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Speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Finance, at Park Hotel Alexandra’s Grand Opening Ceremony

04 Nov 2015

Mr Lim Tiam Seng, Executive Chairman, Chip Eng Seng Corporation Ltd,

Mr Allen Law, CEO, Park Hotel Group,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening.

1. I have passed by this site a few times, watched this hotel being built, been curious to know what the finished building would be like. It is a pleasure to be here, to see an image on hoardings transformed into reality, and to meet the proud members of your team. Thank you for your invitation to join you at your grand opening.

2. When Chairman Lim invited me to this special occasion, I was happy to accept. Chairman Lim actually invited me when I was still at the Ministry of Education. At the time, I thought, I must come, and use the chance to share something – what does the hotel opening have to do with education? Yes, there is a connection. Now, I am at the Ministry of Finance and leading our committee that is looking into the future economy. So I will share a bonus explanation – what does this opening have to do with the future economy?

3. Let me start with the future economy. As we strive to keep our economy resilient and competitive in an increasingly volatile world of slower global growth, every new breakthrough by one of our home-grown companies is a cause for cheer. This hotel is a first for Chip Eng Seng. The company grew from humble beginnings in the 1960s into one of our leading construction and property groups. Today marks a new milestone, your first hospitality asset.

4. This is the first hotel in the Alexandra district, and its design makes the most of the beauty of the nearby Southern Ridges, while retaining the urban charms of Alexandra. This first-mover innovation creates jobs in the hotel – it creates new opportunities for Singaporeans to learn, to grow, to excel in the hospitality field and related fields.

5. In this light, I wish to commend Park Hotel Alexandra on your collaboration with the Singapore Workforce Development Agency on the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme. Thank you for providing the training and mentorship to groom a pool of local fresh graduates from the hospitality field of study. There is no better learning place for our students than in the workplace, where they can practise what they have studied in the classroom, and pick up valuable lessons that come from real life experience.

6. With your participation in SkillsFuture, our students are given an opportunity to build their careers through a structured progression pathway. I have no doubt that you will also find great value in this partnership, allowing you to infuse the students with your best practices and your passion for service, and groom exemplary members for your team.

7. Here, we have a good example of how, as one of our companies grows and attains new achievements, you create and spread good opportunities for Singaporeans to achieve their own career and learning goals.

8. But you won’t touch only the lives of your employees. By bringing this district its first hotel, with a design that respects and makes the most of Alexandra’s identity, you will stimulate other businesses and activities in the area, and bring more life and dynamism into the community. You will bring in tourists to Alexandra, kicking off other developments in the area.

9. For those of you who have been following our discussions on the future economy, you will know that I have been saying, for our future economy, we need to move from adding value to creating value. This is one illustration of how a company can create value.

10. So I have given you my first explanation – what a hotel opening has to do with the future economy.

11. Now let me say what this hotel opening has to do with education. The company that built this hotel is a company that also believes in building up people – through education. I know that your people are important to you. You place a high emphasis on staff development, and your employees regularly undergo training and skills upgrading to stay updated with the industry’s best practices.

12. As you have grown over the years, you have also sought ways to give back to society, in a way that supports education. Some of you may know that Chip Eng Seng started a bursary fund at NTU for engineering students. Chairman Lim has shared that he hopes to help students get an education and develop to their full potential regardless of their family circumstances.

13. In fact, you heard him share tonight that Chip Eng Seng will be making a substantial donation towards education, the details to be announced at a later time. It is my belief too that when we do well, whether it is in business or some other field, we should translate our success into opportunities for others. I see the opening of this hotel as the start of new opportunities for many others. And I wish to thank Chairman Lim and Chip Eng Seng for your belief in education and your dedication to creating opportunities for our students. In this way, you are living the values of service to others that I often speak about to our students, you are showing by example how to create value, with values.

14. So, creating value, with values. I hope you will continue to do so, and that many others can do likewise. I am glad that our agencies, like WDA and our educational institutes, can work together with you on your journey of creating values and cultivating values.

15. I wish you all the best. Congratulations!

Thank you.