Speech by Minister Desmond Lee at Lendlease's 50th Anniversary Dinner

Nov 20, 2023

1. Good evening. Thank you for inviting me to celebrate your 50th anniversary in Singapore.  

2. 50 years ago in 1973, you were part of a joint venture that helped build 30 blocks of HDB flats in Ghim Moh. Very fittingly, that was the first time that an overseas builder was involved in building HDB flats, and it was also Lendlease’s first foray into Singapore.

3. Since then, you have played an important part in Singapore’s urban development, through the more than 400 projects that you have undertaken over the decades.  

a. At the same time, you have contributed to our national decentralisation strategy by developing commercial hubs in our heartlands, bringing job opportunities closer to people’s homes.

i. I am sure many people would be familiar with JEM and Paya Lebar Quarter. In fact, I visited Paya Lebar Quarter a few years ago when construction was ongoing, in order to feature some of the best practices when it came to the Building Industry Transformation Map, how a firm could bring along the entire value chain on the back of an important digital spine, to help bootstrap everybody along that value chain, big or small.

ii. These prominent mixed-use developments have been crucial in kick-starting the transformation of Jurong Lake District and Paya Lebar Central, respectively. Through your sensitive design of public spaces and creative place-making, you have helped bring communities to live, work and play together.

b. You have also played an important role in Singapore’s efforts to be a vibrant, dynamic hub with a range of industries and businesses. For example, you built Admiralty Industrial Park – one of the first planned industrial property developments in Singapore. You have also built more than 90 per cent of the biotechnology facilities in Tuas Biomedical Park, helping global life science clients deliver treatments that help people around the world.

A Leader in Sustainability and Urban Resilience  

3.          As we reflect on the last 50 years of urban development, what might the future hold, over the next 50 years?

a. My colleagues at URA recently concluded the Long-Term Plan Review, where we consulted more than 15,000 people to develop our land-use strategy for the next 50 years. 50 years is a very long horizon, and the cone of uncertainty is big. But you can distil certain key strategies looking at the trends around the world and start to plan around those broad strategies.

b. We have recently launched Draft Master Plan 2025 (DMP 2025) – it comes after the Long-Term Plan Review - where we will be translating the insights and ideas and strategies from the Long-Term Plan into detailed plans for the next 10 to 15 years.

4. Long term planning is a crucial part of the Singapore DNA. We invite local and overseas partners, including Lendlease, to join us on this journey – as we strengthen urban resilience to combat climate change, build more creatively to optimise our limited land and develop an endearing home and city. 

5. At Lendlease, you have set ambitious carbon reduction targets with the launch of your Asia Decarbonisation Roadmap. I am glad that Lendlease intends to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2025, and absolute zero carbon emissions by 2040. Your efforts lead the way forward on how companies can embrace innovation and sustainable solutions, as Singapore pushes to green 80% of our buildings as part of the Singapore Green Building Masterplan.

a. For example, at Paya Lebar Green, which was already awarded the BCA Green Mark Platinum Super Low Energy certification under Green Mark 2021, it became the first building to attain all five Green Mark sustainability badges last year. These sustainability badges recognise exemplary performance in areas such as reducing embodied carbon across the building’s lifecycle and creating a healthier environment for users of buildings.

6. You also co-sponsored two challenge statements on the optimisation of building energy consumption and pre-emptive monitoring of water tank systems under our Jurong Lake District Innovation Challenge.

a. To those who are not familiar with this challenge, it is an initiative organised by URA, SNDGO and IMDA this year to bring together industry players, academia, start-ups and students to help propose novel urban solutions that are aimed at reducing carbon emissions, energy usage, waste and resources as well as promoting a car-lite environment in the district.

b. Co-sponsors provided challenge statements based on real-world problems that they were facing in their operations, and more than a hundred teams submitted proposals to address these challenge statements.

c. Lendlease will be testing out some of these winning proposals at JEM next year, to see if they can be scaled up in other buildings. We appreciate Lendlease’s forthcoming contributions in paving the way for more sustainable solutioning in our Built Environment sector.

Leveraging Technology in our Built Environment

7. We are also pushing hard to better leverage on technology in our Built Environment sector. What we envision is a “digital spine” connecting relevant stakeholders across the entire project value chain, enabled by digital platforms built on common data standards.

8. I am glad to hear that you are developing Podium, a comprehensive digital platform that serves as a one-stop platform for building data and insights, and will allow project teams to reduce waste, increase productivity and deliver greater value. Podium has different modules which are specific to different phases of the property lifecycle.  

a. For example, the upcoming Podium for Development module incorporates design data provided by consultants and cost data provided by suppliers to estimate project costs and schedules. Project teams can work better together to optimise building designs and materials, and create time and cost savings. I understand that Podium for Development will be officially launched next month. Congratulations ahead of time, on this significant milestone!

9. As we introduce new digital technologies, we also create exciting career opportunities for Singaporeans. Roles such as digital engineering specialists and computational designers are expected to increase in demand. For example, your digitalisation efforts have created opportunities for your architects and engineers to venture into software product management and computational design. They now have new career progression pathways – and will be more willing to stay on and grow with the company. Digitalisation also enables the transformation and redesign of conventional roles into higher value-added jobs, further enhancing our workforce capabilities.

10. I encourage our Built Environment firms to join us in these efforts to accelerate digital transformation and bring the entire sector forward as a whole.


11. Thank you once again for your contribution to Singapore over the past 50 years, and for being an important part of our development story. We look forward to the next 50 years and beyond.

12. Have a wonderful evening ahead. Thank you.