Opening Remarks by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong at Grab’s 10th Anniversary Celebrations & Opening of one-north Headquarters on 11 August 2022.
Mr Anthony Tan, Group CEO & Co-Founder of Grab,
Ms Tan Hooi Ling, Co-Founder of Grab,
Excellencies and Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very happy to join you this morning to celebrate Grab’s 10th Anniversary and the Opening of Grab’s Headquarters here at One-North, Singapore.
It is very fitting that we are doing this shortly after our National Day celebrations this week, because after more than two years of tackling the pandemic together, I think there is much to celebrate and much to give thanks for. In particular, for all of us who went through the worst of the pandemic – adapting to home-based learning for our children and working from home – I am sure all of us are grateful to our Grab drivers and delivery riders who helped us through the past two and a half years. I want to start by thanking everyone at Grab – the management team, the staff, and all you “Grabbers”. Thank you very much. I also want to give a shout out to those who participated in the National Day Parada this year. It was the first time that Grab had participated in a contingent in our National Day Parade, and we are very grateful for your participation. I think it is great that you are showcasing yourself not just as a regional tech company, but one with a strong Singaporean identity – you have shown that by flying the flag high and being there at the National Day Parade for the first time, and we hope to see you in future years as well. Thank you.
As we have heard from Grab CEO Anthony Tan just now, Grab’s journey over the past 10 years has been an inspiring one, for all of us. For Singaporeans in particular, it is a story that is familiar to us, because it is a story about the underdog succeeding against all odds and making the impossible possible – just like the Singapore story. Like Singapore, Grab started from humble beginnings. You had to grow from virtually nothing, and you had to confront and overcome challenges along the way. 10 years ago, most of us used our phones to talk, maybe to search the internet, but certainly not to purchase goods and services. You also had to convince both drivers and riders to use a new platform no one had heard of. And you had to confront the complex and fragmented Southeast Asian market, which was difficult to penetrate and expand into, as well as face down larger competitors too.
But like Singapore, Grab addressed your challenges head on; you converted vulnerabilities into opportunities. And like Singapore, Grab survived and prospered through the sheer grit, ingenuity and hard work of your people.
That is why today, Grab has grown from a small ride-hailing platform to a leading super-app in Southeast Asia. It now covers a wide range of services, from ride-hailing to deliveries and even financial services soon. You have expanded to 480 cities in 8 countries across Southeast Asia, with millions of users. I think in some places, when people say “taking a Grab”, it has become synonymous with saying you are calling a taxi. So it is really remarkable to see what you have achieved over this past decade. My heartiest congratulations to all of you on your 10th Anniversary!
Of course, today we are also here to mark another major milestone in Grab’s history with the opening of your new headquarters. It will house close to 3,000 Grab employees, bringing together diverse talent across Grab’s various operations. And you are well located at JTC’s one-north business park, which is already an innovation hub home to other local tech companies like Razer and Sea Group. I have no doubt that this headquarters will help Grab realise new collaborations and partnerships and will help drive growth in the years to come. Yet another congratulations to Grab on your new headquarters!
Looking ahead, we all know that there are dark clouds over the horizon. At the present time, there are major uncertainties in the global economic outlook. The ongoing Ukraine War and continued supply chain disruptions have resulted in higher inflation, increasing costs for both businesses and households. And of course, we also face heightened geo-political tensions, which can impact all countries in the region.
But we do not need to feel intimidated or overwhelmed by these challenges because, as Singapore and Grab has done over the years, we can continue to turn our challenges into new opportunities for growth. No one wants to go through crises in life, we all wish for peace and stability in our lifetimes. But as Singapore’s own story has shown, challenges, crises and vulnerabilities can provide impetus for growth, development and transformation. Indeed, Southeast Asia’s growth potential remains strong, especially for the tech sector. There remains a huge, untapped but fast-growing digital consumer market in Southeast Asia. So, in the midst of uncertainties and challenges, there are new opportunities ahead of us.
What is crucial and critical is therefore how we respond to the challenges around us. How we must stay united in purpose, work together to chase after new possibilities fresh possibilities, and always look out for one another. That is why I had recently launched the Forward Singapore exercise, because we want to engage Singaporeans in shaping and strengthening our social compact, and come together to chart our way forward for Singapore. This is not just a Government exercise. It is an exercise involving everyone in Singapore. On our part, the Government will create the conditions for businesses to thrive and prosper, to create a vibrant economy. At the same time, we hope that businesses and employers must also fulfill their responsibilities as part of this social compact – to invest in your workers, to ensure fair employment practices at your workplace, and to improve the quality of jobs, so that workers can continue to progress in their careers, and secure better pay and prospects over their lifetimes.
In this regard, both the Government and employers share a common objective. We both want to prepare our citizens, and our workers for future challenges. We both want to maximise their potential and the opportunities available to them. And ultimately, to ensure that even as the nation or company grows and prospers, everyone can benefit.
In short, we must pursue inclusive growth – where every citizen, and every worker matters. How can we do this? For our tech sector, it means that the Government will continue to partner and work closely with industry players like Grab to develop our tech ecosystem – by growing talent, deepening skills, and supporting innovation. It also means that we create opportunities for every citizen to participate fully in the digital economy. As you have heard from Anthony just now, I am very glad that Grab has stepped forward to contribute in all of these areas. For example, you are reaching out to your merchant partners, local SMEs and even hawkers to help them upskill and benefit from digitalisation. You have set up the Grab-NUS AI Lab from which you have seen new innovations and technologies, and you are helping to deepen R&D in AI, and to nurture local talent. You are also part of JTC’s LaunchPad Investor Network (LINK), helping start-ups on investment, innovation, and market expansion opportunities. So I want to thank Grab, Anthony and the team, for your many contributions, and I hope your commitment, your steadfast leadership and your vision to “Grab for Good” will motivate many other companies to join you and follow your leading example – so that we can all work together to realise our common vision of inclusive growth and shared prosperity for everyone in Singapore.
To conclude, Grab has been an important partner for Singapore all these years. I look forward to our continued partnership in building a stronger tech ecosystem and building a more inclusive economy and society for everyone in Singapore. There are challenges ahead, but there are also many opportunities for us to work together, and I am confident we can make the most of these opportunities if we continue this strong partnership.
Congratulations to Grab once again on your milestone and I wish you every success in the coming years and the future decades to come. Thank you very much.
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