IN THE face of emerging economies like China and Brazil becoming oil producers and oil hubs, Singapore can continue to stay relevant to the energy industry by keeping its economy growing and building up itself as a financial, logistics and trading hub, said Mr Lee Kuan Yew last night.
Speaking at the 120th anniversary celebration of Shell Singapore, the founding prime minister of Singapore also noted how Singapore provided stability and security to the oil companies, which gave them confidence to site their operations here.
Shell was the first to set up a crude oil refinery on Pulau Bukom in 1961, two years after Singapore attained self-government, Mr Lee noted. Over time, more followed in the footsteps of Shell and set up shop here.
Shell has been in Singapore since 1891, when it acquired 8ha on Pulau Bukom and set up an oil storage installation.
Mr Lee was guest of honour at the oil giant's charity gala dinner at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS).
Shell's global campaign manager for future energy, Mr Warren Fernandez, was the moderator of the 40-minute dialogue.
It was attended by more than 1,000 guests, comprising customers, suppliers, partners, government officials, regional company executives and local Shell staff.
One of the guests asked if the petrochemical hub in the Iskandar region in Johor would complement or pose a serious threat to Singapore.
Mr Lee said Singapore could not prevent Malaysia from building a petrochemical hub.
'They can see how useful our petrochemical hub has been. They have placed a hub next to us, so that ships will call by on them first, before calling by on us,' he said.
'The question is: Which is the more efficient hub, and where do the ships turn around faster?'
After a brief pause, Mr Lee shot back at the guest: 'Have you got my answer?'
The latter replied to laughter from the ballroom: 'Singapore's.'
The evening opened with welcome remarks by chairman of Shell companies in Singapore, Mr Lee Tzu Yang, and Mr Peter Voser, chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell.
Together with their industry partners, Shell raised $1.2 million from the charity drive. All proceeds will be donated to The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund, the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (Minds) and Fei Yue Community Services.
The amount raised is on top of other 120th anniversary charity initiatives during the year in aid of the Lions Befrienders.
A silent auction of books on Mr Lee, The Papers Of Lee Kuan Yew and Hard Truths To Keep Singapore Going, was also held at the gala dinner. This raised $160,816, which will go to the Education Fund administered by the Ministry of Education. Established in 1970, the Education Fund provides scholarships for outstanding students.
Former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew with (from left) Mr Lee Tzu Yang, chairman of Shell Companies in Singapore; Mr Patrick Daniel, Editor-in-Chief, English and Malay Newspapers Division of Singapore Press Holdings; Mr Leng Chin Fai, director of Fei Yue Community Services; Mr Keh Eng Song, chief executive of Minds; Mr Hwang Peng Yuan, vice-chairman of the Community Chest; and Mr Peter Voser, chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, who presented the amended cheque for $1.2 million to the beneficiaries. Another $160,816 was raised from a silent auction of books on Mr Lee last night. This sum will go to the Education Fund administered by the Ministry of Education. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN