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Speech by Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat at Joint Opening Ceremony of SIA Conference, ArchXpo 2018, and the International Facility Management Conference and Expo 2018, 2 Oct 2018, 10am at Marina Bay Sands

02 Oct 2018
Mr Edward Liu, PBM
Group Managing Director, Conference & Exhibition Management Services Pte Ltd 

Mr Tony Khoo
President, International Facility Management Association Singapore Chapter 

Mr Seah Chee Huang
President, Singapore Institute of Architects 

Presidents and Leaders of our trade associations and Ambassadors,

Ladies and Gentlemen

1. Good morning. Thank you for inviting me to the joint opening ceremony of the SIA Conference, ArchXpo 2018 and the International Facility Management Conference and Expo 2018.

2. When Chee Huang mentioned earlier that 1 October was Architects’ Day, Edward leant over to me and said, “1 October was also Seniors’ Day.” I also remember as a child, 1 October is Children’s Day. So when I was in MOE, my colleagues and I had this tagline: “Every School is a Good School”, so I hope every day is a good day too, and that you have three good days of conferences, exhibitions, and meetings

3. This “6-in-1” event demonstrates strong partnership-in-action, bringing together architects, developers, builders, engineers, facility managers, contractors, interior designers and other stakeholders from across the design and built environment industry. I also like to welcome participants from overseas to this conference. 

a. I understand that there are other related events held here this week – LED+Light Asia, Safety & Security Asia, Fire & Disaster Asia, and Work Safe Asia. 

b. This combination of conferences and exhibitions will attract more visitors and participants, to result in greater synergies and more opportunities for collaboration in the industry.

c. I asked Edward earlier, that members of this association are competitors, and you all are also coming together, and he said, “There are some areas that we compete and there are many areas that we work together.” So how many of you have heard my story about Hawker Centres? Nobody? Then I don’t feel so bad about recycling my story.

d. Singaporeans love food and we love our hawker centres. We all have our favourite stalls in the hawker centres and we all have our favourite hawker centre. But can you think of a great hawker centre in Singapore that sells only one type of food, whatever that may be? Whether it’s chicken rice or mee siam. We can’t think of a single hawker centre that sells only one type of food. In fact, we can’t think of a shopping centre selling one type of product. 

e. If we look at this example, in any good hawker centre, we have a variety of food, and because consumers want variety. So you have many good stalls, each distinctive, but at the same time, they also work together. They work together on a common space, to keep it clean, hygienic, comfortable and so on to make it attractive. 

f. Many years ago, when I was running the Trade Development Board as the CEO, a group of our manufacturers wanted to do an exhibition in Germany. Everyone was taking a small, tiny little space so I said, “Why don’t you all combine?” My colleagues went and asked them that. Weeks past and I had no news, and I was wondering what happened. I asked my staff, and they said, “Boss, don’t get angry if we tell you. They think that you are a silly bureaucrat with no business sense. They said that they are all competitors, and how can competitors go together to exhibit Singapore’s products?” I said that I was prepared to give them a big banner to sell their Singapore products, but my staff said, “No no, they think you are stupid, no business sense.” So I said okay, never mind. I approved each of the 5 or 6 grants, and I was quite happy that years later, they all came together, not only to exhibit together but also to put the products on to the Chinese shopping mall, T-Mall, and they told me that business has been a lot better. 

g. This is a classic example of how we collaborate as well as compete, and at the same time in doing that, we bring the whole industry up and when the whole industry is up, I think all of us will benefit. So I hope that we will work closely together to do this.

4. Now, let me talk about some trends that are happening. In Singapore we have growing opportunities, but beyond Singapore, there are growing opportunities to meet new needs in ASEAN and other parts of Asia and in the world, and to cooperate across borders. 

a. The economic centre of gravity is shifting to Asia. 

i. IMF has projected Asia to continue as the world’s fastest growing region, with annual GDP growth averaging 6.4% over the next five years. 
ii. China and India are the world’s most populous countries of the world, accounting for 36% of total world population. 
iii. ASEAN is projected to become the fourth largest single market by 2030, after the EU, US and China.
iv. ASEAN’s population itself is over 650 million. So if you add the population in Asia, it is a huge population, almost half the world.

b. The growth of Asia will result in rapid urbanisation and more demand for infrastructure and buildings. 

