team in charge of the anti-flood system at Bishan station had "failed us".

On 7 October (Saturday), train services on the North-South line were affected by flooding in the tunnel from Bishan to Braddell MRT stations. SMRT had to cut off trackside power supply as a safety precaution, causing service on six stops across the NSL to be disabled for about 20 hours. More than a quarter of a million commuters were affected in the country’s first disruption due to flooding and making it one of SMRT’s worst breakdowns in recent history.

Mr Khaw stated that the incident was "sad and unnecessary", however, preventable and should not have happened. He said, "We are all sorry it did. Whatever follow-up action which needs to be done, has already started. Nothing has been covered up. The incident has pushed back the recovery of public confidence in us."

read more

Netizens savagely rip apart Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan & SMRT CEO’s apologies

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Apology by SMRT’s leaders: Better late than never

The much-awaited public apology from the SMRT’s group chief executive officer (CEO) finally happened. Better late than never.

The flooding incident at the MRT tunnel was perhaps the straw that broke the camel’s back.

It takes courage to admit mistakes & acknowledge shortfalls within the organisation that one is heading. I firmly believe that such an act is the first sincere step towards effective corrective actions.

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Disappointing that maintenance team at SMRT took the blame

I was disappointed that the maintenance team at Bishan MRT Station took the heat for the latest breakdown in service along the North-South Line run by SMRT. I was even more disappointed to learn that the authorities may not issue a heavy penalty to send a clear signal to SMRT & its shareholders, to get them to set timelines to fix the systemic issues.

In order for the SMRT maintenance team to learn its lesson, it seems hundreds of thousands of commuters had to pay a “fee” for their lesson as well. The last thing we want is to blame the team for a culture that the company created over the decades & then failed to address in the last 5 years since it got a new group chief executive officer.

5 years is a long time for self-examination. SMRT simply blamed its issues on a maintenance crew rather than look at its management team and how it sets the company’s priorities. Going after the cog when the wheel needs a major overhaul is really pointless.

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Sad to see maintenance team being blamed

I am saddened that Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan put the blame of the recent train breakdown solely on workers involved in maintenance.

What about the lack of planning & foresight at the top management level? When things go wrong, people in the lower ranks are the 1st to face the music. This will definitely affect the maintenance team’s morale.

Top executives & officers in the civil service are paid to answer to the public & to oversee and foresee potential problems, not to blame their subordinates when things go wrong. You would not see a blaming culture like this in Japan, where top management will admit their fault publicly & resign.

