Khaw Boon Wan to serve as Chairman of the Board of SPH non-profit media entity

It's Khaw.

Sulaiman Daud | May 10, 2021, 02:05 PM

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He retired from politics in 2020, but Khaw Boon Wan will take up another prominent role in Singapore.

The former Transport Minister has agreed to become the new chairman of the board of Singapore Press Holdings' (SPH) non-profit media entity.

Communications and Information Minister S Iswaran announced the move in a ministerial statement in Parliament on May 10.

What you need to know

SPH is the parent company of Singapore's big newspapers, such as The Straits Times, Berita Harian, Lianhe Zaobao, etc.

However, SPH's media businesses has suffered losses due to a decline in advertiser revenue, and it believes this trend will continue.

On May 6, SPH announced that it will spin off its media business into SPH Media Holdings Pte Ltd, a Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG). A CLG is used to carry out non-profit activities.

Such non-profit organisations need corporate status to carry out certain activities, such as applying for credit or buying and selling property.

Iswaran said that he discussed the appointment of the chairman with the representatives of SPH's management shareholders.

He said that given the "national importance" and "scale" of the challenge ahead, the chairman should be Khaw, who agreed to the role.

Iswaran added:

"With his high standing and more than twenty-five years of public service experience in various senior appointments, Mr Khaw will be able to provide strong strategic leadership for the CLG."

Khaw: Mr Fix-It

Khaw is perhaps best known as Singapore's former Transport Minister, having also served stints in the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of National Development, and held the title of Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure.

He was also the chairman of the People's Action Party, which currently governs Singapore.

During his time in politics, he gained a reputation for being a "fixer", someone sent in to deal with Singapore's most pressing national issues.

He grappled with problems like housing and train breakdowns, as the minister responsible, and also took what the country learned from the SARS epidemic to prepare for the next disease outbreak, which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said came in useful during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In PM Lee's valedictory letter, he said that Khaw was in "his cabinet since Day One, and have been one of my most reliable lieutenants".

Khaw has a background in engineering and worked as a civil servant prior to joining politics, though he has no direct experience in the media industry.

Former Chairmen of SPH include senior ministers and civil servants such as former Presidents Tony Tan and S R Nathan. The current SPH chairman is former minister Lee Boon Yang.

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Top image by Joshua Lee.