Speech by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, at the Time Capsule Installation Ceremony and the Launch of JTC’s Green Pledge & Climate Action Goals
Chairman of JTC, Dr Loo Choon Yong,
CEO of JTC, Ng Lang,
Friends and colleagues,
- Thank you for having me here at this JTC50 celebration at the refurbished Jurong Town Hall. I am honoured to be here today to install JTC’s 50th anniversary time capsule which contains items that are symbolic of Singapore’s industrialisation journey, including products designed or made in Singapore. This serves as a reminder of JTC’s and industrialists’ contributions towards Singapore’s economic transformation.
- On this day 50 years ago, the Jurong Town Corporation was set up as a dedicated agency to develop and manage industrial estates in Singapore. At that time, Singapore was a young nation struggling with a bleak economic outlook and high unemployment. Thanks to the strong leadership of first generation leaders like then-Finance Minister Dr Goh Keng Swee, JTC successfully transformed Jurong into a vibrant industrial estate. It is thus befitting that we are back at the building which served as JTC’s headquarters during part of that pioneering era.
Supporting Industrialists in Singapore’s Journey from Third World to First
- Dr Goh and the JTC team worked with others to pen a new, exciting chapter in our country’s economic story. Your efforts brought investments and jobs, improving the livelihoods of many Singaporeans. You strengthened Singapore’s international reputation for quality and excellence, and inspired industry and enterprises to dream big and work hard to achieve their ambitions.
- As Singapore journeyed from third world to first, JTC was there every step of the way. Quietly and doggedly working behind the scenes, JTC made sure that industrialists were not limited by Singapore’s physical constraints, in pursuing growth for their companies and Singapore. JTC took bold steps to grow and transform industries with game-changing infrastructure like Singapore Science Park, Jurong Island, and Jurong Rock Caverns.
- 50 years on, both Singapore and JTC have come a long way. We have transformed the concept of flatted factories into innovative spaces like the Food Hub and Surface Engineering Hub for SMEs to collaborate and grow their business. All public sector industrial and land properties, including those formerly owned by HDB, have now been consolidated under JTC. It offers an opportunity for JTC to maximise the synergies between these properties, to provide SMEs with one-stop access to the full range of customised industrial facilities. We want to support SMEs in the different stages of their growth, and to help them build new capabilities for the future.
- For instance, Lin Wah Engineering Works, a company specialising in the supply and installation of packaging lines, was taking up a single unit at the AMK Tech 1 in Ang Mo Kio Industrial Park. They were looking to expand their operations, and JTC was able to offer them three side-by-side units at the new JTC Space @ Tampines North. With the technical specifications like high floor loading and high ceiling height, they are able to consolidate their heavy and light manufacturing operations and achieve greater operational efficiency and productivity. From estates with mainly heavy industry, we now have a mix of high-tech R&D clusters, test-bedding platforms and dedicated space for start-ups. Soon, we will see work spaces of the future in places like Punggol Digital District and Jurong Innovation District, where we design and integrate technology and services right from the start, to transform the way we work, live, learn and play in a vibrant and sustainable environment.
Building Singapore, Nurturing the Next Generation
- None of these would have been possible without the tenacity and the pioneering spirit of JTC officers who have worked tirelessly to make these projects happen. This was especially true in the early days, when our pioneers had to overcome many challenges. They had to travel long distances across muddy and pothole-filled terrain to get to the development sites. JTC resettlement officers had to go to kampongs to calculate the compensation amount for every household, by measuring the dimensions of the entire house, including the chicken coop, and even counting the number of fruit trees the villagers had! But they were never afraid to face hardship and adversity. As we say in Hokkien ‘pa si buay zhao’ - die die also must stand our ground to achieve our mission. Our JTC officers put their shoulders to the wheels and got the projects moving. Each and every one of them has played an important part in shaping Singapore’s economy. We, the younger generation of Singaporeans, owe you a debt of gratitude for your contributions to our country’s progress and development.
