Why should Khaw Boon Wan take the hit for MRT breakdowns? He is not Minister for Trains

By November 1, 2017Current

TL;DR – Being Minister for Transport jin cham. 

No one expected Ministry of Transport to be an easy portfolio to helm. Not even Khaw Boon Wan himself who got arrowed to fix the transport issues since 2015.

When the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew met former Transport Minister Raymond Lim (the guy before Lui Tuck Yew), he already said this,

“This is a thankless job…but somebody has to do it!”

So when Minister Khaw took up the hot seat at the ministry, no one said anything until the trains started to breakdown.

Well, that’s also understandable because when people are frustrated, they tend to find a punching bag to vent their frustrations. And if it’s not targeted at the SMRT management then it’s usually directed at the next person in line that is “paid” and “elected” to do the job. That happens to be the Minister for Transport.

Never mind how heavy this portfolio is. People don’t see Minister for Transport overseeing sea, land and air operations because they don’t travel via sampans, fast crafts or speed boats as daily transport.

When there are train breakdowns, Minister Khaw comes to people’s minds because he is Minister for Transport.

But when Singapore does well in other forms of transportation, he is out of Singaporeans’ sight and out of Singaporeans’ minds.

Car-lite society

In 2014, when Minister Khaw was still helming the National Development portfolio, he said Singapore must make cycling as a viable transport option.

They plan to implement a 700km cycling network by 2030 and to date, we have 230km of cycling paths and park connectors in Singapore.

READ MORE:  Lessons the Government should learn from the SMRT train cracks incident

It will soon also be easier to cycle from home to the city. LTA will be building a off-road cycling path along Bencoolen street and this will connect to existing and future cycling routes all over Singapore.

These are significant progress…but wait. Do Singaporeans acknowledge them?

Minister Khaw Boon Wan (L) and Minister Lawrence Wong (via Sports Singapore)

Smart nation happening at T4

Chang Airport’s latest terminal – T4 officially opened yesterday and it is a critical milestone in Singapore’s aviation history because the entire terminal is fully automated.

From check-in to boarding, everything is done without any human interaction. It is half the size of T3 but it is the future of Changi Airport and Singapore’s vision of becoming a smart nation.

The last time we had a new terminal, it was in 2008. That was 9 years ago. Do Singaporeans know that Ministry of Transport worked closely with Changi Airport to unlock this achievement?


There are many more examples of how we have clocked new milestones for our transport sector but frankly, there is no need to list them all down because humans remember the bad and forget the good anyway.

So maybe, just maybe, we should have a Minister for Trains on top of having a Minister for Transport.

Because nobody remembers that the transport ministry doesn’t just oversee our trains. That will be too minute and should be left to the Ministry of Trains.

Anybody wants to take up the job of being Minister for Trains? If you love being in the limelight and your skin is as thick as an elephant, this job will suit you very well.


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Joey Wee

Author Joey Wee

I am nice, most of the time!

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Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Nash says:

    I completely agree that as a Minister he should be held responsible for the breakdowns however it is a point to note that part of his portfolio is to oversee public transport infrastructure as there is a big public expectation for trains to function. If there is a lapse, it is in his portfolio to impose the necessary sanctions against the offending company however the gripe of most Singaporeans is that we do not see such sanctions being imposed. Instead , we note that these privately run public transport providers are showing millions in revenue which can be attributed to increased fares.

  • Feel my pain says:

    I bet you didn’t kena before train breakdown. If you have, you should know the pain and the agony of it. As an individual, I could imagine there are X ways to solve this issue. But why couldn’t he do so? That is the issue we should tackle!

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