Follow where your passion leads

SJ GCEO Wong Heang Fine at James Cook graduation ceremony 2018 speech
Surbana Jurong’s Group CEO Wong Heang Fine delivered the Occasional Address at the James Cook University graduation ceremony in Singapore.

Occasional Address by Mr Wong Heang Fine, Group CEO of Surbana Jurong, at James Cook University’s Graduation Ceremony in Singapore

“Chancellor, Vice Chancellor & President, Distinguished Guests, Members of staff of James Cook University, Graduates, Parents and families, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Let me first congratulate all the graduates on this significant day in your lives. I am sure your families and your professors are very proud of your achievements to date.

I am honoured to be here today to present the Occasional Address.

In preparation for this morning’s speech, I asked what would be of interest to you, what you would like to hear from me, and I was told to leave with you some formulas behind my own success.

I gave it some thought, and came up with three key tips that I feel are most relevant to you at this point in your life.

The first tip is to “follow your passion, don’t follow the money”.

These are not my words. They came from Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, when he was addressing undergraduates at a recent event.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew gave similar advice in a speech back in 1996, when he urged young people to “follow that rainbow”. He himself did that throughout his life, pursuing his goals and pushing boundaries with passion and drive, to build Singapore and make it the success it is today.

So if you’re wondering if you should accept the first job that comes along, or pick the job that offers a higher pay, I would advise against it.

As long as you do something that you want to do, that you are passionate about, you will do well at it, and be able to overcome the challenges that may come your way. You will be able to come up with clever ideas and champion innovative solutions that many others would fail to think of. And you will be rewarded for it.

Surbana Jurong’s Group CEO Wong Heang Fine (second from right) at the James Cook University graduation ceremony in Singapore

I am speaking from experience. When Temasek Holdings approached me to lead the merger of Surbana and Jurong International, and to grow the merged company, little did I expect that after just three and a half years, Surbana Jurong would become Asia’s largest urban and infrastructure consultancy house today, with 15,000 talents globally and operations in over 40 countries.

At any one time, Surbana Jurong is undertaking over 7,000 projects globally.

It never crossed my mind in that whole time whether I was ready to take on the role as Surbana Jurong’s Group CEO. As far as I am concerned, your mindset, your drive, and your analytical and problem-solving abilities, are more powerful than the skills or discipline you were trained in.

The second tip I’d like to share can be found in my CV.

If you look at my career path, you will notice that it traverses highly diverse industries and roles.

I graduated as a mechanical engineer, but along the way, I was involved in rebuilding Cathay, which was the oldest movie-making company in this region.

I opened up Indonesia’s Bintan Island to resort and industrial development. And I launched the public listing of the construction arm of Metro Holdings in Australia.

What do these roles have in common? Nothing, except that they were performed by the same person! And how was I able to handle such a variety of responsibilities, which required specialised knowledge in different industries?

The simple answer is that my mind is constantly inquisitive. I don’t hold myself back from taking on something new. Until today, I ensure that I retain the same strong desire to learn about the uniqueness of each industry that I’m in, and to understand deeply what makes it tick. So I urge you to do the same.

Lastly, it is extremely important to persevere and stay the course even if you face detractors along the way.

People call you the strawberry generation, and indeed, I have come across many young entrants to the working world who easily give up as soon as they encounter difficulties in their path.

A rolling stone gathers no moss – it’s an old saying but it still holds true. If you keep uprooting yourself, you will not learn or achieve enough to build a good career on.

I’m not saying you should stay 10, 20 years at a job with no growth. You should be constantly challenged, constantly learning. But don’t bail out at the first sign of struggle.

And don’t be afraid to seek advice from your parents, your professors, and people who have walked the path before you. They have much to share with you, wisdom and experiences which they have accumulated over a lifetime.

And if you’re worried for the future because you fear that robots will take over your jobs one day?

