New book that traces Singapore's real estate success story launched

Senior minister of state for health Dr Amy Khor at the book launch. PHOTO: WONG SIEW YING
Senior minister of state for health Dr Amy Khor at the book launch. PHOTO: WONG SIEW YING

SINGAPORE - Government and private sector partnership has helped transform the country's real estate sector, as properties evolve from mere bricks and mortar entity into a financial asset, senior minister of state for health Dr Amy Khor has said.

The partnership has helped build a strong external wing by exporting its expertise in industrial parks and township developments, she said.

Dr Khor was speaking on Wednesday at the launch of a new book - Singapore's Real Estate -  50 years of Transformation - which details achievements in the real estate sector and contributions from private sector developers and service providers.

The book, by National University of Singapore's Institute of Real Estate (IRES) and the Department of Real Estate, was part of its efforts to celebrate Singapore's golden jubilee - dubbed SG50 - which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the country's independence last year.

"Given that real estate is a multi-faceted industry, I am pleased to note that the book has attempted to cover the SG50 story from many different perspectives," added Dr Khor, herself an NUS Real Estate alumna.

Among the topics covered in the book were land use planning guidelines and building approval processes, urban renewal policies, and the public housing programme, which has enabled a vast majority of the population to own homes. 

Speaking on the occasion, NUS IRES chairman Dr Seek Ngee Huat said that the book centred on two main themes in tracing the development of the real estate industry here, in the context of "mega changes in the global arena".

The first was the transformation from a simple industry focused on building properties mainly for owner occupation, to the development of an institutional investment market, and the integration with the capital markets with securitisation of real estate equity and debt.

"We are now a leading Reit (real estate investment trust) market in Asia, if not the world," Dr Seek noted.

Another theme was the transformation of an industry to become "truly globalised", with local companies and individuals investing in offshore real estate, as well as foreign investors moving capital into the property sector here.

Picking up on Dr Khor's point, Dr Seek noted that underlying the two themes was a "uniquely Singaporean phenomenon",  which was the strong synergy between the Government and the private sector.

"This public-private partnership, combining pragmatic Government policies with the entrepreneurship of the private sector, is a key success factor in transforming the real estate industry," Dr Seek said.

National Development minister Lawrence Wong also penned the foreword to the book.

The book, which cost S$32 for the paper back version, will be available at all major bookstores.

wongsy@sph.com.sg