Retired politician Khaw Boon Wan has been appointed the chairman of the not-for-profit entity that will oversee Singapore Press Holdings’ (SPH) media business, says S Iswaran, the Minister for Communications and Information on May 10.

Revealing the news in Parliament, Iswaran says the decision to appoint Khaw was discussed with SPH’s current management shareholders, who agreed that Khaw was the right choice for the job.

Khaw has already agreed to be the chairman.

Khaw, in a statement on May 10, says the role is a "heavy responsibility", and that he has accepted it with "some anxiety as I have no digital media experience".

"I will see how we can adapt relevant experiences from successful transformation elsewhere. I agree with Minister Iswaran on the local media’s critical role and will do my best to ensure we succeed in this national project," he says

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"This assignment will disrupt my retirement!  In the last one year, I have been blissfully content. But I cannot allow a Singapore institution to go into decline. I will see how I can help unleash the talent and the passion in our newsrooms.  We will re-focus on our primary mission of providing quality journalism to help build this young nation," he adds.

Khaw last served in the Cabinet as the Minister for Transport and Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure from 2015 to 2020, before retiring from politics in June 2020, ahead of the General Election in July 2020. He was also known as “Mr Fix-it” after taking on challenging portfolios such as housing and transport.

SPH’s current management shareholders will be the founding members of the new entity.

The management shareholders are OCBC, Great Eastern, UOB, DBS, Singapore Telecommunications (Singtel), NTUC Income, Fullerton under Temasek, the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

“They have all agreed that, given the national importance of this undertaking and the scale of the challenge, the chairman should be Mr Khaw Boon Wan,” says Iswaran.

“With his high standing and more than 25 years of public service experience in various senior appointments, Mr Khaw will be able to provide strong strategic leadership for the CLG,” he adds.

In addition, Iswaran stressed that the new company’s success will be determined by strong leadership to set and execute the organisation’s strategic vision, a robust business strategy and a strong and cable team of newsroom professionals.

SPH, on May 6, announced that its core media business will be hived off into a public company with a limited by guarantee (CLG) structure.

Iswaran further revealed that the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act (NPPA) will apply to the news entities under the CLG, and that the government does not expect its relationship with SPH to change.

"Although the business and financing model will change, the government does not intend nor expect this to affect the relationship between (the Ministry of Communications and Information) and the SPH newsroom,” says Iswaran.

“[The government is] mindful that our local news media must remain credible institutions that are trusted by Singaporeans, and that it must remain the responsibility of editors and journalists in SPH Media to report news and diverse opinions objectively, and from a Singaporean point of view",” he adds.

The restructuring of the media business is subject to shareholders' approval at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM).

As at 3.09pm, shares in SPH are trading 4 cents higher or 2.6% up at $1.56.


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