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Speech by Minister Chan Chun Sing at E50 Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner

Speech by Minister Chan Chun Sing at E50 Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner

1 A very good evening to all of you. Many familiar faces since I was last here two years ago.

2 Today I am going to try something different. If I can direct your attention to the screen, I am going to show you a couple of pictures and photos. From there, I will share with you a simple story and that will tell us why we are here tonight.

a. Firstly, this is a picture that proudly hangs in a meeting room in EDB. Does anyone know when the picture was painted? Who painted the picture? And most importantly, what does the picture show? I am going to show you a couple more photos. 
b. Let's try an easier one. What do you see here? This is not exactly Jurong Island. Not yet. Can anyone remember or make a guess as to when this picture was taken.
c. Third photograph. Does anyone know where this place is in Singapore? Paya Lebar Airport? No. Changi Airport? No.
d. Now this is an easy one. The fourth one. Anyone knows where this place is? Punggol. Because there is a bit of hint in the photo.
e. What about this one? Fifth photograph. Somewhere in Singapore as well. Woodlands? Kranji?
f. Second last photograph. Sentosa. Any idea which year this photograph was taken?
g. Last one. The seventh photograph. Where is this place?

3 Why do I show all of you these seven photographs and pictures? What does this have to do with why we are here tonight? Here are the answers.

4 The first picture is a painting by an assistant to Dr Winsemius, the Dutch economist that came to Singapore in the 1960s to give us advice on our industrial development. He painted this picture from the spot where Dr Winsemius stood. Looking out to the Jurong River, Dr Winsemius said: “Here, it is going to happen.” And with that, today we have Jurong Industrial Estate. And tomorrow, we will have the Jurong Innovation District.

5 This was Jurong Island. At that point in time, it was not yet called Jurong Island. In fact, it was seven separate islands. Some were bigger than the rest. This was the place where Philip Yeo went around the world and said: “Look at the sea, this is where we will have one of the world’s largest petrochemical complexes.” And today, this place produces one-third to half of the world’s specialty chemicals. In fact, today we are paying the ‘penalty’ for this due to the carbon constraints and our commitment under the Paris Agreement. 

6 This was Tengah in the 1960s. It was Tengah airbase. The airstrip that you see in this photograph is Tengah airstrip. This is the artist impression of the new Tengah town. And if you visit Bulim today, you will start seeing the shape of this new town coming online. 

7 This is, of course, Old Punggol Road in the 1980s. This is Punggol today. And this will be Punggol tomorrow – the Punggol Innovation District. This will be one of the three new canvasses which I spoke about yesterday.

8 This is Kranji and Sungei Kadut. This is what we plan to have there tomorrow – a future agri-tech hub. With agri-tech innovations and high-density farming, we can now aspire to feed larger populations using a smaller land area.

9 This was Sentosa in the 1960s. We did not call it Sentosa then. This is Sentosa today. And we are not done in Sentosa yet. We have a plan where Sentosa is the southern gateway to Singapore. It will stretch from Labrador Park in the west to the Marina Bay Cruise Centre in the east, forming a triangle with the Southern Islands in the south. We have a “ridge-to-reef” plan that is being developed now. And this will be a new Southern Waterfront, where you will see the port progressively move to Tuas and the whole area being re-developed. And not just here, but Mount Faber and all the way down to the Southern islands. You will have a mix of nature, a mix of family entertainment, and so forth. This will also be part of our plan for the next 100 years against global warming which we will provide more details about in time to come.

10 This was Orchard Road in the 1960s. This is Orchard Road today. But we are also not done rejuvenating Orchard Road. We will continue to build there, have new ideas and experiment with new concepts.

11 So ladies and gentlemen, what does this have to do with us tonight? Because you are a special breed of people. Tonight, you do not just inspire fellow entrepreneurs. Tonight, you are here because you inspire Singapore. Just like the rest of Singapore, just like Dr Winsemius. Entrepreneurs are people who see where others do not yet see. Entrepreneurs are people who dare to make a commitment when others shudder. Entrepreneurs, like yourselves, have the tenacity to get it done when others say that it cannot be done. 

12 It is the same story of how Singapore arrived to be where it is today. When we first started Jurong Industrial Estate, someone mocked Dr Goh Keng Swee and said that it was “Goh’s folly”. We did not give up, we pressed on, and Jurong today is not just about the Jurong Industrial Estate. The model of an industrial park, how we developed it and how we managed it, has become an exportable commodity of Singapore. 

13 When you look at the pictures of Tengah, Punggol, Orchard Road, and the Southern Waterfront, the same three characteristics define the Singapore Spirit, which you epitomise: To see where others have not seen yet, to commit when others dare not and to have the tenacity to execute even when all else seems so daunting.

14 So tonight, I want to thank all of you for epitomising the Singapore Spirit. I want to thank all of you for being an inspiration to Singaporeans for generations to come. And may your work continue to inspire Singapore onwards to greater height. May your work continue to keep us a shiny red dot. We are never finished with building Singapore and the goal of every generation is to leave behind an even better Singapore. One which no one could have imagined before.

15 Thank you very much and have a great evening ahead.

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