Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Always Room For More

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan had told parliament that finding the right name for the revamped downtown Marina Bay, which will include the much-debated resort casino, a new business district and swanky retail outlets, was “a process akin to parents deciding on a name for their child”. And that was the justification for paying global branding company Interbrand S$400,000 ($240,964) to initiate a massive branding exercise that involved market tests, focus group discussions and consultations with developers and the general public. After spending months deliberating over 400 potential names, the urban development authorities decided to stick to, well, Marina Bay.
Fresh from his coup, Mr Mah is laying the grandiose groundwork for a future population of 6.5 million. The previous target, or what experts call “a planning parameter”, was 5.5 million. The island has 4.5 million people today. Mr Mah said: “Our goal is not just to provide space, but also to enhance our living environment to the extent that it becomes our competitive advantage in the attraction of talent and investment.” The brand new Minister of State for National Development, Grace Fu, assured the nattering nabobs of negativism that overcrowding can be prevented with creative and innovative approaches to land use. Nevermind the authorities’ plan to grow the island’s 650 sq km by another 100 sq km in 2030 has recently been torpedoed by Indonesia’s ban on selling sand to Singapore. Even with 8,667 persons per sq km (compare Hongkong 6,407 per sq km), there’s still standing room to spare, although Mr Mah may have to give up his private swimming pool at his landed property residence to contribute to the nation’s effort.
Still, laggards who prefer to lie down instead of standing up for Singapore are praying that Mr Mah will repeat his Marina Bay Renaming Oscar deserving performance and, after spending billions of taxpayers’ money, end up with present population of 4.5 million.