SINGAPORE: Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew will not stand for re-election in the coming General Election, despite attempts by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and several Cabinet ministers to get him to stay in office.
In an exchange of letters between Mr Lui and Mr Lee that was released to the media, the Transport Minister wrote: “It is with deep regret that I confirm my decision not to stand in the coming General Election.
“I broached this subject with you early this year. You and several senior members of the Cabinet tried hard to persuade me to change my mind. You reminded me that the responsibility of Government was a collective one, and no minister carried difficult problems like public transport alone.
“I deeply appreciate the reassurance and support. But having thought the matter over carefully, I have decided that I should stand by my original decision. I thank you for the unstinting support you have personally given to the Ministry of Transport and me.”
Expenditure on new buses and trains and the expansion of the rail network, airport and port are “higher than ever before and will continue to rise”, wrote Mr Lui, adding that the injection of more capacity on the bus and train network has started to ease congestion.
Mr Lui Tuck Yew speaking to SMRT bus captains at Yishun Interchange in 2012. (File photo: TODAY)
Among the changes he made: The introduction of the Bus Service Enhancement Programme to add more routes and reduce waiting times; the introduction of new trains, with the total fleet expanding by almost half over the coming four years; and the growth of the Downtown Line, with Stage 1 having opened in December 2013 and the entire line set to be completed by 2017.
“As for reliability, train delays and withdrawals across all lines have been reduced,” Mr Lui wrote in the letter dated Aug 11.
However, he acknowledged facing some “setbacks” in his time in office. “Large-scale or prolonged disruptions still happen more frequently than acceptable,” he wrote.
Mr Lui’s time in office was marked by a series of MRT network disruptions, including a slew of breakdowns on the North South Line in December 2011, as well as the simultaneous disruption of both the North South and East West Lines in July this year.
To address these issues, the ministry has embarked on major upgrades, strengthened maintenance practices and identified areas that need systematic renewal – measures which “will allow our problems to be progressively dealt with and resolved”, Mr Lui said.
“I have put my utmost into fulfilling my responsibilities. I thank you for letting me know your intention to reappoint me as a Cabinet Minister if I was to be re-elected at the coming General Election,” wrote the Transport Minister.
“But the General Election also provides an opportunity for me to step back from politics without causing any major disruption to Government at the end of its term. You are also bringing in new potential office holders to strengthen the Cabinet.”
“WE HAVE MADE SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS”
The Prime Minister, in response, said that while he and others in Cabinet felt that Mr Lui had more to contribute, both in transport and in other areas of government, he would “reluctantly accept” Mr Lui’s decision.
“I am disappointed I did not succeed in changing your mind,” Mr Lee wrote in his letter.
“You have done very good work as Minister for Transport. When I asked you to helm the Ministry of Transport in 2011, we both knew you had a very difficult job, but you did not hesitate to take up the challenge.
“There were urgent things to be done, especially expanding and improving the public transport system. Public expectations were high. You put your heart and soul into the task. As a result, we made significant progress over the last four years.”
Mr Lui Tuck Yew inspecting a new Circle Line train earlier this month. (Photo: TODAY)
He also noted that the outcome of many of the policies and major projects put in place under Mr Lui’s watch “will only be seen in the coming years, and will make a lasting difference to the public transport system”.
“The job is not yet complete, as we are reminded from time to time when train services break down. But despite these incidents, I am confident that we are heading in the right direction, to get the public transport system that Singaporeans deserve,” wrote Mr Lee.
“Your role in setting policies, implementing major projects and supervising the operation of the public transport network has contributed critically to this process. You have put in place many improvements whose benefit will be seen only in the coming years, and which will make a lasting difference to the public transport system.”
Mr Lee said he had tried to persuade the Transport Minister to run for a third term in Parliament.
“My senior colleagues share my view that you have more to contribute, both in transport and in other areas of government. We discussed the matter with you several times, but could not persuade you to continue. So I have no choice but to accept your decision not to stand for election again,” wrote the Prime Minister.
