What Khaw Boon Wan said about becoming Transport Minister after he "readily said Yes"

Yes indeed, Minister, there *is* a gap in our rail system.

Jeanette Tan| September 28, 06:27 PM

So folks, our prediction has come true, and Minister Khaw Boon Wan has stepped up to the Transport portfolio.

The next thing we want to know, then, is perhaps "What was he thinking?!" or "What did he say?"

Since we weren't invited to the press conference unveiling the new cabinet, we bring you his response based on what the others reported.

Here's 938Live's recording of Khaw's response to being sent over to that ministry:

PM Lee asked me to be the next Transport Minister, I readily said yes." Incoming Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan stresses that he's ready to contribute to the vision of making Singapore a city where people can travel by foot, bicycles and the public transport with ease, and in a car only occasionally, if need be. bit.ly/1VieYk4

Posted by 938LIVE on Monday, 28 September 2015

And here's what he said, in case you couldn't watch the video:

The question was did I volunteer? And I made a point that yeah, I think if you volunteer once, that's enough. You should not keep on volunteering, you know — people will misunderstand, you know, what are you trying to prove? But it's 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.

And also because I'm driven by this larger objective that I genuinely believe that Singapore, we can be a city where people move around with ease — walking, cycling, very reliable extensive public transport, and then occasionally, if need be, in a car — and with technology, (a) driverless car is highly possible within the next ten years.

So that is the larger objective which I myself firmly believe in. And if I can make a contribution towards that direction, I intend to do so. So that requires two or three pieces: one is infrastructure, and therefore PM asking me to be the coordinator in infrastructure I think turned out to be very good, because that allows me to link up URA, MND, together with transport, and secondly, a key requirement of course is that your rail system must be reliable, and we still have a gap, and we definitely want to close the gap with the best in class.

But I stress the point just now that even with the best in class, that is in Hong Kong, they do face disruptions, major disruptions, and last year they were talking about something like 12 a year, which is practically once a month. So we have one disruption in July 7, two and a half months have passed, when is the next disruption?

So I'm reminded of our Home Team's slogan — low crime does not mean no crime. We will do our very best to make sure as a stretch target, let us ensure there is no disruption, but unfortunately, disruption may still happen. Each time it happens, let's get to the bottom of it, find out what is the new unknown, fix it so there will be no more repeat, that kind of a problem.

Not bad, Khaw — looks like you're starting your new term on new footing, saying all the right things too.

This hearkens us back to what Khaw told The New Paper recently:

But Mr Khaw said he spent "many hours" walking in Sembawang Park to de-stress and to think about solutions to housing problems.

Asked if he would volunteer for the transport portfolio, Mr Khaw said no.

"I think I've made enough trips to Sembawang Park, I cannot be camping there all day," he said with a laugh.

Later Monday evening, we realised Khaw has been pretty busy penning his final thoughts onto his National Development ministry blog, as well as to a brand-new one started for his new ministry! (So hardkhaw.)

His parting words for the MND were, "The hot housing market is soft-landing nicely." And also, "I hope I do not have to camp overnight at Sembawang Park. :)".

And from the first post on his spanking new MOT blog:

MRT is not a new science and there are good, tested engineering solutions available. If we pool our knowledge and experience together, we should be able to overcome any problem that comes our way. But we do need time to bring about permanent improvements. There will be fires, big and small, to fight. Things may even get worse, before they get better.

I ask Singaporeans for understanding and patience. In housing you gave me 4 years. I hope that I will have some “honeymoon” period too, as I dive into the details, know the people, learn from them, and especially those many unsung heroes, toiling away at night, over weekends, and behind the scene. You can be sure that I will be in the trenches with you. We will fight together, comrades!

He also hinted at his next direction for transport — to further develop cycling as a viable mode of transportation, and to cut down on car dependency ("promoting a car-lite lifestyle") — while revealing his own personal thoughts on his new portfolio:

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 breakdown :)

With the way our trains have been going in recent years, it looks like he he really will have to camp at Sembawang Park all day. Or he could get a head-start and initiate the building of more park connectors before Oct 1, while he still can as MND minister (in anticipation of future train disruptions).


Top photo by Lim Weixiang for Mothership.sg.

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