PM Lee Hsien Loong at Inauguration of the Metropolis

PM Lee Hsien Loong | 3 November 2014

Speech by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at Inauguration of the Metropolis on 3 November 2014.


Mr Chua Thian Poh, Chairman, Ho Bee Land

Board and Management of Ho Bee Land

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

I am delighted to join you this morning for the official opening of The Metropolis. I am also happy that Ho Bee Land has decided to open a high quality building here in one-north – the first of its kind in one-north.  Now we have the first Grade A offices and more good jobs created in this regional centre, as well as beautiful public spaces adorned with sculptures adding to the vibrancy and life of the area. Well done and congratulations Ho Bee Land, for breaking new ground!

We have worked hard to establish Singapore as a business-friendly hub and the World Bank has ranked us first in the ease of doing business in the world, now for eight years in a row. One of our competitive advantages is our well-planned and business-friendly infrastructure. When we master plan, we ensure that we put aside  sufficient land to grow the economy. We aim for workers to get to work conveniently, through our transport network.  We provide adequate amenities at workplace and   where possible, we cluster similar activities together to foster interaction and exchange of ideas and to enable companies to share common facilities so that they can improve their productivity and reduce their business cost.

Therefore, we have been building regional centres that are just as high quality as the Central Business District (CBD), where workers can live, work and play – for example, in Jurong East, Tampines and Paya Lebar as well as here, in one-north. One-north is taking off. We started the master-planning for one-north 15 years ago, with JTC as the master developer and we envisioned one-north to be a hub for R&D and high-tech activities in Biomedical Sciences, IT, Media, Physical sciences and Engineering industries; a place where businesses and workers can enjoy a vibrant environment conducive to collaboration.  So we planned for F&B outlets, retail spaces, childcare centres, gyms and parks, which provide lush greenery and ample recreational spaces for families and for people to meet and enjoy the environment. Today, one-north has established itself, even internationally – it is home to some of the world’s leading R&D companies and research talents. For example, Proctor & Gamble recently opened their $250 million Singapore Innovation Centre in Biopolis, housing 500 researchers and we have the Danish company Vestas Wind Systems A/S, a global leader in wind power solutions, which has located its R&D Hub for Asia at the Fusionopolis and this is one of its biggest research centres outside Denmark, employing over 400 R&D engineers. All in all, one-north has created 24,000 good jobs for people.

The Government will continue to develop innovative spaces and create work environments which are favourable because this is how we can anchor good companies in Singapore and create good jobs for Singaporeans. To achieve this vision, we need to partner with the private sector because you have the expertise to provide high-quality developments that businesses and workers need, to create dynamic environments conducive to interaction and collaboration. The Metropolis exemplifies this. It has attracted reputable MNCs as tenants – leading companies such as Boston Scientific, P&G, Neptune Orient Lines and General Electric, employing over 9,000 people. That is what we are trying to do all over our regional centres. Besides having a business-friendly infrastructure, to grow our economy we must also equip our workers so they can compete globally.

Hence, in this year’s NDR, I announced that DPM Tharman would chair the SkillsFuture Council to drive our efforts to develop the skills of the future.  The SkillsFuture Council will put a strong emphasis on learning throughout life and create multiple pathways to success based on skills. We have just set up the SkillsFuture Council, this is the first step in a long journey. To kick it off and support this journey and to mark our SG50 celebrations, the Council is setting up a SkillsFuture Jubilee Fund to get the effort off to a good start. The Fund will be used for study awards to those who wish to pursue mastery and it will focus on those who are already in the workforce and aim at encouraging mastery in every skill and every industry. The fund will solicit donations from employers and unions and the Government will match dollar for dollar and the target size of the fund is $30 million.

When Thian Poh told me he would like to make a donation to mark the Inauguration of The Metropolis, I suggested that he make it to the SkillFuture Jubilee Fund. I am very happy that he has agreed and has made a very generous donation of $5 million. I would like to thank Thian Poh and Ho Bee Land for their contribution, because together with the government’s matching amount, this will create opportunities for our workers to pursue their dreams and to scale greater heights.

Keeping our economy competitive and creating opportunities for our workers to do well is a national effort. In Singapore, we have succeeded over the years because the Government, the private sector and the workers have come together to overcome our economic challenges. I am confident that if we continue to work together, businesses will prosper and workers will see their incomes rise and their lives improve. Congratulations to Ho Bee Land once more, and I wish all the businesses and workers here success in the years to come.

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