“YOU SERVED WITH DISTINCTION”
Mr Lui was a Singapore Armed Forces overseas scholar who rose to become Chief of Navy in 1999. A year later, he was awarded the Public Administration Medal (Gold, Military). The Rear Admiral left the SAF in 2003 to take on positions as Chief Executive Officer of the Maritime and Port Authority and later the CEO of the Housing and Development Board.
He entered Parliament in 2006 as MP in Tanjong Pagar GRC, helming the Moulmein ward, which would in 2011 be absorbed into the newly-formed Moulmein-Kallang GRC. Mr Lui was Senior Minister of State at the Ministry of Education and Acting Minister for was then known as the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts before he was appointed Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs following the 2011 polls.
He would subsequently relinquish the latter position, and in 2015 was named Second Minister for Defence, an appointment he held with his Transport portfolio.
“You served with distinction and dedication in all your postings. You will be missed,” Mr Lee wrote in his letter to Mr Lui.
“I would like to thank you for all that you have done for my team and for Singapore over the last decade. I wish you all the best in your future endeavours, and look forward to your continuing contributions, in other roles, towards our nation building beyond SG50.”
“HE SERVED WITH COMMITMENT, COMPASSION AND CONCERN”
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who like Mr Lui was a Rear-Admiral and Chief of Navy before moving into politics, said he tried to persuade Mr Lui to stay in office – just as he had persuaded him to enter politics in the first place.
“I have known Tuck Yew for more than thirty years, since he was a young officer. He has served with honour and distinction, and has brought commitment, an analytical mind, and compassion and concern for people to every responsibility he has undertaken,” said Mr Teo.
“I encouraged him to serve in politics as these are important qualities for leaders.
“As the Minister for Transport since 2011, he has put all his energy into improving our transport system. The programmes he implemented have begun to show results and will in time improve our transport system significantly.
“I spoke to Tuck Yew to ask him to continue as we need people who are committed to serving Singaporeans, and prepared to tackle difficult issues and resolve them. I was not able to change his mind.”
Hopefully we can see further improvements when the next man takes the wheel.
Don't know any possibility to solve the prob of breaking down.
If anyone has read the email from ex mrt staff about sounding out the mrt staff in charge about rectification of the problem there and then to avoid future breakdown. Staff in charge know of problem but don't care.
Such irresponsibility and no accountability are what we commuters who keep paying constant in transport fare get. The who mrt company need to be revamp. Get the culprits out and penalise them heavily.
Originally posted by FireIce:
he's not bad
he's just suay
anyone put in tt position is just suay
Actually I am inclined to beg to differ. I would say he played his cards well.
To be fair, he wasn't a lazy slouch, and yes, he "suay" to kena this portfolio.
How many who had served as MOT can have claimed to:
1. Over-turn a long-standing policy of SG govt in not subsidising public transport (in terms of paying for bus and bus driver).
2. Over-see a radical change in bus industry structure to contracting model.
3. Do so many upgrades to the existing NSEWL all at once and in haste following the major train disruptions.
These are the 3 off the top of my head and I imagine these are like shining medals on his CV. Not to mention, the transport industry has always been, and will always be a major mover of the economy, and people also forget MOT deals with AIR, LAND, SEA.
In short, the MOT portfolio is more zai than what most people perceive it to be. That perception won't be the case for the industries. They will be ready to pounce on him.
If I were him, I would have demonstrated to others (using CV) what I am capable of. I would sell myself after serving 2 terms (no mean feat ok!) for the people, and I would call it quits, while I can do so gracefully.
And then I head to private sector for a not-so-xiong life (compared to MOT). Really, I dont know why people say chenghu life is keow kar.
Lui Tuck Yew is suay? It really depends on how you use the "suayness" and make it work you eventually.
He decided time's up and left, and I would say fair winds and following seas to him.Edited by SBS2601D 11 Aug `15, 11:29PM
WPs Low: Lui has done a good job; timing of news raises questions about reasons for leaving http://str.sg/ZnjP