18 Years of Silence, 18 Years of Pain

By now, thousands of Singaporeans would have read the account of Gintai's termination from his SMRT Train Captain job. Gintai is a personal friend and had confided in me about his dismissal a few weeks ago. Yesterday, he finally decided to make it known publicly by writing his reflections on his blog. [link] Within hours, his post went viral, partly due to his shocking termination, partly due to the fact it was a comeback post from such a popular blogger before he decided to retire from blogging one year ago.

I read Gintai's painstakingly written appeal letter to the SMRT management which he sent me in private. It was professional, straight to the points, honest and sincere. I wonder if I will ever attain his level of writing skills. However, I have no doubt that the SMRT management will not consider his appeal. In fact they probably won't even bother to read it. I didn't tell my friend in case he still habour any hope in getting his job back. But since he decided to write his post, he had gotten over it by now.

Why am I so sure that SMRT will junk Gintai's appeal letter straight into the bin? Any company that decided to dismiss a loyal staff who served for 18 years because of technical errors during work would had pretty much made up their minds even before his official dismissal. They were only waiting for the chance and the right timing.

I'll like to take the opportunity to clear Gintai's name for I read some of the most nasty speculation from Singaporeans who didn't even know him personally. For example, one insinuated that Gintai was a chronic late-comer at work. That was far from truth. Not only he was ever-punctual for work, he went on a few years streak without taking a single day of MC from work. 18 years of punctuality, dedicate service with a record low count of medical leave taken. Tell me honestly, how many employees have you worked with who can boast of such statistics? Some of us are already tearing our hair out before the 10th year. Many of us can't even last 1.8 years in our jobs. There isn't a point discussing what Gintai did that warranted his dismissal. Let's just say in his situation, he would be dismissed even if he pat a stray rabbit that turned up uninvited at the train drivers' smoking corner.

Like many others, I think sacking a staff like Gintai was a loss to the SMRT. A man of his dedication can be used to do much more for the organisation. The organisation was uncomfortable with his blogging (that's a catalyst but not the reason why he was dismissed) but failed to recognize that the man was dedicated, even obsessed, about his job to start a blog on it. Heck, most of us don't even want to talk about our work the moment knock off, much less write a whole blog about it. Over the years knowing him, I assure you it is not an exaggeration to say his passion for the job is unparalleled, with due respect to other SMRT drivers in Singapore. He literally ate, drank and breathed trains. If SMRT team was actually SMART (alas they are missing an 'A' for asshole who has been invited to turn the organisation into his personally army), they should had milked Gintai to death by making good use of his popularity to boost its ailing image to the public instead of feeling insecure about their driver telling the whole Singapore what they already know.

Gintai's mentor, the esteemed Dr Loh [link], warned Gintai of the consequences of posting about his dismissal because that will be dire to his chances of getting his next job. Sadly I agree with Dr Loh but I sincerely hope it will open up some unexpected doors for him instead.  All the best to you my friend.

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