SINGAPORE - Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan went off script in his opening address at the fourth joint forum on infrastructure maintenance on Thursday (July 27) morning to take issue with the press.
He said he did not like the way the press has been covering the resignalling project "because they've magnified the problem unfairly".
"Even the main media have turned tabloid. Yes, exciting and so on... frightening readers," Mr Khaw, who is also Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure, said, in what could be seen as an oblique reference to newspapers such as The Straits Times.
In his off-the-cuff remarks, Mr Khaw said resignalling was "a very complex" task. But the media, he said, "think it's so easy... like holding a pen and writing a few articles, and get the signalling done".
"I wish it was so simple. If it were so simple, they don't need us. We can ask the reporter to run the train system," he said to laughter in the audience.
In response, The Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez said: "We are aware of the complexities involved in the resignalling process even as normal operations have to continue. We have reported on that, but we also have to report on the difficulties that crop up along the way, and the impact they have on commuters facing disruptions."
Sales and marketing manager Ashley Wu, 37, whose commute has been disrupted by the breakdowns and delays, said: "It's not as if the press has been reporting things that are not happening.
"Interviewing people about how the breakdowns are affecting their daily lives is not being sensational."
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy research fellow Hawyee Auyong said: "The experience of many commuters recently is disruption on almost a daily basis. If press coverage doesn't match everyday experience, then the press loses credibility."