read more
Full Coverage:
Apology a 'turning point' for SMRT, workers' morale a concern, experts say
SMRT maintenance staff bonuses will be affected following system failure
KBW apologises tunnel flooding Calls incident 'preventable, sad & unnecessary'
Apology a 'turning point' for SMRT, workers' morale a concern, experts say
SMRT maintenance staff bonuses will be affected following system failure
Minister apologizes tunnel flooding, blames maintenance failed to do their jobs
Netizens savagely rip apart Minister KBW and SMRT CEO's apologies
SMRT, LTA have to get to root of the problem
SMRT apologises for N-S line disruption in October, resolves to do better
KBW apologises for flooding, SMRT's Bishan maintenance team 'has failed us'
SMRT takes 'full responsibility' for tunnel flooding, says CEO Desmond Kuek
Transport Minister: DTL open house disruption 'bad luck'
Tunnel flooding: Bishan maintenance team leader removed,staff bonuses affected
SMRT team in charge of maintaining anti-flood system at Bishan has failed us'
MRT tunnel flooding: SMRT maintenance staff bonuses will be affected
SMRT maintenance team at Bishan 'failed us' during NSL disruption: KBW
'Old system' penalties fines led to adversarial relationship bet regulator/operator
'Deep-seated cultural issues' partly to blame for train disruptions: SMRT CEO
SMRT takes 'full responsibility' for tunnel flooding, says CEO Desmond Kuek
Khaw Boon Wan on NSL flooding: SMRT maintenance team 'failed us'
Float switches at Bishan MRT faulty, bottom of water storage pit lined with sludge
SMRT apologises for North-South line disruption in October, resolves to do better
SMRT CEO: 'deep-seated cultural issues' behind history of service disruptions
Flooding in MRT tunnel preventable, says Khaw, Transport NewsNSL disruption
Malfunctioning water pumping system resulted in
Timeline of NSL disruption due to flooded MRT tunnel
Flooded MRT tunnel, trackside fire caused train disruption on NSL
rigorous' maintenance, remote monitoring system set up after flooding
NSL disruption: Flooded MRT tunnels cleared, train service resumes
NSL disruption: Faulty water pump flooded MRT tunnel
Flooding in MRT tunnel preventable, says Khaw
Khaw Boon Wan apologises for tunnel flooding. Calls incident
SMRT apologizes for train tunnel flooding, transport minister blames
Apology a 'turning point' for SMRT, workers' morale a concern
'More rigorous' maintenance, remote monitoring system set up after
SMRT steps up anti-flood checks, overhauls maintenance team
SMRT maintenance team at Bishan 'failed us' during NSL disruption
North-South Line flooding was preventable, SMRT team failed us
NSL disruption: Malfunctioning water pumping system resulted in
NSL disruption: Water pumping system malfunction at Bishan MRT
North-South Line disruption: Faulty water pump flooded MRT tunnel
Pumps at all MRT tunnels checked after rail disruption
More questions than answers from flooding incident on MRT line
Flooding in MRT tunnels: Not enough answers, assurance from
Straits Times forum letter lays smackdown on SMRT & LTA for not
SMRT replaces maintenance VP after flooding incident on North
SMRT maintenance Vice-President replaced, news source reports
Dig deep to solve problem of flooded tunnels
Vivian Balakrishnan takes Khaw Boon Wan's place to show support
SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek breaks silence, addresses public
Rethink track work with long-term efficiency in mind
SMRT restores train services on NSL after flooded tunnels cause disruption
Bishan, Braddell MRT stations among 35 flood-proofed in recent years
Flooded tunnels in NSL: Commuters fear a repeat during work week
Bonuses for team at fault 'will be affected'
SMRT, LTA have to get to root of the problem
SMRT replaces senior exec after flooding incident
Straits Times forum letter lays smackdown on SMRT & LTA for not
ST Forum letter criticising LTA excuses on MRT breakdowns
'Cultural issues' don't just involve maintenance team
Best for SMRT to be run wholly by the Government
SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek breaks silence, addresses public
MRT tunnel flooding: SMRT maintenance staff bonuses affected
Khaw apologises for NSL flooding, says SMRT's Bishan
KBW on NSL flooding: SMRT maintenance team 'failed us'
SMRT, LTA have to get to root of the problem
SMRT maintenance staff bonuses will be affected following system
Khaw: SMRT team 'failed us'
MRT tunnel flooding: Bishan maintenance team leader removed
SMRT apologizes for train tunnel flooding, transport minister blames
Apology a 'turning point' for SMRT, workers' morale a concern
Bishan maintenance team leader removed; staff bonuses affected
SMRT maintenance staff bonuses will be affected following system failure
Transport minister blames maintenance staff who failed to do their jobs
Apology by SMRT's leaders: Better late than never
Flooding in MRT tunnel preventable, says Khaw
KBW apologises, Calls incident 'preventable', 'sad and unnecessary'
Sad to see maintenance team being blamed

Transport Minister: Flooding of tunnel 'preventable', 'sad and unnecessary'. SMRT's Bishan maintenance team 'Has Failed Us'

Taiwan Minister resigned over 5-hour massive blackout

Koh Dong-jin, president of Samsung Electronics Mobile Communications Business, bows during a news conference in Seoul, South Korea

Kobe Steel Chairman and President Hiroya Kawasaki, left, apologizes over the company's falsification of inspection data at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on Wednesday

In Japan, the chairman and CEO would call a press conference, take a deep bow and, in the good old days, they may even commit hara-kiri

Netizens savagely rip apart Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and SMRT CEO’s apologies

Youtube: Hara Kiri - Khaw Boon Wan

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8 religious leaders “pray” for new train line
Navy fires commander of 7th Fleet after deadly USS McCain collision
Fresh round of signalling fault delays hit NSL & DTL
MRT gets more reliable despite rise in breakdowns
MRT hit by delays again due to signalling fault
MRT disruptions caused by signalling faults
Rise in major breakdowns but MRT gets more reliable
Train disruptions under new Minister of Transport
Train service disrupted on N-S, E-W Lines
Recap of recent Train service disruptions
Recent Train Disruptions
Two SMRTstaff killed by an oncoming train
Transport Woes #2
Transport Woes #1
Transport Woes - A Picture Story
Mixed Reactions To Announcement Of Free MRT Rides
Strange & inappropriate behaviour on public transport
Burned by mystery liquid in trains and bus stop
SMRT subway trains recalled after defects found