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Khaw Boon Wan to be chairman of new entity after SPH media restructuring

SINGAPORE – Former Cabinet minister Khaw Boon Wan will chair the board of the new not-for-profit entity to be set up after Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) restructures its media operations.

This decision to appoint him has been discussed with SPH’s current management shareholders, who agreed that Mr Khaw is the right choice given the national importance of the task and scale of the challenge, Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said on Monday (May 10).

The not-for-profit entity will be a company limited by guarantee (CLG) and SPH’s media business will come under its charge. Such CLGs are typically formed to carry out non-profit-making activities that have some public or national interest.

The restructuring of SPH’s media business is subject to shareholder approval.

Speaking in Parliament, Mr Iswaran said: “With his high standing and more than 25 years of public service experience in various senior appointments, Mr Khaw will be able to provide strong strategic leadership for the CLG.”

He disclosed that Mr Khaw, who retired from politics in 2020 after 19 years of service and last served as Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport, has agreed to be the chairman.

The new company’s success will be determined by three factors, Mr Iswaran said.

These are: Strong leadership to set the organisation’s strategic vision and execute transformation, a robust business strategy that can be sustained under the new structure with the requisite resources, and a strong and capable team of newsroom professionals, who will maintain high standards.

He also said that the Newspaper and Printing Presses Act (NPPA) will apply to the news entities under the CLG.

The Act, introduced in 1974, imposes restrictions on the ownership and control of local newspaper companies. Among other things, such companies are obliged to issue two classes of share – ordinary shares and management shares.

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In comparison to ordinary shareholders, who can each hold no more than five per cent of a newspaper company’s shares, management shareholders have 200 times the voting power on resolutions relating to the appointment of directors and staff of such companies.

The issuance of such shares is subject to Government approval, with the intention that these shares are held by “reputable and established institutions, so that the stewardship of the newspaper is entrusted to entities with an abiding interest in, and commitment to, Singapore’s stability and success”, he said.

SPH’s current management shareholders have all agreed to be the founding members of the new CLG, Mr Iswaran added.

The management shareholders are: OCBC Bank, Great Eastern, UOB Bank, DBS Bank, Singtel, NTUC Income, Temasek via Fullerton Pte Ltd, the National University of Singapore and the Nanyang Technological University.

“This will ensure that our local news media will remain in the hands of trusted institutions with a long-term stake in Singapore,” he added. “In due course, the membership will be expanded to include newer and more diverse institutions as stakeholders of the CLG.”

Mr Iswaran said that the CLG must maintain “the reputation and high level of trust that SPH has built with generations of readers, domestically and internationally”.

This article was first published in The Straits TimesPermission required for reproduction.

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