Speech by DPM and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat at the Opening Ceremony for STMicroelectronics' New Fab Investment on 17 September 2019.
Mr Jean-Marc Chery, President and CEO of STMicroelectronics,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning everyone.
It gives me great pleasure to inaugurate STMicroelectronics’ (ST) latest wafer fabrication facility in Singapore.
Today’s occasion is particularly meaningful because this year marks the 50th year of ST’s operations in Singapore, and 50 years of partnership between ST and Singapore.
My heartiest congratulations to Mr Chery and the ST team on this very happy occasion!
Singapore and ST: 50 years of partnership
ST is an old and committed friend of Singapore.
50 years ago, in 1969, Singapore had only recently gained independence. With the impending withdrawal of the British military from Singapore, we were faced with the prospect of mass unemployment
There was an urgent need to build up Singapore’s economy and create jobs for our people.
Dr Goh Keng Swee and our pioneer leaders decided that Singapore had to attract foreign direct investments, especially in manufacturing.
ST, then known as SGS1 was still a young company. Founded in 1957, SGS was actually not much older than Singapore.
But it was one of the first semiconductor companies that took the plunge with us.
It set up one of the first assembly and test manufacturing operations in Boon Keng, before moving to Toa Payoh when its operations expanded.
Later, as Singapore moved up the value chain to more capital-intensive manufacturing, ST built Asia's first 5-inch wafer fabrication facility in Ang Mo Kio.
Over the years, ST has continually invested and upgraded its Ang Mo Kio facility.
From a 5-inch operation, the facility was converted to a 6-inch one in the 90s, and then to an 8-inch one in the 2000s.
Mr Chery will know this well. Having served a previous stint in Singapore as the General Manager for manufacturing from 2006 to 2008, he had been instrumental in upgrading and expanding ST’s operations in Singapore. In the past two decades alone, ST has invested more than 5 billion US dollars here.
Today, both the Toa Payoh and Ang Mo Kio facilities are amongst ST’s most advanced and productive sites in the world. The team here has also growth significantly.
Starting with slightly more than 100 staff in Singapore fifty years ago, ST now has close to 5,000 staff.
That’s a 50 times growth in employment in 50 years!
This fruitful partnership between ST and Singapore has endured through economic crises and challenges. We have come through each one of these stronger.
During challenging economic conditions, the Singapore government worked closely with companies like ST, to retrain and upskill existing workers. As a result, our workforce could emerge stronger and more capable from these difficult periods.
The ST team also adapted through each down cycle, taking advantage of the slowdown to develop new technology and offer new products. This was, in fact, how ST transformed from a struggling company in the 70s, into a major player in the global semiconductor industry today.
I am glad that ST and Singapore have been able to grow together for the past 50 years.
Both ST and Singapore started small.
But we shared a can-do spirit that has allowed us to overcome our challenges, stay ahead of the competition, and make our mark on the world stage.
ST’s long history here is itself a vote of confidence in Singapore.
The company has long believed in our potential as a location for microelectronics, especially former President and CEO Pasquale Pistorio.
Pasquale was a champion of our semiconductor industry, and his vision was instrumental in making Singapore a key location for wafer fabrication today.
For his contributions to our semiconductor industry, the Singapore Government conferred Pasquale the inaugural Honorary Citizen award in 2003.
More broadly, ST’s investments here affirm our approach to the economy – one that is both pro-business and pro-worker, and based on a strong commitment to forge win-win partnerships with our stakeholders.
They also reflect ST’s own strategic perspective, and how the company always has an eye towards the long term.
Investing for the long term
In fact, ST’s latest investment here is in line with its strategic perspective, because the future of the global semiconductor industry is still bright, despite the industry slowdown today.
The current slowdown is largely due to global economic uncertainties and weaker demand from some end markets, especially consumer electronics.
That said, the global semiconductor industry has enjoyed strong growth in the preceding few years, with fresh demand driven by new applications in the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence and mobility services.
One growing application is autonomous vehicles or AVs.
Each AV requires 7 to 10 times more semiconductors than a conventional vehicle, because the central computer has to communicate with various sensors and batteries.