5. Singapore is the Chair of ASEAN this year. We are working on initiatives to facilitate collaboration and catalyse projects across the region. 

a. For example, we have set up the Infrastructure Asia office. This will help to facilitate the matching of demand and supply, by bringing local and international players from across the value chain to come together to build, finance, and execute infrastructure projects.

b. Singapore is organising the Asia Singapore Infrastructure Roundtable on 23 October, to focus on ASEAN infrastructure projects. We welcome all of you to take part in the event. 

c. We have also initiated the ASEAN Smart Cities Network with 26 cities coming together to work with the private sector to undertake projects.

Building Singapore into a green, highly liveable and smart city

6. Over the years, Singapore has built a green, highly liveable and smart city. 

a. Many of you here helped to build essential infrastructure, housing, skyscrapers and landmarks. Our beautiful skyline and lovely buildings owe much to your efforts over the years.

b. Singaporeans, from our early days, planted millions of trees and shrubs, transforming Singapore from a Garden City to a ‘City in a Garden’ where greenery has become a major feature in Singapore’s landscape. Today, nearly half of our island is covered in greenery. We got to thank our founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, for his vision.

c. We have also built Active, Beautiful, Clean (ABC) waterways, reservoirs and park connectors, linking up parks, nature sites, and our housing estates. These facilities enhance our living environment, enabling our residents to have easy access to nature in an urban space. 

d. We have rejuvenated our towns. Punggol, Yishun, Dawson, East Coast, Hougang, Jurong Lake have all benefitted from the Remaking Our Heartlands initiative. More recently, we finalised renewal plans for Woodlands, Toa Payoh and Pasir Ris. 

e. We have also designed new buildings and social places that help to promote interaction and bonding among our residents. 

i. For example, Our Tampines Hub is Singapore’s first and largest integrated community and lifestyle hub. Residents can access the services of multiple agencies, and at the same time enjoy multiple facilities such as swimming pools, sports halls, library, clinics, community club and hawker centre. In fact, the President of SIA, Chee Huang, is our architect for this Hub. 
ii. Projects like Kampong Admiralty and Hearbeat at Bedok are further examples of integrated developments or “vertical kampongs”, where we take care of our young and old in one well-designed integrated development. So this melding of social spaces, to promote interactions is what we have to pay even more attention to, as we undergo demographic transition. 
iii. HDB’s new towns like Bidadari and Tengah will be even more sustainable than Ponggol, with cycling tracks, greenery and water, and Tengah will be a forest town.  

f. Singapore has come a long way. But as Minister for National Development, Lawrence Wong has said, “We are not done building Singapore”.

7. Indeed, there are exciting work ahead, to make Singapore an even more endearing and liveable city.  Let me suggest three areas where we can create leverage – urban design, productivity and technology. 

Urban design 

8. First, urban design. Good urban design, which we have put so much emphasis on over the years, enables us to build Singapore into an endearing home and a distinctive global city. This will become even more important in the years ahead. Through urban design, we shape physical buildings and their architecture, as well as how spaces between them can become attractive spaces for the community. 

a. In an increasingly globalised world, cities can become similar with ubiquitous skyscrapers and typical big box shopping malls. Good urban design enhances a city’s character and identity.  

b. Singapore faces land and space constraints, with competing needs for residences, industries, leisure and amenities. But good urban design enables us to turn this into an advantage, enhancing our vibrancy and attractiveness as a city to live, work and play. 

c. In fact, Tom Friedman wrote a book about the world being flat, but someone else wrote a book and said the world is spikey, because economic activities are becoming more and more concentrated in a few key centres, in a few big cities. So in America, New York is in New York, Silicon Valley is in Silicon Valley, and you are seeing the same developments in China. Whether big or small, cities are becoming more and more important. We must link up to all the major cities of the world with that vibrancy.

9. Singapore must continue to find innovative and sustainable ways to improve urban design and enhance our liveability, to build a better home for our future generations. 

a. Beyond being a green and accessible city, URA is strengthening the character and identity of our various districts, and ensuring that the re-development of specific locations complement the conserved buildings and architecture nearby. 

b. URA’s latest announcements of pilot business districts, to encourage building owners to take initiative in placemaking and programming, will enable us to make the best use of the space we have.

c. As we create more economic centres outside the Central Area like Jurong, Woodlands and Punggol, and rejuvenate our towns under the expanded Home Improvement Programme (HIP) and HIP II announced by the Prime Minister at the National Day Rally, it is important that we give the same level of care in urban design to ensure a high quality environment. 

d. Singapore has launched Cities of Tomorrow with $150 million from the National Research Foundation (NRF) to fund collaborative R&D in urban solutions. 


