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Speech by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Finance, at the Real Estate Developer's Association of Singapore (REDAS) 56th Anniversary Dinner

05 Nov 2015


Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening.

1. It gives me great pleasure to join you today in celebrating REDAS’s 56th anniversary in this jubilee year for Singapore.

Promoting Sustainability in Urban Development

2. Land is a scarce resource in any country, and in Singapore, even more so. It is therefore critical that we optimise our land use, to yield maximum social and economic benefits. This means making Singapore a great place to live, work and play. It also means that our land policy must provide an anchor for a vibrant, competitive economy so that Singaporeans can enjoy a good standard of living.

3. Over the past decades, the Government and people, together with industry leaders, have successfully transformed our island into one of the most liveable cities in Asia. The emphasis throughout has been in seeking sustainable development in land-constrained Singapore. I would like to highlight two aspects of how we have sought to achieve sustainable development.

4. The first aspect of sustainable development is in the environmental sense. We have consistently adhered to a policy of judicious land use planning and placed importance on intelligent urban design. In this effort, REDAS members have played a vital role in shaping our environmental landscape, transforming many parts of our country into attractive places to live, work and play. In recent years, REDAS members have brought to life the concepts of sustainability, recyclability, and barrier-free accessibility design in our homes and workplaces. We are seeing the fruits of these efforts: commercial buildings with green mark standards for conserving energy, green walls to enhance the environment, eco-homes utilising recyclable materials, energy-saving lighting, solar panels for renewable energy, as well as barrier-free buildings for the physically challenged.

5. The progression in our environmental landscape also means that design spaces have become accessible for everyone. Our flats now have levered door handles instead of doorknobs, for greater ease of use by the elderly. Corridors and paths have been installed with slip-resistant kerb ramps to cater to the growing number of older persons with limited mobility, and wheelchair users. Our built environment has been transformed into one that is “designed for all people”, and our real estate developers continue to make huge efforts in creating a sustainable and enjoyable environment for all segments of our society.

6. Furthermore, developers have shown positive commitment in conserving energy and water in our built environment. The innovative eco-designs include the installation of motion sensors for lightings, harvesting rainwater for green spaces, and the provision of charging stations for electric or hybrid cars. We hope these creative ideas can be a role model for all to do their part in protecting our environment, so as to preserve it for our future generations.

7. The second aspect of sustainable development is in the economic sense. The industry, homeowners and the Government have a shared interest in ensuring a stable and sustainable property market. Indeed, the US subprime debacle and the ensuing Global Financial Crisis in 2007-08 have reminded us starkly of the perils of credit and property bubbles, and the risks of asset markets becoming decoupled from the economy’s underlying fundamentals. The consequences have been severe in the US, as a housing market collapse quickly cascaded to the financial system and led to a recession, not just in the US, but in the rest of the global economy.

8. In Singapore, we have from time to time experienced swings in the property market, but by and large, these have not led to volatility in the broader economy. The Government has always taken a medium-term approach towards managing land supply, based on fundamental demographic and economic factors, and has encouraged a competitive and transparent environment to ensure a well-functioning property market. When necessary, we have judiciously used targeted prudential and fiscal measures to smooth out the cycles and promote market sustainability over the medium term.

9. We have made significant strides in our urban development. Advancing into the next 50 years will be no less challenging, but I am confident that young Singaporeans will step to the fore to continue pushing the envelope. We can look forward to more exciting and inspiring developments that will propel Singapore towards becoming an even better home for our people.

Commemorating SG50

10. On this note, I am pleased to note that REDAS has organised a number of activities for their members, business partners and the community in commemoration of SG50.

11. REDAS has set up “The REDAS Foundation” to improve the lives of those in need. The Foundation will be presenting a $100,000 donation to Arc Children’s Centre, which enriches the lives of children with cancer and life-threatening illnesses. REDAS’ contribution will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Government as part of the SG50 Care & Share Movement, and it will go towards customised arts and music programmes for the children. I thank REDAS for making a difference to the children.

12. Earlier this year, REDAS launched a youth mentorship programme for thought leaders and students from local universities, to come together to create urban solutions for Singapore’s built environment of the future. This mentoring programme allows us to develop our greatest resource – people. Through this exchange, our young leaders were given the opportunity to acquire the relevant skills and expertise in creating quality spaces for the future of Singapore.

13. And to bring art closer to Singaporeans, REDAS has contributed a $250,000 public artwork for the SG50 Jubilee Walk. The artwork is a spherical audio sculpture by local artist Baet Yeok Kuan titled “24 Hours in Singapore”, which features recordings of everyday life. This initiative will make Singapore a delightful place to be in and offer a diversity of living experiences for all. I’d like to thank REDAS for your commitment to promoting and preserving Singapore’s artistic heritage.


14. Once again, congratulations on your 56th anniversary. Let us keep working together to make Singapore a great place for Singaporeans to live, work, play – a great place we are proud to call our home. Thank you and have an enjoyable evening.