First visits will be to maintenance crews: New Transport Minister Khaw

SINGAPORE - New Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan has paid tribute to the engineers, mechanics and maintenance crew who work on the MRT lines.

In a post on his new "Moving News" blog on Wednesday, Mr Khaw wrote that although the rail networks were multi-billion dollar assets, with $14 billion spent on public transport in the past five years and a further $26 billion to be spent over the coming half-decade, they were not the most precious assets.

"Our most precious are our engineers, mechanics and maintenance crew who toil day and night to ensure that these assets, trains, tracks and electrical systems are in good servicable condition, so that trains can run reliably and on schedule, and commuters are not inconvenienced."

He explained that this was the reason why his first visits as Transport Minister will be to the maintenance crew for the rail operators at their depots and workshops.

"They deserve our tender loving care, and in turn, they look after the assets with similar passion," he wrote.

The outgoing National Development Minister said that he wanted to understand their concerns and aspirations, and hoped that they would accept him as a friend over time.

Mr Khaw recalled that as a hospital CEO he spent time getting to know nurses, attendants and paramedics, from whom he sometimes got advice and suggestions which he could then implement to improve patient-care services.

"I look forward to a similar working and social relationship with the crew of our rail operators," he added.

Mr Khaw, who also previously served as Health Minister from 2004 to 2011, was named Transport Minister in the new Cabinet unveiled by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday.

He succeeds Mr Lui Tuck Yew, who chose to retire from politics prior to the recent General Election.