My company is in the business of building smart cities and deploying intelligent technologies, and I can assure you that no amount of innovation or artificial intelligence will be able to replace the empathy, compassion and human nature that you will bring to your work.

As you embark on the bright future ahead of you, I encourage you to jump in with a passion, to stay curious and hungry for knowledge and adventure, and when the going gets tough, don’t give up.

As the Prime Minister has said, Be rainmakers. Create new and exciting possibilities for yourselves, for your children and also for your country.

Thank you very much.”

Speech by SJ & CAG’s Chairman, Mr Liew Mun Leong at Professional Engineers Board Day of Dedication

professional engineers engineering
Mr Liew receiving the Distinguished Professional Engineer Award from Mr Desmond Lee, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development

Mr Desmond Lee

Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development

Er Ho Siong Hin

President Professional Engineers Board

Fellow Engineers

Ladies & Gentlemen,

Good morning,

Let me first thank the Professional Engineers Board for bestowing on me the Distinguished Professional Engineer Award. It is a great honour for me to accept this award.

This morning I would like to speak on three topics, namely, why I wanted to become an engineer, a snapshot of my engineering career, and finally, share some ideas of how we could possibly improve and uplift the engineering profession.

I wanted earnestly to be an engineer when young, inspired indirectly by my late father. He was a humble lathe turner in a shipyard who held his British engineer boss in awe and admiration, and with the highest esteem. He was “God” to him. To make him proud, I decided to study hard to be an engineer. That was the best inspiration my father gave me. And indeed, that was the best thing I have committed to, and done for myself.

In the first part of my career, I was practicing as a government professional engineer for 22 years. As a government engineer, I have had the great fortune to be involved in many pioneer national development projects. Recruited as the first civil engineer in MINDEF, I built camps and other military facilities in SAF camps during the early days of building up of our national defence.

I was also very fortunate to be one of the pioneer engineers in the team to develop Changi Airport. I built the first runway from day one in 1975 and was involved in the construction of the first terminal building. Subsequently, I was responsible for the construction of the second terminal in Changi Airport. I then went on to lead a statutory board called the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research (SISIR) to help upgrade the technical competencies of our manufacturing companies in the early days of Singapore’s drive for industrialisation.

After 22 years in the public service, I left and then spent the next 24 years in the private sector in businesses which capitalised on my engineering background and experience. I first started off my commercial stint managing a specialist engineering company for a few years and then progressed to found and lead CapitaLand, where my engineering training greatly helped me to value add, drive and lead a large real estate group. At the very least, I think no consultant engineers or contractors were able to “pull wool over my eyes”.

In my current role as Chairman of Changi Airport, we are building the largest development project in Singapore. Surbana Jurong, which I also chair, is one of the largest Urbanisation and Infrastructure development consulting firms in Asia with 13,000 engineers, project managers and other development professionals. We have engineering, urbanisation and infrastructure projects in 40 countries, 113 cities. In both companies, my engineering experience was again put into best use and put me in good stead. I have gone one big career circle and reverted back to engineering again.

Engineering has been a very consummate and rewarding profession for me. Engineering has taught me to be numeric, logical and systematic in thinking about solutions to problems. It taught me to be a very pragmatic person and at the same time, never forgetting to be cautious and build in margins of safety in any plan. It has brought me career satisfaction and, modestly I would say, some personal success, which has gone beyond my own expectations. It made me what I am today. Engineering training has served me well in my past 46 years’ career. I am truly grateful that I studied to become an engineer.

Enough of myself but what about the engineering profession in general? Frankly, as most of the professional engineers here will acknowledge, it is not a rosy picture. Twenty years ago, our top students were selected and awarded with government engineering scholarships above other study subjects. Many later became permanent secretaries, some even cabinet ministers. Minister Desmond Lee’s father, Mr Lee Yock Suan, who topped the 1963-year cohort, was my Queenstown Secondary School classmate. He graduated as a chemical engineer, served in EDB and eventually became a cabinet minister. Some, like Er Tan Ee Ping started his own engineering consultancy firm, and others went off to excel in other vocations or businesses.

