Former SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek leaves UBS for Temasek Trust

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SINGAPORE — Banker and former head of SMRT Desmond Kuek will join Temasek Trust, the philanthropic arm of state-owned investment firm Temasek, as chief executive from January next year, Temasek Trust has confirmed.

He is currently working at the Swiss private bank UBS, which he joined in February 2019 as head of sustainable finance for the Asia-Pacific region.

He is also the global head of the bank’s sustainable finance group, where he supports the implementation of the sustainability and impact strategy across the business.

At UBS Singapore, Mr. Kuek chairs the UBS Optimus Foundation, which provides clients with a platform to use their wealth to drive social and environmental change by making grants to programs related to health, education and protection of children, as well as those who attack the environment and the climate. problems.

Asked about his time there, the 59-year-old paid tribute to the bank’s strong collaborative culture.

He said he was looking forward to starting at Temasek Trust, where he will be part of a team that seeks to advance philanthropy as a force for good.

Mr. Edmund Koh, President of UBS Asia-Pacific, said the bank hopes to work with Mr. Kuek and Temasek Trust on future opportunities to advance sustainable outcomes for the wider community.

Prior to UBS, Mr. Kuek was CEO of transport operator SMRT for 5.5 years, from October 2012 to April 2018.

It faced several crises during the period, including a power outage during the evening rush hour in July 2015 that caused massive disruptions on SMRT’s North-South and East-West lines.

The deaths of two SMRT maintenance staff, who were hit by an oncoming train while on their way to inspect faulty equipment at MRT Pasir Ris station in 2016, and the flooding of railway tunnels near Bishan MRT station due to lack of maintenance of flood prevention measures in 2017, also took place under his leadership.

SMRT has achieved several milestones during his tenure – he was involved in the privatization of the transport operator, which was delisted from the Singapore stock exchange in October 2016, and was part of the team that rebuilt the reliability of the North-South and East-West lines .

Both lines were Singapore’s oldest MRT lines and required more regular maintenance work, as major disruptions in 2015 showed.

It was under Mr. Kuek’s leadership that a new railway financing framework was put in place in 2016, under which the government took over ownership of all railway assets, allowing for faster replacement of these assets. to minimize major breakdowns.

Mr. Kuek also overhauled the entire rail system, including the third rail, which supplies trains with electricity, and the signaling system, which allows trains to run closer to each other.

The measures improved SMRT’s reliability in fiscal year 2018 – the East-West line saw improvement, with mean kilometers between failures (MKBF) increasing to 171,000 km from 151,400 km the previous year.

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