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Parliamentary Replies

Closure of Singapore Turf Club

03 Jul 2023

Parliamentary Question by Ms Hany Soh: 

To ask the Minister for National Development with respect to the announcement of the Singapore Turf Club (STC) closure in the press release dated 5 June 2023 (a) whether the Ministry is able to provide an estimated number of houses and the types of leisure and recreation facilities that will be developed on the STC site; and (b) what are the projected timelines for such developments and completions.

Parliamentary Question by Ms Hany Soh: 

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance in light of the announcement of the Singapore Turf Club (STC) closure in the press release dated 5 June 2023, whether the Tote Board has considered alternatives to preserve the sport and leisure traditions of horse racing instead of an outright closure.

Parliamentary Question by Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song: 

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance with regard to the staff and trainers who currently work for horse owners but are not employed by the Singapore Turf Club (STC), whether they will be supported by the STC and other Government agencies in re-training for other jobs prior to the closure of STC.

Parliamentary Question by Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim: 

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance (a) whether there was any consultation process undertaken with relevant stakeholders in the decision to close down the Singapore Turf Club in 2024 and, if so, what was done in the process.

Parliamentary Question by Mr Chua Kheng Wee Louis: 

To ask the Minister for National Development what is the expected (i) total number of residential units and (ii) completion date of the first batch of residential properties that will be constructed on the former Singapore Turf Club site at Bukit Timah and Kranji Turf Club respectively.


Parliamentary Reply by Second Minister for Finance and National Development, Ms Indranee Rajah:

1. Mr Deputy Speaker Sir, Questions 4656, 4657, and 4685 on today’s Order Paper relate to the decision to close Singapore Turf Club and redevelopment plans for the site. I seek your permission to answer these three Parliamentary Questions (PQ) together as well as the other Parliamentary Questions on this topic namely PQs 3054 and 3092 which are scheduled for written answer today, and PQs 3042, 4659, 4665, 4728. 4731, 4779, 4653, 4743, and 4791 scheduled for subsequent sittings. Members who filed these PQs for subsequent sittings may wish to withdraw their respective PQs if their queries are sufficiently addressed today.

2. Mr Deputy Speaker Sir, the decision to close Singapore Turf Club (STC) was not an easy decision, nor was it made lightly. Given Singapore’s small size and land constraints, the Government continually reviews our land use plans to meet present and future needs. At the same time, local horse racing has also experienced declining spectatorship over the years. 

3. In developing our long-term land use strategies and plans, the Government has actively engaged the public to understand their needs and aspirations. These engagements have strongly affirmed that we need more land for housing, as well as a diversity of spaces for leisure and recreation, to provide a quality living environment for Singaporeans. With the demand for more land for housing and the declining spectatorship for local horse racing, the Government made the difficult decision to redevelop the Singapore Turf Club site to better meet our future needs.

4. Mr Gerald Giam asked whether the use of the Singapore Racecourse site under the current URA Master Plan has been revised to include housing. At the Committee of Supply debate earlier this year, MND announced that we have started on our Draft Master Plan review, which will take place over the next two to three years. The Government intends to update the revised land use for the site to include housing in the upcoming Master Plan.  

5. Ms Hany Soh and Mr Louis Chua asked about the redevelopment plans for the site. The site will be holistically developed to meet the increasing demand for housing, including public housing, as well as leisure and recreation. 

6. This is part of a larger overall plan for the North Region. URA will consider how the site can be developed:

a. to create a distinct identity for the precinct, taking into account its unique characteristics; and

b. to build on the green character of our North Region and the site’s proximity to major parks and nature areas such as the Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve, Mandai Mangroves and Mudflats, Lim Chu Kang Agri-Food cluster, and the Mandai Wildlife Reserve attractions.

7. Work on the revised land use plan, as well as the infrastructure design and planning for the site, will take place over the next three to four years before the Government takes over the site in 2027, so that land preparation and redevelopment can commence thereafter. The Government is studying the potential uses for the site, including the number of dwelling units that can be injected. Details of the redevelopment plan will be made known once the relevant studies and assessments are completed.

8. Mr Edward Chia asked about the timing. The handover of the land and assets of STC is scheduled to be completed by March 2027, which is three and a half years from now. We made the announcement now to give trainers and owners sufficient time to make the necessary arrangements. This also allows them to have several more races, culminating in the Singapore Gold Cup in October 2024.

9. Ms Hany Soh, Mr Gerald Giam, Mr Sharael Taha, and Mr Edward Chia, have asked what assistance will be given to workers affected by the cessation of horse racing. We will make every effort to assist and ease the transition for them. 

10. There are 2 different groups of workers affected – those employed by STC and those employed by the trainers.

11. About 350 STC employees are affected. The STC employees will continue to be employed for at least the next 15 months up till October 2024, with some staying until closure in 2027. Upon cessation of their employment, they will receive retrenchment packages in line with MOM guidelines. In addition, they will receive job placement assistance, career guidance, skills training, and counselling so that they can find new jobs. NTUC has also stepped in to offer support.

12. The horse trainers employ or engage about another 420 workers. While these are not STC employees, STC will nevertheless lean forward to work with their employers, the trainers, to provide support to these workers and ease their transition. The media had recently reported that some equestrian entities are prepared to offer them jobs. STC will also be extending employment facilitation, skills training, and career counselling. 

13. Members have also asked what will happen to the racehorses. There are approximately 700 racehorses. They will have to be rehomed once the races cease. In the meantime, STC has already rolled out support for racehorse owners and trainers for horse maintenance, as well as horse exportation and placement. STC is discussing with owners and trainers what additional support they may need to rehome their horses and will do its best to meet reasonable requests. 

14. Some trainers have highlighted concerns that the owners might abandon their horses. I hope that this is indeed not the case and I would caution any owner against so doing. Owners have the responsibility to look after their horses. It would be an offence under the Animals and Birds Act to abandon their horses or fail to care appropriately for them. STC is committed to working with owners to manage their horses in a responsible manner, such as through rehoming, either overseas or in a stable in Singapore. 

15. Members have also asked about the impact of the closure of STC on equestrian activities in Singapore. While horse racing will cease, other equestrian activities are not affected by STC’s closure. Sport Singapore engages regularly with the Equestrian Federation of Singapore which oversees our national team’s training. The STC’s closure does not affect our national equestrian team’s training, which is located at Jalan Mashhor. 

16. On heritage, we recognise the rich history of the Turf Club and the racing community. The National Heritage Board (NHB) will work with STC and stakeholders to capture and commemorate the heritage of STC and local horse racing.

17. We will make every effort to assist those affected, and to ensure the history and heritage of STC and the racing community is commemorated.