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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Flyer GM quits

IN A shock move, Singapore Flyer general manager Steven Yeo - the public face of the attraction since the Dec 23 incident which left 173 people trapped on the giant observation wheel for six hours - has resigned.

He tendered his resignation on Monday, giving six months' notice.

But Flyer management told him to go immediately, and by yesterday afternoon, he had cleared out his desk.

His sudden exit was among several signs of tension among the Flyer's top management.

Contacted last night, Mr Yeo declined to go into the details of his departure.

'I have no further comment as I would rather deal with the matter privately with Flyer management,' he said.

When asked about his resignation and the reasons for it, Singapore Flyer management would only confirm that he was gone.

But, according to Mr Yeo's resignation letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Straits Times, he quit over differences with his bosses and alleged breaches of his terms of employment.

Mr Yeo, 46, was previously general secretary of the Football Association of Singapore and deputy chief executive officer of the Singapore Sports Council.

In his resignation letter, he said he had joined the Flyer on the understanding that as general manager, he would hold 'the most senior management position and would be responsible for all operating functions'.

But, a week before the Flyer incident, company chairman Florian Bollen decided to form an executive committee and have Mr Yeo report to it. That, Mr Yeo alleged in his letter, had 'negated' his role.

The result, he wrote, was that he was confined to 'micro management'.

The Straits Times also learnt yesterday of tensions within the Flyer's four-man board of directors, who comprise Mr Bollen, Mr Joerg Loewejohann, Mr Peter Purcell and Mr Thomas Bone Winkel.

Mr Bollen and Mr Purcell are Singapore permanent residents, while the other two are Germans.

Mr Purcell told The Straits Times that he had had frequent disagreements with Mr Bollen on various matters concerning how the business was run. He declined to go into further detail.

When asked about tension at the top, a company spokesman said last night: 'There have been minority opinions from time to time, but the board has a majority of support.

'In any matter of discussion, a difference of opinions is quite natural. There are disagreements, but in no particular areas.'

Pressed to elaborate, he said the matters were confidential.

Meanwhile, The Straits Times understands that questions have also been raised about the Flyer's financial health.

A report prepared recently for one of banks linked to the Flyer questioned its ability to meet expected revenue projections, among other things.

But the Flyer spokesman said the company had rejected the report.

He admitted that the attraction had been hit badly by the shutdown since the Dec 23 incident, as that meant missing what would have been a busy Christmas and New Year period.

But, he added: 'We are absolutely financially stable.

'We suffered because the Christmas sales were not there. It was a major blow for us, to be very frank about it, but we are insured against the loss of revenue.'

A fire in the control room caused the giant observation wheel to stop turning on Dec 23. The incident led to a police-mandated shutdown.

Two weeks into the closure, tenants at the Flyer complex are anxious about when it will reopen, and whether visitors will return.

The company spokesman would only say last night that initial investigations had been done and the company had come up with technical solutions which would be presented to the authorities today.

It hoped an announcement would be made by the end of the week, he added.


Harmony said...

He should quit seriously, to avoid more troubles brewing in the later stages.

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