Car-Free Sunday SG is back!

October 25, 2016

Eight months ago, we made an unprecedented decision to close a number of roads in the heart of CBD to vehicles on the last Sunday of each month and transform the precinct into a huge car-free activity space.

We ran this Car-Free Sunday SG pilot over six months, with tens of thousands of Singaporeans joining in the experience.

They enjoyed the car-free road space and participated in the wide range of activities organised in the adjacent public spaces.

Many also organised their own walks or cycling rides, bringing together individuals with like-minded interests.

We’ve received lots of positive feedback. Many asked us to continue the event, and to expand the car-free route.

So I am happy to announce that Car-Free Sunday SG will be back this Sunday, 30 October!

This new run of Car-Free Sunday SG will be even bigger and better!

The route will extend beyond the Civic District into the Telok Ayer conservation area, providing a longer stretch of full road closures.

Combined with longer road closure hours, from 8am to 11am, this means that there will be more options for people to jog, walk or cycle, and explore our city.

We have more community groups contributing their ideas and activities to make the event more fun-filled and meaningful.

More cycling groups are also organising guided cycling trips from the heartlands to the Civic District.

For example, a “bike train”, a special creation by a Bishan resident – Mr Lee Tang Teng, to ferry his friends around their neighbourhood, will be making its debut this weekend and will offer free rides around the Padang.

Car-Free Sunday SG is a step towards our broader vision of a car-lite and people-friendly society.

So do join us and experience the event with your family, friends and fellow Singaporeans – your Sunday mornings will never be the same again!

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Ensuring a Good and Safe HDB Living Environment

September 19, 2016

In July, I had explained in Parliament that MND will study the possibility of helping the Town Councils (TCs) to retrofit their existing lifts with key enhancements and new safety features.

Last Friday, BCA recommended that lift owners update their older lifts with several features that are found in newer lift models. Some of the enhancements include protective devices to prevent unintended movement or over-speeding of the lift cars, as well as lift door sensors to detect any movements before the lift door closes.

All lift owners – be it in private or public sector buildings – should study these recommended lift enhancements and work towards incorporating them in their own lift modernisation programmes.

In the case of HDB flats, TCs are the lift owners and are responsible for their upkeep and lift enhancements. However, the costs of these enhancements are significant and will pose a considerable financial challenge to the TCs. Hence, having studied the matter carefully, I’ve asked HDB to provide additional support to the TCs.

Specifically, HDB will implement a new Lift Enhancement Programme (LEP) which will co-fund around 90% of the TCs’ costs to install the enhancement features. This is a major programme, which will involve significant government expenditure, estimated at around $450 million. But given the importance of lifts in our daily lives and in our high-rise HDB living environment, the Government is prepared to commit to this additional spending and maintain high safety standards.

The LEP will apply to existing lifts that are not due for replacement anytime soon, and will be rolled out over a period of 10 years. So we are looking at lifts that are less than 18 years in operation. For the older lifts, it will make more sense for the TCs to replace them with new lifts which will come with these enhanced features.

The TCs bear responsibility for the eventual replacement of all the lifts under their charge. This requires significant long-term expenditures. TCs must plan ahead and build up their Sinking Funds regularly over time to pay for these major expenses.

Today, the total Sinking Fund balance across all TCs is about $1 billion. This may sound like a healthy amount, but it is still not sufficient to cover the cost of future lift replacements which is estimated at almost $3 billion from now to 2035 (for some 11,500 lifts across all HDB estates). Besides lifts, there will be other cyclical maintenance and replacement works such as façade repair of HDB blocks, cyclical repainting, and replacement of water pipes/tanks. These expenses will also go up as estate infrastructure ages.

This is why every quarter, TCs are required to set aside between 30-35% of their S&CC collections and government grants into their Sinking Funds. With higher expected long-term expenditures, TCs will likely need to contribute more to their Sinking Funds, and set aside more funds for future lift replacements through a new Lift Replacement Fund.

