SINGAPORE - The vision for the Jurong Lake District has not changed, regardless of how the high-speed rail (HSR) project between Singapore and Malaysia turns out, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on Monday (July 9).
The fate of the area - touted as Singapore's second central business district, with the HSR terminus as its centrepiece - has been in the spotlight after Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said in May that his country plans to scrap the multibillion-dollar rail project.
His pronouncement sparked concerns among Singaporeans that the development of the Jurong Lake District may be adversely affected.
But Mr Wong on Monday provided assurance that the overall impetus and vision of the district remain unchanged.
"Some details may need to be adjusted along the way, as circumstances change. But the bottom line is that we have an exciting transformation plan for the whole area, and we will proceed with the implementation of these plans when ready," he said in Parliament.
Asked if the district's development would be delayed if the HSR was cancelled, Mr Wong said that adjustments, which may include that of timing, would have to be made but added that it was "difficult to speculate now".
The development of the 360ha Jurong Lake District is part of Singapore's broader effort to develop urban centres outside the downtown area, so as to bring jobs, amenities and recreational options closer to homes, said Mr Wong.
This started with the building of the country's first regional centre in Tampines in 1992. Work to transform Jurong started in 2008, he noted.
"So the plans for Jurong Lake District were developed well before Malaysia proposed the HSR project," said Mr Wong. "It was only in 2015, after further study of the HSR proposal, that we decided to locate the Singapore terminus of the HSR in Jurong."
An agreement for the HSR was inked by the administration of former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak. The 350km line would slash travelling time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to 90 minutes when completed in 2026. Most of the line - 335km of it - will be in Malaysia, with the remaining 15km in Singapore, ending in Jurong East.
Plans for the Jurong Lake District include the development of a commercial precinct and up to 20,000 new homes, the upgrading of Jurong Lake Gardens and the development of a major transport hub connecting the existing North-South and East-West MRT lines, as well as the upcoming Jurong Region and Cross Island lines.
Mr Wong said: "These plans are still relevant today. The land parcels that the Government has acquired are needed to realise these plans."
He said the Jurong Country Club - which was acquired in 2015 - will provide for new mixed-use developments and community facilities, while the Raffles Country Club is needed for the Cross Island Line's western depot and other transport-related uses.
The Raffles Country Club will be taken over by the Government by the end of this month (July).