Founding CEO of Gardens by the Bay to step down

Dr Kiat W. Tan will serve as corporate adviser to Gardens by the Bay after he retires on Feb 15.
Dr Kiat W. Tan will serve as corporate adviser to Gardens by the Bay after he retires on Feb 15.PHOTO: GARDENS BY THE BAY

Leader instrumental in conceptualisation of garden to retire next month at 74

Gardens by the Bay founding chief executive officer, Dr Kiat W. Tan, will be retiring next month after five years at the helm.

Current chief operating officer Felix Loh, 48, will take over the role when Dr Tan, 74, steps down on Feb 15, said Gardens by the Bay in a statement yesterday.

Dr Tan will continue to serve as corporate adviser to Gardens by the Bay. The attraction, built on reclaimed land in Marina Bay, opened its doors to the public in June 2012. It has since received more than 40 million visitors.

In the statement, Dr Tan was lauded as a passionate and visionary leader who was instrumental in the conceptualisation and development of the gardens.

Under his leadership, it became the first garden in the world to receive the Thea Award, widely regarded as the Oscars of the international attractions industry, the statement said.

Dr Tan strived to create a "garden of wonder" for Singaporeans, which included making 90 per cent of its grounds freely accessible.

In his career spanning over 30 years, he has held several appointments that allowed him to contribute to the conservation of Singapore's natural heritage.

CREATING SOMETHING SPECIAL

I am glad to have
worked alongside an
extremely capable
and passionate team
that rose to the
challenge of creating
one of the world's
great tropical
gardens.

DR KIAT W. TAN

From 1990 to 2006, he was founding chief executive officer of the National Parks Board (NParks), where he focused on creating green spaces in urbanised Singapore and strengthening biodiversity conservation efforts. He also laid out the master plan for the redevelopment of the Singapore Botanic Gardens and spearheaded its transformation to become a Unesco Heritage Site.

In 2006, he introduced the Singapore Garden Festival and in 2011, helped Singapore to clinch the chance to host the 20th World Orchid Conference.

Dr Tan, who used to be known as Tan Wee Kiat, will remain as an adviser to NParks. As corporate adviser to Gardens by the Bay, he will provide landscape and horticultural advice for the upcoming Founders' Memorial at Bay East Garden, the statement added.

Dr Tan described his time at the helm as "a fulfilling journey" and said: "I am glad to have worked alongside an extremely capable and passionate team that rose to the challenge of creating one of the world's great tropical gardens."

The statement added that Mr Loh, a horticulturalist by training, will bring with him more than 20 years of experience in park management, horticulture and landscape industry development, and policy development.

He joined the team about four years ago and previously served in various capacities at the Ministry of National Development. He was also a former NParks scholar.

Gardens by the Bay chairman Niam Chiang Meng, in the statement, thanked Dr Tan for his contributions. "We are confident that his new role as corporate adviser will continue to provide invaluable guidance even as the new management team seeks to further strengthen Gardens by the Bay as an international horticultural wonder."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2018, with the headline 'Founding CEO of Gardens by the Bay to step down'. Print Edition | Subscribe