He has handled complex issues and difficult portfolios while helming the Health and National Development ministries. And now, talk has intensified that Mr Khaw Boon Wan is set to take the hottest ministerial seat on offer when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announces his new Cabinet next week — that of Transport Minister.
The first hint of change came last Friday, when Mr Khaw, who has been National Development Minister since 2011, announced on his Facebook page that he was anticipating that the Cabinet reshuffle would “affect” him. He then suggested that his destination was one that the “bookies” were clear about.
Even before Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew left politics, Mr Khaw has been linked to the job, with many netizens seeing him as a “steady hand” who has done well in handling difficult issues in health and housing.
As Health Minister, Mr Khaw was deft in handling the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) crisis, reformed MediShield and restored public confidence in the charity sector after public uproar over misuse of funds at the National Kidney Foundation.
He then volunteered to tackle the prickly issues facing the National Development Ministry after the 2011 General Election. Since taking over, he has overseen measures to cool the runaway cost of private and public housing, fuelled the construction of more HDB flats and helped different groups, such as singles, buy flats.
His successes have led many to believe that Minister Fix-It, as he has been called, will be given the challenging transport portfolio, one that has seen three ministers in the last nine years deal with rising COE prices, unhappy commuters, overcrowded buses and trains, and service breakdowns. Should Mr Khaw get the Transport Minister job, he would be a good fit, said transport and political analysts The New Paper spoke to.