10. Advancements and improvements in urban design will require more productive methods and pervasive use of technology. I will touch on the second key thing that we will need to do, which is productivity improvement. 

11. The industry is making good progress. Site productivity has improved by 12% from 2010 to 2017. Firms are also adopting more productive methods. 

a. For example, Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA) and Pre-fabricated Pre-finished Volumetric Construction (PPVC) enable work traditionally done onsite to move into controlled factory environments. This makes the onsite installation process more efficient.

b. In turn, this improves safety for workers and reduces disamenities for residents around the construction site.

c. The industry has already doubled DfMA adoption from 10% in 2016 to almost 20% in 2017. Let’s press on to achieve the Construction Industry Transformation Map (ITM) target of 40% adoption by 2020! 

12. We are now integrating the various sector ITMs for Construction, Real Estate, Security and Environmental Services into the Built Environment cluster ITM. The cluster ITM will promote innovation, deepen capabilities, encourage partnerships, and maximise opportunities for collaboration across the constituent sectors.

13. Besides the cluster ITM, I also announced at Budget 2018, the expansion of the National Robotics Programme to encourage the wider use of robotics in the built environment sector to transform work processes.

14. Even as we improve productivity and introduce new initiatives, we can achieve more and better results by leveraging and integrating technologies. 


15. So the third area that I would like to speak on is the use of technology. The emergence of new technologies will open up new possibilities in design, construction, and facilities management. As the pace of technological advancement accelerates, moving fast and moving first are key to staying competitive. 

16. Firms are going digital, using Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Integrated Digital Delivery (IDD). These have many applications to facilitate collaboration, achieve synergies and better outcomes.  

a. For example, besides optimising building design, BIM can help to track construction progress, cash flow, logistics and even spatial location of onsite workers to enhance safety.

b. IDD can help to integrate stakeholders and processes across different points in the value chain. 

i. Architects and facility managers can collaborate by injecting lifecycle perspectives upfront at the design stage, to optimise facilities management downstream. This can yield lifecycle cost savings, and make buildings more efficient, green and sustainable. 

17. We can further integrate different technologies and the use of data to achieve even better outcomes. 

a. For example, cloud technology, the Internet of Things, and Big Data, can enable the deployment of a network of smart sensors across a building to optimise facilities management.

i. As an example, BCA has developed a smart chiller portal that provides real-time monitoring of the air-conditioning system. The portal alerts facility managers when the energy performance of their air-conditioning system deviates from its optimal level. This allows the facility managers to take timely corrective actions to prevent energy wastage. The portal was developed as a pilot project with support from NRF, and is now open to Green Mark buildings, following a successful trial of 20 buildings.

b. Real-time monitoring and predictive analytics can be applied to detect teething problems before they emerge. 

i. For example, lift companies can use machine learning to identify possible root causes of lift fault. They can also pre-empt component failure with predictive analytics before the lift breaks down. 

c. Technology can also be harnessed to improve service delivery to end users in a building. For example, facial recognition and data analytics can provide tailored suggestions on the shops that are most likely to be of interest to customers. This personalises and enhances the retail experience.


18. Let me conclude. To continue building Singapore into a green, highly liveable and smart city, our stakeholders in our design and built environment and facilities management must come together and collaborate.  As a start, I have suggested three areas of leverage – urban design, productivity, and technology. 

19. I am glad to see that these are reflected in the themes of your conferences today – “Design for Life, People, Time, Environment”, and “Embracing Innovation, Leveraging Technology”.

20. We have all the stakeholders gathered here ready to discuss ideas, showcase technologies, products and services, and form partnerships with one another locally and abroad. Through these ways, we can strengthen Singapore as a Global Asia node of Technology, Innovation and Enterprise.  

21. Edward thanked me for coming to this conference, and the message that Tony gave earlier on was that he hoped that all of you will be successful. In fact, that is the reason why I took time to be here. I hope that all of you are highly successful and that you will make lots of money. Do you know why? The more money you make; the more taxes I collect! 

22. I wish you fruitful discussions, and look forward to touring your exhibition. Thank you.