MND will be asking all TCs to prepare and submit their financial projections for their Sinking Funds over the next 10 to 30 years. These projections will enable us to assess the appropriate levels of contribution to the TC Sinking Funds and Lift Replacement Funds.

All TCs must take a long-term view and start planning now for asset and lift replacements in their estates. This is the basis of Singapore’s success. We do not leave things to chance. But we look over the horizon, plan, and prepare for the future. This is the way to ensure a good and safe HDB living environment for all Singaporeans.


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Making Public Spaces Fun

August 18, 2016

Making Public Spaces Fun

What do you usually do when waiting at the bus-stop?

Soon it could be a more enjoyable experience.

DP.pngA group of young architects from DP Architects approached URA with a novel idea to design a bus stop to “make waiting fun”.

They re-imagined the bus-stop as a social space where people not only transit, but also discover new experiences, interact with one another and have some fun along the way.

Working closely with various Government agencies, they have now implemented their ideas in a bus-stop along Jurong East Central behind JCube.

This experiential bus stop incorporates several features:

  • Vertical greenery and solar panels
  • Free wifi coverage (available from Sep) and mobile phone charging points
  • Interactive smart boards to access information like bus timings, weather and the street directory
  • Books to browse and read, as well as e-books to download
  • Art panels depicting the evolving landscape of Jurong
  • Bicycle parking

featuresWe plan to try this out for a year and gather feedback from the community.

Thereafter, we will review the public response to the features and services to see if they should continue to be operational.

I’m very encouraged to see these young architects come forward with their ideas to make our public spaces more vibrant.

We hope to have more Singaporeans play an active role in shaping the use of our public spaces.

This is why URA has an initiative called “Our Favourite Place” to provide funding support to individuals and groups with ideas to activate and enliven our public spaces.

Planning our future city is not just a job for our urban planners.

We all can play a role in shaping our streets and public spaces.

The more we do so, the more we strengthen our sense of ownership, identity and emotional connection to Singapore our home.

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Engineering Better Homes for All

July 31, 2016

Engineering is a critical part of HDB’s work.

Our colleagues at HDB engage in continuous research and development, and come up with innovative solutions to create a better living environment for residents.

In recognition of its work, HDB has been conferred several engineering awards. The Pinnacle @ Duxton, My Waterway@Punggol and the Lift Upgrading Programme were also voted among Singapore’s top 50 engineering feats.

However, the research and engineering at HDB are not all about hardware and buildings.

Through innovation, HDB also enhances the flora and fauna around our neighbourhoods and the overall quality of living in HDB estates.

Recently, HDB was conferred the IES Prestigious Engineering Achievement Award 2016 for their innovative engineering solutions that enhanced biodiversity at the Punggol Waterway, through the cultivation of freshwater-tolerant mangroves, and a one-of-a-kind floating wetlands system.

Along the banks of the Punggol waterway, HDB cultivated 35 freshwater-tolerant mangrove species. Besides creating a more scenic waterway, the mangrove roots help to bind soil effectively and stabilise the slopes at the riverbanks.

Some of the mangrove species were also deliberately chosen to improve and restore the coverage of endangered native mangroves in Singapore. One such endangered native species that you can see at the waterway is Lumnitzera littorea, also known as Teruntum Merah. It is easily identifiable by its dainty red flowers, when it blooms.

The floating wetlands system is another innovation that not only introduces more greenery to the water surface but can also be used as a floating platform.

Together, the mangroves and floating wetlands act as natural water cleansers. Using plants species which could effectively absorb excessive nutrients and pollutants from the water, HDB was able to improve water quality by up to 30%!

I’m also heartened to learn that a variety of wildlife have since made the mangroves and floating wetlands their home. Comprising 92 species of birds, 11 species of butterflies and 17 species of dragonflies, the thriving ecosystem along the waterway includes endangered bird species such as the Black-crowned Night-Heron and Oriental Magpie-Robin.

