Opening Remarks by Acting Minister for Transport, Mr Chee Hong Tat at the Public Transport Workers’ Appreciation Day and Launch of Caring Commuter Week

04 Nov 2023Speeches
Colleagues from the Public Transport Industry,
Brothers and Sisters from NTWU,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1.     A very good morning to all. Thank you for joining us today for the Public Transport Workers’ Appreciation Day and launch of the Caring Commuter Week 2023.

2.     Public transport is an integral part of the daily routine for millions of Singaporeans, and plays a crucial role in keeping our nation moving. I’m very happy to be joining all of you at this meaningful event to jointly celebrate the two reasons that make taking public transport a great experience – the dedicated public transport workers who keep our system running smoothly, and our fellow commuters who make our journeys more delightful.

Appreciating our public transport workers for their dedication in keeping Singapore moving 

3.     The accessible and reliable public transport system that we all enjoy today is only possible due to the hard work of our public transport workers (PT Workers). To recognise your contributions and the role you play in ensuring public transport runs smoothly, we have been coming together each year to celebrate Public Transport Workers’ Appreciation Day since 2017.

4.     Of course, our appreciation for PT workers is not just limited to one day a year. We are committed to working with tripartite partners, including public transport operators and the National Transport Workers' Union, to provide practical support for our PT workers. This includes improving working conditions and providing greater flexibility in work arrangements so that PT workers can balance work and their personal commitments. 

5.     One important priority is to provide opportunities for upskilling, to make jobs in the PT sector more rewarding for current PT workers, and more attractive to the next generation. For instance, as part of our transition towards a cleaner bus fleet, we will equip our Bus Captains and technicians with new skills to operate, troubleshoot and maintain electric buses. Not only will this keep our workers relevant, but it will also help us to maintain high service standards for commuters.

6.     Indeed, a capable and committed PT workforce is at the heart of our world class public transport system. Today, we recognise a number of exemplary PT workers: 

a.     Including those who help make every journey a joy, such as Ms Nur Irisha Mahira Bte Mohamad Zulkiflee, a SMRT Train Service Controller, who took the initiative to come up with an onboarding guide for new colleagues; and Ms Nicky Soh, a Bus Captain from Tower Transit Singapore, whose cheerful attitude brightens up the day for the passengers she serves. 

b.     As well as those who went beyond the call of duty, such as Mr Mohammed Yahya Bin Zainal Azman, a Senior Traffic Inspector from Go-Ahead Singapore, who helped an elderly lady reach her destination safely after noticing that she had gotten lost due to road closures; and Ms Kamalselvi Devaraj, a SBST Senior Assistant Station Manager, who helped to reunite an elderly man with Parkinson’s disease with his family. 

7.     These individuals, through their selfless acts, exemplify the spirit of service that sets our PT workers apart. Let their dedication be an inspiration for us all. 

Showing care to fellow commuters to create joyful rides for all

8.     At the same time, we are also celebrating the launch of Caring Commuter Week with an exciting carnival. Caring Commuter Week is an opportunity for commuters to learn more about how they can support others, and commit to fostering a more inclusive culture. This is how all of us can complement the work of our PT workers, to make every journey pleasant and safe for all on public transport. We can achieve this in three ways.

9.     First, we can lay a strong foundation by inculcating in our children the mindset to care for one another. Earlier this year, the Singapore Mobility Gallery and the Caring SG Commuters Committee organised a Children’s Art Competition, for children aged 7 to 12 to express how commuters can show care for others and become caring commuter heroes. I am happy to hear that over 800 entries were received, and I look forward to seeing some of these artworks later at the Carnival.

10.    Second, we can be more aware of those around us who may be in need, and take action to show care. I’m happy to know that this culture of mutual support is growing. This year marks the 5th edition of the Caring Commuter Awards, and we received 138 nominations in total, double of the previous year. 

11.    I would like to commend the recipients of The Richard Magnus Award for the Outstanding Caring Commuter, Mr Kelvin Tan and Mr Lee Wei Sheng, who stepped forward to assist a station staff member in performing CPR on a commuter until the paramedics arrived. 

12.    The stories of our award recipients inspire and remind us that our acts of care, however big or small, contribute to building a culture of care on our public transport system. All it takes is everyday gestures of kindness, like how Mdm Jazayah, one of the Commendation Award winners, helped reunite a little girl with her family after she missed her bus stop, to the relief of the family. 

13.    Finally, we can also serve as ambassadors by actively promoting the Caring Commuter movement within our communities.  To recognise those who have done so, we have introduced a new “Inspirers” category for our Caring Commuter Champions. 

a.     Award recipients in this new category include Mr Mark Gerard Minjoot and Mr Adrian Lim, who made the Caring Commuter Champion programme a "Values in Action” project at St Patrick’s School, to inculcate students with the importance of caring for others. 

b.     We also have Mr Alister Ong, Ms Jean Chua, and Mr Keane Phua, who have been strong supporters of the Caring Commuter Champion programme, inspiring others to come onboard and propel the movement forward.

14.    The Caring SG Commuter’s movement has grown from strength to strength over the years with the support of our partners. Earlier this year, together with our public transport operators, we expanded the Helping Hand Scheme to include two new messages – “This is a wheelchair”, for commuters using paediatric wheelchairs to alert others to give way to them, and “Please alert me when I am approaching my stop”, to make it easier for commuters with visual impairment or conditions such as dementia to request for assistance. 

15.    We also embarked on a pilot of the Travel Makers’ Programme, in partnership with MINDS and Youth Corps Singapore, to help students with intellectual disabilities to commute independently on public transport. I would like to thank our partners for the strong support in implementing various initiatives for more inclusive and joyful rides.

16.    All of us can make a difference to the journey of others. Building on the diligent work of our public transport workers, acts of kindness by our fellow commuters can be the “last mile” of a great commuting experience. Once again, allow me to thank all our public transport workers and caring commuters for making every journey delightful. 

17.    Thank you.

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