Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan has contradicted Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s claims that Singapore has a “first-class transport system”, in his latest comments in Parliament.
Almost exactly six months ago, PM Lee had asserted that Singapore has a top-rate transport system. Speaking at the People’s Action Party (PAP) Convention 2017, held on 20 Nov, the head of government had said:
“Actually, if I may be bold and say so, we have a first-class transport system in Singapore.”
Addressing a crowd of about 2000 PAP activists, PM Lee acknowledged that while public transport here could be “even better,” Singapore is ranked among the top 4 cities in the world, in terms of train system reliability.
The ruling party leader was quoting an article that ranked Singapore as one of four most reliable train systems in the world, along with train systems in Hong Kong, Taipei and Los Angeles. He added:
“We’re not the best – Hong Kong is better, Taipei is better.
“We will get better. But we must see our problems in perspective and we must therefore encourage our team: ‘Work at it. Get there. We are with you’.”
Elaborating on the new public transport fare formula in Parliament yesterday, Khaw claimed that linking public transport fares to reliability could worsen situation, drawing immense flak from netizens.
Khaw added that it is impossible to improve the public transport system without pumping in more resources that will go towards recruiting manpower needs. He added:
“All those things come with money and I really hope Singaporeans understand that I want to do my job well so that we can have a first-class transport system and we will get there.
“But I do need money because it is not realistic to hope that you get a first-class, reliable train with no need of any injection of resources.”
Khaw acknowledged that this funding would have to come from “either taxpayers through subsidies or commuters through fares”.
PM Lee’s speech in November – in which he claimed that Singapore already has a first class transport system that Khaw curiously now needs money to achieve in the future – came about a week after the train collision at Joo Koon station that caused at least 36 people to sustain injuries and a little over a month after the MRT tunnel flooding incident on 7 Oct that caused a 20-hour service disruption.
In his speech, the PM also opined that Khaw has one of the toughest jobs in the Cabinet and added that Khaw has the People’s Action Party’s full support and confidence, to applause from other party members.