The mangroves and floating wetlands have made Punggol Waterway a green and peaceful oasis for residents.

We have learnt much from the engineering solutions deployed here, and will continue to do more.

HDB will extend its green innovations to other new estates as well, for example, in Bidadari and Tampines North.

HDB is also exploring further uses of its floating platform system, such as to support the deployment of solar panels in our housing estates.

These are just a few of the many exciting possibilities to explore.

Through engineering and innovation, we can build better homes for all Singaporeans!

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Finding the right balance

June 8, 2016

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) announced the Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme for the second half of 2016 earlier today.

In considering the land quantum for the 2H2016 GLS programme, we have taken into account several factors:

First, the decline in the number of remaining unsold private homes, as well as the corresponding pick-up in new private home sales at a monthly average rate of 600 units over the last 12 months.

Second, the actual supply of private homes committed to in the first half of the year. This worked out to 2,130 homes, higher than the 1,560 homes offered in the GLS programme over the same period, due to the successful sale of a Reserve List site in February 2016.

With these in mind, we have increased the supply of new private homes on the 2H2016 Confirmed List to match the actual committed supply in the first half of the year. So over the next six months, we will sell four sites on the Confirmed List, which are expected to yield around 2,170 private homes.

If we were to include the sites on the Reserve List, we will have a total potential supply in the second half of the year that is similar to what was provided previously in 1H2016.

All this will help to meet the current demand for new housing sites from developers, and add to private housing supply over the medium term.

Besides the overall quantum, we have also taken a closer look at the location of the sale sites.

In particular, we have continued to focus on sites in suburban areas, as these are the preferred locations for most first-timers and upgraders.

In line with this, two of the sites from the latest GLS programme are in areas outside the Central Region – at Fernvale Road in Sengkang and West Coast Vale in Clementi – which can provide approximately 1,150 new homes.

We are also offering a site at Upper Serangoon Road, close to the upcoming HDB estate at Bidadari, for a mixed-use development comprising residences and a commercial complex. This complex will house retail and food outlets, offering many conveniences to the future residents of Bidadari Estate.

The new private homes from these sites should be completed around 2020. They will provide more choices for families looking for suburban private homes.

Over the coming years, MND will continue to provide a steady supply of land for private housing.

We are mindful that excessive supply in a weak market can exacerbate a decline in prices. At the same time, insufficient supply can result in a future shortage and an unwarranted spike in housing prices when demand picks up.

So we will continue to monitor the market closely, and find the right balance to ensure sustainable housing prices and a stable property market.

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Service at Your Fingertips

June 2, 2016


We live in exciting times. Technology has opened up new and boundless opportunities in the way we live, learn, work and play.

The Government is also leveraging technology to improve our services and enhance our engagement with Singaporeans.

This is a key priority for us at MND.

For example, you may be familiar with the Municipal Services Office (MSO)’s OneService app, which allows the public to provide feedback on municipal issues while on the go.

The OneService Web Portal to be launched later this year will enable the public to access useful information on their neighbourhood, including HDB block-cleaning schedules, the location of dengue clusters and even traffic incidents.

HDB, too, has recently revamped its Mobile@HDB app. The improved app has new features which allow home-buyers to check resale flat prices (by scanning their surroundings with their mobile device’s camera) and to track sales and resale appointments with HDB.

URA is now joining this effort to put more information online in an easily searchable way. And it’s free-of-charge too.🙂

Every year, more than 33,000 people write in to URA to ask for information on land matters.

In the past, URA would have to spend a few days to search its records. Due to the time and effort involved, it would charge a fee for the information.

Now URA will place some of the planning information online in an easily searchable way, and in a new online portal called URA SPACE (Service Portal and Community e-Services). Check it out at:

URA SPACE will consolidate detailed information such as land use plans, urban design guidelines, property use and approval, car park locations and availability, private residential property transactions, and conservation areas and buildings.

