Singapore

PM Lee: Khaw is 'ideal candidate' for Transport Minister

PM announces Cabinet reshuffle, Mr Khaw to be new Transport Minister

Sembawang Park might have a new "resident" after yesterday's Cabinet reshuffle at the Istana.

Mr Khaw Boon Wan had volunteered for his current job in the Ministry of National Development (MND) and frequented the park whenever he was stressed over housing issues.

At last month's introduction of the Sembawang slate for the Sept 11 General Election, he shared with reporters that he would not volunteer for the Transport Minister portfolio vacated by Mr Lui Tuck Yew, even though many had linked him to the job then.

Said Mr Khaw then: "I think I have made enough trips to Sembawang Park. I cannot be camping there all day."

That changed yesterday when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced Mr Khaw's new appointment to the Ministry of Transport (MOT), said by political observers to be a hot seat after several consecutive ministers served only one term in the role.

To add to his challenges, Mr Khaw was also made the Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure, a newly created position which will oversee all infrastructure-related issues.

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam was appointed the Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies.

DPM Teo Chee Hean will remain as the Coordinating Minister for National Security. 

The Cabinet changes will take effect from Oct 1.

Said PM Lee of Mr Khaw's new posts: "We need to tie together closely the different aspects of urban planning and infrastructure provision - housing, commercial and industrial development, road and rail networks, even our IT infrastructure."

He later explained his decision in Mandarin: "When it comes to infrastructure, everyone knows that everyone has an opinion on it. If it is not perfect or has flaws, everyone can feel it immediately.

"This is an important issue, so I require Khaw's experience. With his experience in MND and now in MOT, I think he will be able to play a deeper role as a coordinating minister."

As to why Mr Khaw was assigned the Transport Minister role, PM Lee added: "There is an opportunity, there is a job to do and he is the ideal candidate for it."

SELFISH TO SAY NO

Mr Khaw said in his first blog post as the incoming Transport Minister: "If my term turns out to be a thankless job, the loss is personal. But if we succeed collectively in transforming the city, the benefits will go to millions of Singaporeans.

"In such a cost-benefit equation, I will be selfish to say 'no' to PM. I just hope that my heart, my own body train, can withstand the stress and do not break down."

He added that he did not volunteer for the job this time.

"If you volunteer once, then once is enough. One should not keep on volunteering because people will misunderstand."

The veteran minister is known for his ability to tackle prickly issues while helming the MND and the Health Ministry (MOH).

He was in the Government team during the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) crisis. After taking over the health portfolio in 2004, he was responsible for reforming MediShield and restoring public confidence in the charity sector after the National Kidney Foundation debacle.

When he was in MND, he was credited with cooling the runaway cost of private and public housing, and increasing the supply of HDB flats.

Said Singapore Management University law don Eugene Tan: "He's really in many ways your utility minister who can get the job done."

Associate Professor Tan believes this move is part of the Government's gearing up for a larger population in the future, while "capitalising" on Mr Khaw's abilities.

"With a very experienced minister who is also known to be able to make tough decisions, the stakeholders will know they are dealing with a heavyweight minister who will not pull his punches," he said.

Prof Tan anticipates that if Mr Khaw can get MOT on the right track, he may end up relinquishing his Transport Minister role and solely take on the coordinating minister's position.

Asked if he might retire midway through his term, Mr Khaw simply laughed.
Said the minister: "It is an important job, so obviously there is a hole that has to be filled. So when PM asked me to do so, I readily said yes."


KHAW BOON WAN, 62

CAREER SO FAR:

2004: Minister for Health

2011: Minister for National Development

NOW:

2015: Minister for Transport & Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure


If my term turns out to be a thankless job, the loss is personal. But if we succeed collectively in transforming the city, the benefits will go to millions of Singaporeans.

- Mr Khaw Boon Wan

 

Coordinating ministers' responsibilities

MINISTER KHAW BOON WAN Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure

The incoming Transport Minister will look after the different aspects of urban planning and infrastructure provision - housing, commercial and industrial development, road and rail networks, and even Singapore's IT infrastructure.

