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S'pore won't 'burst at the seams' with 6.5m people: Minister Mah

By Hasnita A Majid, Channel NewsAsia
28 February 2007 2222 hrs

SINGAPORE : Singapore will not be "bursting at the seams" when it potentially becomes home to 6.5 million people in future.

This was the assurance given by National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan.

In an exclusive interview with Channel NewsAsia's INSIGHT Special, Mr Mah said that even as demand on space increases, the quality of life would not be compromised.

Singapore may be a top-class city now, but other cities are coming up fast and so Singapore cannot keep still.

The National Development Minister said that one way forward was through continual recharging and renewal.

Mr Mah said, "Our ambitions are very simple. We want to build a city, global city, which is so attractive that it will retain our own people, our own talent and our investments in Singapore. Not only that but also to attract talent and investments from all over the world.

"So a global city, a cosmopolitan one, a vibrant city, one which is a place where we and our children are able to live in and grow up in. Safe and secure, but also exciting and challenging, full of opportunities."

Mr Mah added that because Singapore is small, it is important to plan things very carefully.

Every piece of land, for example, has to be used optimally.

So in the pipeline are major investments in housing, transportation as well as investments to attract other investments here.

But developing Singapore's hardware, he said, would be complemented by building up the software.

Mr Mah said, "So even as we build up, we will continue to plan our city in such a way that there will be more greenery, there will be more parks, more areas for people to gather."

For example, areas such as Marina Bay will have not only high-rise developments, but also large parcels of land for green spaces.

Cheong Koon Hean, CEO, Urban Redevelopment Authority, said, "We are also looking not just to plan for economic growth, but also (to) take care of social memories. Things we can identify with. Which means that conserving many of these older buildings that mean a lot to us. And not just buildings but areas that we are familiar with, which we can identify with.. We will try to keep these.. Because these are social memories that will root all of us to Singapore."

It is all part of the government's effort to preserve, what it calls, "a sense of place for Singaporeans". - CNA/ms

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