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Speech By Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Finance & Minister for Manpower, At The Opening Of The Ocean Financial Centre

31 Aug 2011

Dr Lee Boon Yang, Chairman, Keppel Corporation,

Mr Choo Chiau Beng, Chairman of Keppel Land and CEO of Keppel Corporation,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen

1. It gives me great pleasure to be here tonight to officiate at the opening of the Ocean Financial Centre (OFC) and to launch the book “Prime – Pride of Passage” by Dr K K Seet. This book is a first in tracing the history and development of the four Ocean Buildings which had stood in this location in Singapore’s Central Business District for close to 150 years.

Historical Significance

2. Standing at the end of Collyer Quay, the four transformations of the Ocean Building have evolved over the years. It is noteworthy their stories run parallel to that of Singapore’s history and economic development since the time when Collyer Quay was an important landing point for the unloading and storage of goods transported along the Singapore River.

3. The first two-storey Ocean Building was built in 1864, the same year in which the road Collyer Quay was built on reclaimed land. It was replaced by the second five-storey Ocean Building in 1923, which housed the headquarters of the Straits Steamship Company. The third 28-storey Ocean Building, built in 1974, also housed many other shipping companies and air agencies.

4. Today, the Collyer Quay and Raffles Place area has also evolved together with Singapore’s growth as a financial hub. The area today is a centre for financial activities, with shipping activities relocated to other parts of Singapore. The tenants in the Ocean Building have similarly changed – replaced by major financial institutions, law firms and multi-national corporations as mentioned by Mr Choo.

5. I am pleased to note that the history behind these past Ocean Buildings, and that of this new 43-storey Ocean Financial Centre, will be captured in Dr Seet’s new book. I hope that it will serve as a useful reference for future generations and as a reminder of the different roles that the Collyer Quay area has played in Singapore’s economic development.

Singapore – An International Financial Centre

6. The robust occupier demand for new and upcoming office buildings such as the Ocean Financial Centre is indicative of the vibrancy of Singapore’s financial sector, and its role as a critical link to the global economy and markets.

7. With Asia growing significantly faster than the developed economies, there will be demand for long-term growth capital from investors and cross-border financing by companies venturing overseas to seek new markets. Companies are sourcing from resource-rich countries such as Indonesia and Australia, manufacturing in countries like China and Vietnam, and with management, design and logistics coordinated through Singapore. To enable and exploit these flows, the financial sector will play a vital role through various forms of intermediation of capital to support the sustained growth of Asian economies. In the post-crisis landscape, there is a premium placed on well-regulated financial centres that have strong economic fundamentals. Singapore is in a good position to benefit from this. We have high prudential standards and rigorous supervision that give market players confidence.

8. Singapore is also committed to providing the appropriate physical infrastructure to cater to the needs of global financial institutions (FIs) and give them room to expand in Singapore. Prime office rentals in Singapore remain highly competitive. Based on Collier International’s Q2-2011 Asia-Pacific Office Market Review, Singapore’s prime office rental remains 22.7% and 45.0% more competitive than rents in Tokyo and Hong Kong respectively. The Government will continue to ensure a steady supply of office space to support the growth of the financial and business services sector. The development of new office buildings like the Ocean Financial Centre, with more office space, contributes to this outcome.

OFC - A Sustainable Building

9. Meanwhile, I am heartened by Keppel Land’s commitment towards sustainable development, as seen through its efforts to integrate various environmentally-friendly features in the design of the Ocean Financial Centre.

10. With these sustainable features, the building will achieve an overall energy savings of 35%. I also urge other commercial buildings to explore adopting similar eco-friendly and sustainable features, where feasible.


11. The history of the Ocean Buildings has culminated in the new Ocean Financial Centre you see today, an excellent development contributing to our city skyline. On this note, I would like to congratulate the management and staff of Keppel Land on this momentous occasion. I look forward to the continued, strong partnership between Keppel and Singapore.

12. Thank you.