‘Mr Fix-it’ Khaw to chair new SPH media entity

Former Cabinet minister Khaw Boon Wan will chair the new entity set up after Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) restructures its media operations.

The move has been discussed with SPH's current management shareholders, who have agreed that Mr Khaw is the right choice, given the national importance of the task and scale of the challenge, Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said yesterday.

The entity will be a company limited by guarantee (CLG) and SPH's media business will come under its charge, although the restructuring is still subject to shareholder approval.

Such CLGs are typically formed to carry out non-profit-making activities that have some public or national interest.

Speaking in Parliament, Mr Iswaran said: "With his high standing and more than 25 years of public service experience in various senior appointments, Mr Khaw will be able to provide strong strategic leadership for the CLG."


He said Mr Khaw, who retired from politics last year after 19 years, and last served as coordinating minister for infrastructure and minister for transport, has agreed to be the chairman.

Contacted for his comments, Mr Khaw said yesterday that he accepted this "heavy responsibility" with some anxiety as he has no experience with digital media but will do his best to ensure the project succeeds.

"I will see how we can adapt relevant experiences from successful transformation elsewhere," he said.

Mr Khaw entered politics in 2001 and earned the moniker "Mr Fix-it" after tackling thorny issues across various ministries.

As senior minister of state for health, he contributed to Singapore's battle against the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak in 2003 and was made health minister the following year.

He moved to the National Development Ministry after the 2011 General Election, where housing affordability and supply came up as hot-button issues. There, he helped ramp up supply and increased subsidies for Housing Board flats.

In 2015, he was appointed transport minister and helped improve the reliability of the rail system, which had been plagued by service disruptions.

"I know my limitations and have started to read and consult widely. Fortunately, I know the breadth and depth of talents in SPH Media. My job is to support them to help realise their ambition," Mr Khaw said.

In his remarks in Parliament, Mr Iswaran said the success of the new company will be determined by three factors.

These are: strong leadership to set the organisation's strategic vision and execute transformation, a robust business strategy that can be sustained under the new structure with the requisite resources, and a strong and capable team of newsroom professionals who will maintain high standards.

This article first appeared in The Straits Times.