The data is presented on a map in GIS (Geographical Information System) format, with a 3D map feature, so that the search for information becomes more intuitive and convenient.

I understand that the majority of the queries received by URA pertain to allowable uses for a shophouse – for instance, whether a shophouse can be used to operate a restaurant, a spa, a pub, an office; or whether it can be leased or owned for other uses. The uses of shophouses are regulated to safeguard the character and amenities in different localities.

angsiangURA SPACE now allows businessmen, investors and shophouse owners to access this information at the click of a mouse, without having to pay, or wait a week for the information. We may well be one of the few cities in the world to offer such a service.

This new service will be piloted for six months to find out whether there is a need to further improve it. The experience gained will allow URA to work on further enhancements of URA SPACE to better serve the public.

There is still much more we can do in the MND family to tap on the power of digital technology. For example, the use of big data and data analytics can be a game-changer in the way we design, plan and develop our future urban landscape and HDB housing estates.

We will continue to innovate and strive to make information more accessible and user-friendly, and bring better service to your fingertips!

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Home for Every Budget and Need

May 24, 2016

The May 2016 Build-To-Order (BTO) exercise was launched earlier today.

A total of 3,770 BTO flats are available for application, alongside another 5,170 flats in the concurrent Sales of Balance Flat (SBF) exercise.

I know many buyers have been looking forward to this launch, as it has been more than three years since HDB last offered BTO flats in Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, and Bukit Panjang.

I’m sure those with families living nearby would be especially excited, more so when HDB is also offering 114 3Gen flats in Ang Mo Kio and Bukit Panjang, for the first time, to help multi-generation families live under one roof.  Those applying for other flat types to live near or with their parents will also continue to enjoy higher priority through the Multi-Generation Priority Scheme and the Married Child Priority Scheme.  This is how we support the building of stronger families.

The last two BTO launches were well-subscribed, with flats in mature estates like Bidadari attracting much interest.  Building on this, HDB is offering more options of BTO flats in mature estates such as Ang Mo Kio and Bedok.  These flats, together with the SBF flats located in another 12 mature estates, will offer many choices to young couples looking for HDB flats in convenient locations or nearer to their parents.  But given their popularity, application rates for these mature estate flats are expected to be high, which means a lower chance of success.  So applicants have to be prepared for this.

In fact, I would encourage young couples to apply for BTO flats in non-mature estates.  There are some 2,800 such flats in this launch.  They are generally more affordable and come with more grants.  For example, a 3-room flat starts from $147,000 before grants, or $77,000 after grants.  By opting for a 3-room flat in Sembawang instead of one in a mature estate like Bedok, you get to save more than $100,000 instantly, which you could set aside for renovation and more.  You will also enjoy a much higher chance of success in your application.

There’s a perception that flats in non-mature estates are located far from work, and are not as well served by transport connections, or other amenities and facilities.  But there are significant development plans in many of these areas, which potential home buyers should take into consideration.  Also, our efforts to decentralise our urban development and build commercial centres outside the city will create more investments and jobs closer to homes in these areas.

I remember when my parents bought their HDB flat in Marine Parade back in the 70s.  At that time, it was a completely new town with few amenities.  There were also concerns about it being built on reclaimed land.  But look at how the whole area has developed over time.  So a ‘non-mature’ estate today can become a ‘mature’ estate tomorrow.

For this launch, there are also more choices for those in need of a flat earlier.  The concurrent SBF exercise offers 5,000 balance flats across 25 towns and estates.  These are flats which are already under construction or completed, so the time to key collection will be faster than BTO flats.  This will help families with a more urgent need for housing or who are looking for flats in certain specific locations.

Whether it’s price, location, or waiting time, the close to 9,000 flats to choose from in this sales exercise will ensure that you can find a home that meets your budget and needs.  So do consider the various options carefully, and good luck in finding your home sweet home!

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