Former Minister Khaw Boon Wan to Chair Board of New Not-for-Profit Entity After SPH Media Restructuring

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A general is a high-ranking military officer, or the head of a transport system.

A Minister of Transport is a senior government official responsible for policies related to transportation, or the head of a non-profit media entity.

Khaw Boon Wan to Chair Restructured SPH Media

In a statement on the future of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH)’s media operations, Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran named former Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan as its new chairperson.

SPH’s current management supported Mr Khaw’s nomination, given the “national importance of the task and scale of the challenge”, citing his “high standing and more than twenty-five years of public service experience in various senior appointments”.

When reporting, The Straits Times did not comment on the possibility of its printing presses breaking down at peak hour.

When interviewed, Mr Khaw commented that he was anxious about this “heavy responsibility” given his lack of experience in the digital media industry, though he committed to giving his best and added he will “see how we can adapt relevant experiences from successful transformations elsewhere”.

Mr Khaw expressed his duty and obligation, pledging that he “cannot allow a Singapore institution to go into decline”, and resolved to “help unleash the talent and the passion in our newsrooms”.

“Journalism is a profession, and a noble one which I respect… To these professionals, the least we can do is to acknowledge their sacrifice, support them, and show it. I will do my part.”

The Newspaper and Printing Presses Act Will Still Apply

The new Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG), an entity usually formed to serve some public or national interest without the motive for profit, will still be subject to the 1974 Newspaper and Printing Presses Act.

For more information on the nature of the new entity, here’s an explainer.

The Act limits the ownership and control of local newspapers through two types of shares, ordinary and management shares, where management shareholders have 200 times the voting power on key proposals related to the appointments of senior officials.

The purpose of differentiating shares, according to Mr Iswaran, is that “the stewardship of the newspaper is entrusted to entities with an abiding interest in, and commitment to, Singapore’s stability and success.”

Foreign influence? Not in my Singaporean Minecraft server!

The SPH’s current management shareholders include institutions like the National University of Singapore (NUS), Temasek Holdings, and OCBC Bank. 

All of them have committed to becoming the founding members of the new CLG, which Mr Iswaran believes must maintain “the reputation and high level of trust that SPH has built with generations of readers, domestically and internationally.”

There have been concerns that the continued, active presence of government-appointed leadership could promote self-censorship in the newsroom, though we will not elaborate on this point so that no one needs to take out their… umbrellas? Is that the word?


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Mr Iswaran has also offered government funding to equip the CLG with “the wherewithal to innovate, build digital and other essential capabilities, and confidently take on new challenges”.

Mr Iswaran also cautioned that “the new media company must have a long-term, sustainable business model with different revenue sources”, with a “strong leadership”, “robust business strategy”, and “strong and capable team of newsroom professionals”. 

The plans for restructuring, though talked about as a certainty, remain subject to shareholder approval. 

Feature Image: Facebook (Khaw Boon Wan) / Google Maps

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