Photo of Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan from Today Online

Protraying the type of protectionism that back rumours of cronyism

by Ghui

No one is in doubt that Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan is working very hard and trying his best. That said, in the face of an ongoing transportation crisis, does hard work equate effective results?

Even if Minister Khaw is indeed doing all he can, the point of the matter is that public confidence in him has completely eroded and sometimes, those in power have to make the hard decisions for the greater good. It bears remembering that this is a job like any other and if one is not performing, one has to face the consequences of not doing so. This isn’t a schoolyard gang where you back up your own. This is a public service job funded by public money.

Are Minister Shanmugam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong putting party loyalty above state concerns?

I understand that both PM Lee and Minister Shanmugam are trying to be supportive of their fellow minister and putting up a cohesive front. But does this closing of ranks best Singapore’s interests? However unintentionally, it just comes across as they type of protectionism that provides fodder for rumours of cronyism even if that is the not case.

Minister Shanmugam has tried to defend Minister Khaw by listing all of his previous accomplishments in other government departments. How is that relevant to our current issue?

He then proceeds to talk about how Mr Khaw has had a tough few years. No offence but how is that solving the problem? We all have had tough times at our jobs and still had to perform or face the risk of a chop. The two issues are completely unrelated. The Ministers get paid huge salaries for doing their jobs. In the face of these series of blunders, there is no time for a “there there you poor thing” pat on the back!

Is this the pervading attitude of those ensconced in power – which they are given slack because the job is tough?

PM Lee is a little more contrite, acknowledging that public confidence has been hurt. While that sentiment is encouraging, he stopped short at providing solutions and also attempted to explain how difficult the job is which in my opinion, misses the point completely. He even asked the public to go on supporting Mr Khaw.

While I have nothing personal against Mr Khaw and do sincerely believe that he has inherited a poisoned chalice, I still think that there has to be some semblance of accountability. He is the face of public transport. If it isn’t working out, we need a new face to bring on change. The government must see that and do the right thing. The ills that have plagued the MRT are not new and in fact keep on escalating!

The government can be supportive of Khaw while also asking him to step aside. These two things are not mutually exclusive. However, asking the public to still support Khaw may be too big an ask and a tad too apparently arrogant.