Speaking off the cuff in his opening address at the 4th joint forum on infrastructure maintenance this morning, Transport Minister and Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure Khaw Boon Wan launched a harsh criticism of the mainstream media for their coverage of the MRT system’s frequent breakdowns since Hari Raya Puasa last month.
in his speech, Mr Khaw said that the media had not been fair in covering the “resignalling project” and have “magnified the problem” instead. SMRT’s train systems are currently undergoing signalling train tests and calibration to upgrade the aging 30 year-old system, which turns 30 this year in November.
He said: “Even the main media have turned tabloid. Yes, exciting and so on… frightening readers.”
He complained that resignalling was “a very complex” task and chided the reporter: “… think it’s so easy… like holding a pen and writing a few articles, and get the signalling done”.
“I wish it was so simple. If it were so simple, they don’t need us. We can ask the reporter to run the train system,” he said to laughter in the audience.
The Straits Times has since responded to Mr Khaw’s remarks.
The Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez said: “We are aware of the complexities involved in the resignalling process even as normal operations have to continue. We have reported on that, but we also have to report on the difficulties that crop up along the way, and the impact they have on commuters facing disruptions.”
Commuters and experts who were asked for their opinion on Mr Khaw’s latest sour note said that representing true sentiments on the ground was not “sensationalism”.
“The experience of many commuters recently is disruption on almost a daily basis. If press coverage doesn’t match everyday experience, then the press loses credibility,” said Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy research fellow Hawyee Auyong.