In fact, between electric vehicles and AVs, the global automotive industry semiconductor market is expected to increase from US 37.4 billion dollars in 2017, to more than US 58.5 billion dollars in 2023.2
To take advantage of this growth potential, ST is already taking steps to augment its strength in areas such as car electrification and digitalisation, as well as other high-growth industrial processes.
It is investing heavily to develop more specialty products for these areas, and this new facility in Singapore will certainly put the company in a good position to do so. As Mr Chery mentioned, this investment will more than double ST’s 8-inch manufacturing capacity in Singapore.
Mr Chery also mentioned about mobility, smart devices and all the Internet of Things (IoT) and, in fact, Singapore is partnering 26 cities in ASEAN to develop smart cities and it is part of our smart nation efforts.
In Singapore, I am also the Chairman of the National Research Foundation and looking at technology developments around the world, we believe that integrated advanced manufacturing will be one key trend making use of the IoT and all the smart devices so we are investing in this area and we are also investing in our urban solutions and sustainability because we believe that as the population in the world increases, including in Asia, the need for better management of cities- to have cities that are smart, green, sustainable- will be key to also meeting our challenge of climate change.
These are important areas of work and I hope that we can continue to partner one another.
I expect that very soon, many of us will be using the next-generation power chips and microcontrollers from this new facility, in vehicles and homes around the world!
ST invests in its people
Another key area where ST invests strategically in is its people.
Production Manager Calvin Goh’s journey within the company is a good example.
Calvin graduated from Ngee Ann Polytechnic and joined ST as a Manufacturing Supervisor in 1997 – 22 years ago.
Over the years, with ST’s support, Calvin furthered his education and upgraded his skills.
He obtained an engineering degree from Coventry University in 2007, and earned a Certification for Supply Chain Professional last year.
Today, Calvin has been made a Production Manager for ST’s new plant, where he can put his new skills to good use. He now oversees the production activities of the plant, including managing the supply chain activities, and driving productivity and quality improvement initiatives.
And I am glad to know that Calvin is not the only one.
There are many other ST employees who have been with ST for decades, growing over the years to take on new responsibilities, and are still enjoying fulfilling careers with the company.
Besides investing in its existing employees, ST is also invested in building up our local talent pool.
We see this in ST’s active partnerships with our Institutes of Higher Learning.
For example, ST is a sponsoring company for the Work-Learn Technical Diploma in Microelectronics that was launched earlier this year.
Under this programme, graduates from our Institutes of Technical Education (ITE) join a sponsor company to undergo on-the-job training and practice.
At the same time, they continue to attend additional theory and practical classes at their school.
With the strong emphasis on applied learning in this programme, the graduates will be better placed to gain a head start in careers related to their studies and become masters in their trade.
In fact, I understand that ST just took in 12 new graduates from the pioneer intake of students in the Work Learn Technical Diploma in Microelectronics this year. I wish these new graduates a fruitful career.
ST’s investment to expand its Ang Mo Kio site here will mean even more skilled jobs for our people – more than 400 to be precise.
I am very happy that more of our people will have this opportunity to join the ST family, and have a meaningful career.
As a corporate citizen, ST is truly living out your values of putting people first.3
Similarly, in Singapore, our people have always been at the heart of all our efforts to transform and grow our economy.
We want to create good jobs for them, and support them to develop the skills and competencies to access these jobs.
As we work towards the next lap of our development, I will like to welcome even more companies like ST to invest in our people and grow together, and welcome ST to invest more.
It is through these partnerships – between companies, workers and the Government – that we will continue to create new opportunities for our people.
In closing, I would like to congratulate ST once again on the opening of the new wafer fabrication facility and on your 50th anniversary in Singapore.
I greatly appreciate your contributions to Singapore over the last 50 years. I hope that our close partnership will only grow from strength to strength in the years ahead, as ST and Singapore continue to work together and upgrade ourselves for the future.
 Società Generale Semiconduttori
 Source: Electronics Sourcing Online, “Electric Vehicles, Autonomous Cars Will Boost Chip Demand by Automakers”, 1 March 2018
 ST’s values as spelled out in its Code of Conduct are “Integrity, People, Excellence”.
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