As Transport Minister, he has another major objective: to help Singaporeans move around with ease, whether it is on foot, bicycles, buses, trains or even driverless cars.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER TEO CHEE HEAN

Coordinating Minister for National Security

From a national security point of view, DPM Teo's focus will be on new challenges of terrorism.

He will also help PM Lee shape the agenda of the strategy group at the centre of Parliament, and support PM Lee and the other coordinating ministers.

His major responsibility, however, is to mentor the new team to help them succeed.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER THARMAN SHANMUGARATNAM

Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies

DPM Tharman will continue to strengthen economic and social policies, which have expanded in scope due to economic restructuring and SkillsFuture.

He will also be in continuous consultations with ministers on issues like how the Government can provide life incentives and what shake-out should be sent to the economy.

Like DPM Teo, he will also help guide and support the new team.

Ministers and Ministers of State

PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE

Ministers

  • Mr Lee Hsien Loong (Prime Minister)
  • Mr Teo Chee Hean (DPM and Coordinating Minister for National Security)
  • Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam (DPM and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies)
  • Mr Khaw Boon Wan (Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure)
  • Mr Chan Chun Sing (Minister, PMO)

Senior Ministers of State

  • Mr Heng Chee How
  • Mrs Josephine Teo

Minister of State

  • Mr Sam Tan Chin Siong

DEFENCE

Minister

  • Dr Ng Eng Hen

Senior Ministers of State

  • Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman
  • Mr Ong Ye Kung

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Minister

  • Dr Vivian Balakrishnan

Senior Ministers of State

  • Mrs Josephine Teo
  • Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman

HOME AFFAIRS

Minister

  • Mr K. Shanmugam

Senior Minister of State

  • Mr Desmond Lee

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Ministers

  • Mr Lim Hng Kiang (Trade)
  • Mr S. Iswaran (Industry)

Minister of State

  • Dr Koh Poh Koon (from 
January 2016)

FINANCE

Minister

  • Mr Heng Swee Keat

Senior Minister of State

  • Ms Indranee Rajah
  • Ms Sim Ann

MANPOWER

Minister

  • Mr Lim Swee Say

Ministers of State

  • Mr Teo Ser Luck
  • Mr Sam Tan Chin Siong

TRANSPORT

Minister

  • Mr Khaw Boon Wan

Senior Ministers of State

  • Mrs Josephine Teo
  • Mr Ng Chee Meng

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Minister

  • Mr Lawrence Wong

Senior Minister of State

  • Mr Desmond Lee

Minister of State

  • Dr Koh Poh Koon (from 
January 2016)

COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

Minister

  • Dr Yaacob Ibrahim

Ministers of State

  • Mr Chee Hong Tat
  • Dr Janil Puthucheary (from January 2016)

ENVIRONMENT AND WATER RESOURCES

Minister

  • Mr Masagos Zulkifli

Senior Minister of State

  • Dr Amy Khor

LAW

Minister

  • Mr K. Shanmugam

Senior Minister of State

  • Ms Indranee Rajah

HEALTH

Minister

  • Mr Gan Kim Yong

Senior Minister of State

  • Dr Amy Khor

Ministers of State:

  • Dr Lam Pin Min
  • Mr Chee Hong Tat

EDUCATION

Acting Ministers

  • Mr Ng Chee Meng (Schools)
  • Mr Ong Ye Kung (Higher Education and Skills)

Minister of State

  • Dr Janil Puthucheary (from January 2016)

SOCIAL AND FAMILY DEVELOPMENT

Minister

  • Mr Tan Chuan-Jin

CULTURE, COMMUNITY AND YOUTH

Minister

  • Ms Grace Fu Hai Yien

Senior Minister of State

  • Ms Sim Ann
Khaw Boon WantransportMinistry of TransportLee Hsien LoongUncategorised