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Opening Remarks By Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister & Minister For Finance & Minister For Manpower At The Official Launch Of "I Light Marina Bay 2012" Light Art Festival

09 Mar 2012

Ladies and gentlemen,

1.   Good evening. I am pleased to join you today to launch the second edition of i Light Marina Bay.

2.   It is always a pleasure to be here at Marina Bay, to be immersed in the energy of a new downtown which has been evolving. The many developments in this precinct have transformed our skyline, and imbued our city with more excitement, colour and vibrancy.

Marina Bay as a leisure destination

3.   A record 23 million people visited Marina Bay last year. This figure speaks for itself, and indicates how the precinct has become a popular destination both for our local and overseas visitors in a remarkably short period of time. They visited Marina Bay, attracted by the wide range of leisure and entertainment options, and a spectacular waterfront location designed as a public space for all to enjoy.

4.   The Bay will continue to evolve as a destination of choice for recreation. Last year, the Marina Bay Sands unveiled two new performing theatres and the new ArtScience Museum. This year, the much anticipated first phase of Gardens by the Bay at Marina South will open in June. I have no doubt that the Gardens will become popular with visitors, and reinforce our commitment to make Singapore a "City in a Garden". The reservoir is also getting busier with more water sports activities. The National Sailing Federation has started sailing lessons in the waters here, and is gearing up its programmes to reach out to more people. All these augur well for our vision to make this 'the People's Bay'.

Marina Bay as a Financial Centre

5.   Beyond leisure, the development of Marina Bay has enabled us to expand and grow our financial hub beyond the Central Business District. The area around the Bay is planned to accommodate another 3.5 million square metres of new office space. With this additional land area, engineered over 30 years of planning, we now have a competitive advantage over other financial centres in the region.

6.   In the past two years, we saw the completion of several new office developments, including the Marina Bay Financial Centre, Asia Square Tower 1 and OUE Bayfront. These state-of-the-art office developments have provided opportunities for existing businesses to grow and also for new companies to anchor themselves in Singapore. For instance, Standard Chartered has chosen to site its largest office premises globally here at the Bay while, Lloyd's, a world renowned specialist insurance company, also doubled its office footprint in Singapore when it moved into Asia Square Tower 1 in November last year.

7.   Despite the signs of global economic slowdown, we remain optimistic about the long-term growth of our financial sector, which makes up about 12 per cent of our GDP. Moving forward, more office developments will continue to come on stream in Marina Bay and provide the necessary support to anchor Singapore as a leading financial centre. The new developments in the pipeline include Tower 3 of the Marina Bay Financial Centre, Asia Square Tower 2, and future developments by M+S Pte Ltd, a joint venture between Khazahah Nasional Berhad, Malaysia's investment company, and Singapore's Temasek Holdings.

8.   We are making good progress in our plans to ensure that Marina Bay is accessible to everyone. The Bayfront MRT station has just opened in January this year. The Downtown MRT Station is slated to open next year, and it will connect the southern part of the Bay to the current Central Business District. At Straits View, works on the International Cruise Terminal is progressing well. When completed, the 28,000 square metre terminal will be able to handle the world's largest cruise ships and make Marina South another gateway to Singapore.

Marina Bay as a sustainable urban district

9.   Finally, we are strengthening Marina Bay's positioning as Singapore's first sustainable urban district. The aim is to make it liveable, low carbon and inclusive. Hence, we have taken many bold initiatives on this front, such as creating a fresh water reservoir in the city, mandating green buildings, setting aside land for the Gardens by the Bay, and working with developers to incorporate sky rise greenery in buildings among others. We believe that all these will contribute toward making the precinct a much more sustainable and attractive place to live, work and play in. More importantly, this will be an inclusive Bay for all to enjoy.

10.   In this regard, I applaud the efforts of the i Light Marina Bay festival team to bring this event to the public. We cannot make and sustain a place through developing world-class infrastructure alone. We also need 'software' to bring the community together to enjoy the place, and collectively define an identity for the Bay. To do so through a display of beautiful light art installations is creative, fun and delightful. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the featured artists and designers on their impressive work. I wish you all a pleasant evening. Thank you.