- Over the years, JTC has nurtured a strong core of talent to design, develop and maintain JTC’s diverse portfolio of infrastructure solutions. Many of JTC’s projects are first-of-its-kind and highly complex. For instance, the Jurong Rock Caverns is South-east Asia’s first sub-terranean facility for commercial oil storage, built more than 40 storeys below the seabed. The project saw many unprecedented engineering challenges. There were instances where water flooded the tunnels during excavation. Despite the immense time pressure, the team persevered. They worked tirelessly with the consultants and other experts to find practical solutions to tackle the challenges encountered. When one plan failed, they tried another, then another, until they found a workable solution. This is an example of JTC’s can-do spirit and commitment to deliver.
- Today, JTC is the Centre of Excellence for Building & Infrastructure and Underground Caverns. This is a testament to the deep technical expertise, trust and assurance that JTC and our officers have contributed to Singapore and the public service.
- To all the staff of JTC past and present, thank you for your dedication and hard work; thank you for your courage to experiment with new ideas and break new ground; and thank you for serving with conviction and contributing to Singapore’s growth and progress over the past 50 years.
Building for the Next 50 Years
- Ladies and gentlemen, we are not done building Singapore. As JTC continues to develop Singapore’s industrial landscape for the next 50 years, it needs to remain a world-leader in this area by making good use of technology and innovation to enhance Singapore’s competitiveness. In that regard, JTC has continuously pushed the boundaries to pioneer large-scale and game-changing initiatives across its projects. For instance, at the upcoming Punggol Digital District, JTC and its partner agencies aim to establish a district-level digital platform. By creating an open platform, companies are able to harness big data and the Internet-of-Things to experiment and create new products and services. Ideas and solutions that are successful can then be commercialised and scaled-up in other districts. This will help bring Singapore to the forefront of the digital and cybersecurity industry, which is a key growth engine that could generate many good jobs and economic opportunities for our people.
- JTC also needs to continue to safeguard Singapore’s liveability and attractiveness as an attractive location for business, ideas and talent. Singapore has distinguished ourselves as a leading Asian economy by being able to strike a balance between pursuing economic growth and achieving a green and liveable environment. We have witnessed innovations in how JTC builds and manages its industrial estates over the years. For example, JTC has adopted renewable energy sources and developed smarter systems to optimise resource utilisation.
- I am pleased to know that JTC aims to take this further, by working together with its industry partners to make its industrial estates even greener and more environmentally sustainable. As part of its 50th anniversary celebrations, JTC is pledging to support global and national climate action. This is timely, as 2018 is also Singapore’s Year of Climate Action.
- As a sustainable developer, JTC has been adopting environmentally-friendly practices in its planning, development and management of its industry spaces and innovation districts. To build on its existing strengths, JTC has developed an Environmental Sustainability Framework that will be applied across its entire portfolio of properties to further reduce energy and water usage, shrink its emissions footprint, and increase its use of clean energy.
- JTC will also be partnering organisations and communities to jointly create a more sustainable future for Singapore. JTC’s customers and partners can make contributions through the Garden City Fund, which will support three initiatives. First, companies can contribute towards greening efforts across JTC’s industrial estates and business parks through the “Plant-a-Tree” initiative. Next, they can sponsor the “Grow-a-Reef Garden” project to preserve marine biodiversity through the installation of artificial reef structures at Sisters’ Islands Marine Park. And third, they can donate to the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ Seed Bank to safeguard plant diversity through seed collection efforts.
- Let me conclude by congratulating JTC once again on achieving 50 years of success. You have come a long way.
- As your role evolves in tandem with the future economy, I am confident you will continue to grow from strength to strength to build industry spaces that are future-ready and sustainable, and a talented workforce that will be the envy of many around the world. Above all, maintain that pioneering, can-do spirit among your people so that you can lead the way to create a stronger economy for Singapore and a better future for all Singaporeans.
- Thank you.