SINGAPORE - Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan is Acting Transport Minister and will oversee ongoing discussions with Malaysia on several transport-related issues, as Mr Khaw Boon Wan recovers from a broken arm.
Mr Khaw, the Transport Minister and Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure, is on extended medical leave after fracturing his left arm in a fall last week, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said on Monday (Feb 25).
The Straits Times understands that Mr Khaw, 66, is expected to undergo minor surgery this week.
The PMO said Mr Khaw has been warded in hospital and is receiving treatment, and “will resume duties when he is able to do so, probably after several weeks”.
Meanwhile, Dr Balakrishnan, 58, will step in as Acting Transport Minister. “This ensures that the ongoing discussions with Malaysia on several transport matters will continue to be well coordinated,” the PMO said.
Both countries have been locked in a maritime dispute after Malaysia unilaterally extended the Johor Baru port limits last October, encroaching on territorial waters that Singapore regards as its own.
In response, Singapore extended its own port limits in December, to the full extent of the Republic’s territorial waters.
A joint working group is studying the legal and operational matters to de-escalate the situation on the ground. Earlier this month, a Malaysian government vessel and a Greek carrier collided in Singapore territorial waters off Tuas.
Separately, the two countries also had a disagreement over Singapore’s introduction of new landing procedures for Seletar Airport and Malaysia’s subsequent decision to declare a restricted zone over Pasir Gudang for the purpose of military activities. Both sides have agreed to mutually suspend these measures till the end of next month while they negotiate the issues.
The PMO said on Monday that Senior Ministers of State for Transport Lam Pin Min and Janil Puthucheary, with Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Baey Yam Keng, will help Dr Balakrishnan in the upcoming parliamentary debate on the spending plans of the ministry.
Mr Khaw had said in an interview in December that he would play a “supportive role” in the debate, while Dr Lam and Dr Puthucheary take the lead.
Meanwhile, Mr Khaw’s duties in Sembawang GRC will be covered by the other MPs in the constituency.
Mr Amrin Amin, also the Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health, was at Mr Khaw’s Meet-The-People session on Monday evening, held at Block 789 Woodlands Avenue 6.
Mr Vikram Nair is scheduled to cover next Monday’s session.
In 2012, Mr Khaw fractured his left arm and wore a brace in May during the by-election campaign for single-seat Hougang constituency.