The Ministry of Transport is more than just MRT trains, and the Transport Minister has to focus on other critical sectors, Mr Khaw Boon Wan said on Monday (Nov 9).
In a blogpost on Monday, Mr Khaw said that while he spends a lot of time on rail reliability and buses, other sectors – especially the aviation and maritime sectors – are also facing challenges.
"These are significant sectors of our economy, the health of which can impact hundreds of thousands of Singaporeans," wrote Mr Khaw. "Their jobs and their families depend on these sectors. And there are strong headwinds and turbulence ahead.”
The aviation industry, for example, accounts for 6 per cent of Singapore’s economy and more than 160,000 jobs, he said. “But passenger traffic growth at Changi Airport has slowed down in the last two years, even as some of our competitors continue to grow. We have to help it get back on the path of growth."
Mr Khaw also wrote about reports of Indonesia wanting to manage the Flight Information Region (FIR) over the airspace above the Riau Islands. The International Civil Aviation Organization had approved for this airspace to be managed by Singapore to ensure flight safety as well as efficient flight operations of airlines and airports, he said, adding that “this does not affect Indonesia’s sovereignty”.
The maritime industry, which contributes about 7 per cent to Singapore's gross domestic product and provides more than 170,000 jobs, is also facing challenges, Mr Khaw wrote.
"Our sea port faces competition from neighbouring ports all the time. Alternative trade routes such as the Arctic Route and the proposed Kra Canal could also result in ships bypassing Singapore."
As a "little red dot in an unfriendly, fiercely competitive world", Singapore has to be focused on these strategic issues, he said.
"How we negotiate these huge geopolitical challenges can be life-and-death to Singaporeans. We do not say a lot about such challenges in public, and Singaporeans may not be fully aware. But we spend a lot of our management time and bandwidth on these critical issues."
Still, this is “not an excuse for the next train disruption”, Mr Khaw said.
"We are doing our best to make our rail system even more reliable. I just hope to get Singaporeans’ better understanding and moral support."