Former Minister for National Development (MND) Khaw Boon Wan has been appointed to take the hot seat, the Transport Minister position, according to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s revelation of the new cabinet today (Sep 28). However at his maiden speech as Transport Minister, Khaw Boon Wan mocked Hongkong’s public transport to defend Singapore’s train breakdowns.

Screenshot of Khaw Boon Wan from CNA video
Screenshot of Khaw Boon Wan from CNA video

But in terms of reliability, we are not quite there yet. So the last few week, I asked…who do you think (has) the best (public transport) in the world? And everybody poit me to Hongkong. So I check around and compare with Hongkong, yes we still have a gap, its too close. We have made a lot of improvements in the last 2, 3 years but the gap remains and we will aggressively push to close the gap…

I was at first hoping that in Hongkong that they never have disruptions. Fortunately, I was very depressed when I read that they also have major disruptions. In last year they have 12 major disruptions which means one disruption a month. And that is the “best” in class.

Let’s be realistic about such a complex system – it’s not rocket science but also not straightforward. There will be fires big and small but I hope to get Singaporeans’ understanding and patience”

The Transport Minister position has been the most precarious by far, which saw the resignation of its last bearer, Lui Tuck Yew, and the demotion of his predecessor, Raymond Lim. This is largely attributed to the failures of privatised public transport operators, SMRT and SBS, who failed to uphold a decent standard of maintenance regime for public trains and buses. To worsen the matter, both SMRT and SBS take home record profits every year and yet the Transport Minister still approves their request for fare hike every occasion without fail.

The new MND Minister will be Lawrence Wong, the former Minister of Culture, Community and Youth.