POSTED: 19 Aug 2013 1:06 AM | CNA


Passing on a better Singapore to future generations than what has been inherited, said Prime Minister Lee Hsieng Loong — that is what the country will do as it continues to create more opportunities and build for the very long-term.

Among them are plans to further redevelop Changi Airport.

Changi Airport has been progressively upgraded since its humble beginnings in 1981.

Mr Lee said it has become part of the Singapore identity. It is also a symbol of renewal and change.

The airport came about after former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew had the vision in the 1970s for the old RAF Changi Air Base to become an international airport, replacing Paya Lebar.

Today, Changi Airport is approaching its limits — handling 51 million passengers in 2012. Capacity will be increased when Terminal 4 is ready by 2017.

Mr Lee said: “Kuala Lumpur International Airport — they are planning to service 100 million passengers per year. Bangkok Suvarnabhumi is also aiming for 100 million passengers a year.

“Both of them are geographically better placed than Singapore to be the hub in Southeast Asia because from Europe to Southeast Asia to the far east — whether its Hong Kong, Japan or China — Kuala Lumpur is nearer and Bangkok is nearer still. But we are the hub. Why? Because they are not Changi Airport… That makes a difference!”

More will be done to ensure Singapore remains an international hub, like redeveloping the carpark at Terminal 1 into a ‘Jewel’.

Mr Lee said: “‘Project Jewel’… will expand Terminal 1. Terminal 1 will be connected with it as to with the other (terminals), but it will have shops, restaurants and a beautiful indoor garden. We have Gardens by the Bay, this one is Gardens at the Airport. Not just for visitors, but for Singaporeans too — families on Sunday outings, students maybe studying for exams and newlyweds taking bridal photos.”

By the mid-2020s, Mr Lee said Changi’s current capacity will be doubled when Terminal 5 is ready.

Beyond that, there will be a new Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) air base and fourth runway at Changi East. Paya Lebar Airbase will move to Changi, freeing up 800 hectares of land.

The area which is bigger than the size of Bishan can be used to build new homes, offices and factories. Mr Lee said relocating the air base also removes height restrictions on a large area around Paya Lebar. This will allow for new, exciting plans for eastern Singapore.

Singapore also wants to maintain its position as a leading world port. For this, there will be a new port in Tuas.

The container ports at Tanjong Pagar, Keppel, Brani and Pasir Panjang will move to Tuas when their leases expire from 2027 onwards. This will free up prime land for the building of a new Southern Waterfront City.

Mr Lee said these are ambitious long-term plans which will create possibilities and opportunities for the future.

He said: “These are not plans, these are acts of faith in Singapore and in ourselves. Faith that a generation from now, Singapore will still be here and will still be worth investing in for the sake of our children and their grandchildren. Faith — that we can thrive in the world, whatever the challenges and hold our own against the competition — bigger, stronger, but we are there.”

That faith, Mr Lee said, was vividly expressed in the National Day Parade in the singing of the anthem, reciting the pledge, the radiant faces of participants, and the response of the crowds.

He said: “Watching them, feeling them, made me and my colleagues more determined to do the best for Singaporeans. They bolstered our conviction that it’s worth doing and we can do it.”

Mr Lee urged Singaporeans to work with the government to create a better future for all.

– CNA/ac