Speech by MOS Zaqy Mohamad at the URA-REDAS SPARK Challenge Award Ceremony 2019

Sep 16, 2019 15:59


Good afternoon. I am happy to be here today to recognise the participants and winners of the second edition of the URA-REDAS SPARK Challenge Award Ceremony 2019.

The Singapore that we see and live in today has transformed significantly from two hundred years ago, when Raffles established Singapore as a trading post of the British East India Company. This moment profoundly shaped our history. Through the years, we have experienced tremendous changes through thick and thin, and evolved to modern day Singapore.

When we became independent in 1965, we focused on nation building, and we did so by planning for infrastructure, jobs, and healthcare. This provided the basic needs of our people. 

Today, Singapore is on a different trajectory as society has matured, the nation is more developed and expectations have changed. The world we live in today has also changed. There are shifts in the balance of power and trade, and we live in a world that is transforming at a much rapid pace than before.

While some see these developments as challenges, our worldview has to be one that sees possibilities. We must continue to build our city, and make it a great place to live, work, and play.

One way to do this is to raise the quality of our urban environment, so that our city is not just liveable, but also loveable. This is why platforms like the URA-REDAS SPARK Challenge are important. They challenge our thinking, and seek creative and better ways of doing things – such as creating lively public spaces, planning ahead for the future, as well as for a better quality of life for Singaporeans.

As we continue to strive for excellence in our built environment, we cannot do it alone. The SPARK Challenge emphasises community involvement, and that is what makes it special.  We want many hands shaping our nation together, with the aspiration to make Singapore exceptional. As we continue to build Singapore, we will partner with you and the community, to shape a delightful and vibrant city. 

This year marks the second edition of the URA-REDAS SPARK Challenge. We intend to continue to collaborate with the public and private sectors to seek creative ideas to raise the quality of our built environment.

The theme for this year’s SPARK challenge is to encourage openness and connectivity, to think of ways for the public to interact, socialise and bond in the urban environment. What we are today is shaped by our people, and what makes our society special and vibrant are the ties that bind our community.

We have received many good submissions from participants this year, who drew inspiration from parts of Singapore that are near and dear to them. It is heartening to note that we have more participants than last year, with more shopping malls involved in exhibiting these entries. 

These shopping malls, volunteered by REDAS developers, were ‘living labs’ for the prototypes to be tested. Members of the public could try and vote for their favourite prototypes. These scores were taken into consideration by a panel of judges when determining the winning entry. 

Allow me to share some of the entries that I found innovative.

One of the prototypes requires the involvement of a group, where recycled bicycles are connected to music boxes, and as more people join in and cycle, more beats are produced. It is called ‘Music-C-Ycle’, because it makes music as you cycle. 

What I personally like about it, is in its underlying philosophy, that when we all come together, even as strangers, there is strength in unity. It ties in quite nicely with the bicentennial this year, as we commemorate Singapore’s history of many people from different lands, with diverse values, cultures, and identities, coming together to build a legacy in this small island.

If you take a walk in our HDB estates, you will find often neighbours bonding, playing over a game of chess or drinking ‘kopi’ together at our void decks. This submission, called ‘Flip’, is inspired by such activities involving HDB void-deck tables.

However, the team added a twist, where instead of chess, they included game-boards with country erasers. Some of us who are old enough may reminisce collecting and playing with these erasers back in primary school, where you win by flipping your eraser over your friend’s. I appreciate how, through these familiar forms and games, an atmosphere of warmth is created, as we bond over our common memories and experiences. 

I understand these prototypes were very popular, attracting large crowds when placed at shopping malls, including here in Millenia Walk. I am glad that they have been successful in their aim of enlivening public spaces for everyone to enjoy. 

It is inspiring that many participants have come forward to lend their ideas and visions to create a shared future where we will all journey towards, together. I would like to thank all our participants who have put in hard work and thought behind these creative ideas and designs, and for having the ingenuity to dream and change things, so that Singapore remains vibrant and a wonderful place to live.

I would also like to extend gratitude to REDAS and its members for continuing to work with us to create a vibrant built environment for Singaporeans. Together with URA, you have not only created a platform, you have created ideas, and in this ever changing environment, we will continually need to co-create bold, fresh, and innovative ideas, to help us mould Singapore into an extraordinary nation.

Thank you, and have a wonderful day ahead.