Now sadly, engineering seems to be a last resort for the relatively weaker students to secure an opportunity for university education. And unfortunately, when they graduate, they are not as comparatively well paid, some earning as much as 50% lower than lawyers, bankers and doctors. Somehow, they carry less status than these other professions and many switched careers to join them without trying even one single day in the engineering profession they laboriously studied for. They don’t want to be underpaid and be an unsung hero in society.

This is happening all over the world, and in America too. Recently President Obama wrote in the Economist that “Too many potential physicists and engineers spend their careers shifting money around in the financial sectors, instead of applying their talents to innovating in the real economy”.

I think the government is aware of this decline and deterioration in the engineering profession. They are concerned with the dearth of talent entering the engineering profession. The salary of government engineers has recently been upgraded. We have also adjusted our engineers’ remuneration at Changi Airport and Surbana Jurong. But more has to be done. How serious is the problem, and how does that impact us as a society?

I did a cursory study of how engineering can affect our economy. I found that currently some 42% of various sectors of our economy would require engineers in their respective industries. Guess what would happen to 42% of our GDP if these sectors do not have enough qualified engineers, or if they are second graders or are incompetent? Can we compete with others globally then? What has gone wrong with the profession within a short period of 20 or 30 years? What can the profession, the related institutions and the Professional Engineers Board do to help reverse such a damaging down trend and deterioration?

In the mid-80s, I was an engineer in the then Public Works Department and I double-hatted as the Registrar of the PE Board. I think I have some insights of the profession and working of the Board. Let me give you my take on this.

The first principal role of the PE Board is to register Professional Engineers who have the accredited qualifications, and have acquired adequate practical experience to practise in Singapore. The second role is to regulate their professional practices to perform and conduct themselves in full compliance with the Professional Engineers Act. We were very stringent with registration and as the registrar then, my favourite statement against lowering of standards was that if the board was relaxed and negligent, we may have inadvertently given a PE the “licence to kill”. And we were equally serious in enforcing the PE Act to ensure their strict compliance. Our then-legal counsel Goh Joon Seng, who later was made a High Court Judge, and I, took tough stance on errant PEs. We diligently took several PEs to task.

I then realised that many PEs lacked a basic understanding of legal and other commercial aspects in the management of their practice. They were also not familiar with relatively simple financial matters, and these deficits may inadvertently trip them into contravening the PE Act. It is useful for their business practice if they receive some basic education in legal and financial matters. I therefore started to organise both legal and financial training courses so that they did not fall foul in their corporate practices.

I would like to congratulate the PE Board for eminently discharging its role in the registration of engineers and enforcement of the PE Act. But I would encourage the Board to do more to promote and develop the engineering profession to prevent further decline as engineering competencies are so vital to our economy.

This morning, I am happy to hear that the Board has embraced the registration of other engineering disciplines beyond the three main traditional branches of Civil, Mechanical and Electrical engineering. Recently, I read the PE Act again and the Board indeed may prescribe “other branches of engineering” for registration. If the engineering profession crucially affects more than 42% of our GDP, I would strongly encourage the Board to put other non-traditional engineering disciplines (e.g. those involving say robotics, system engineering, biotechnology etc.) affecting our economy under its purview. In addition to national development, engineers are important players in economic development, and hence the wider profession has to be developed and promoted to attract talents to them.

How could the Board assist in the promotion and development of professional engineers in Singapore? Yes, they are the regulator but it will be very helpful if the Board also considers expanding its mission to help promote and develop the profession in a more holistic way. For example, it could organise formal development courses like finance, accounting, legal, project management and other management courses to upgrade the overall managerial and leadership quality of the PEs. It could possibly be done in collaboration with the Institution of Engineers Singapore but I think it would be more assertive and effective if the Board takes the lead in this initiative. The Singapore Medical Council and Law Society are apparently more successful in helping and championing their respective professions in such ways.

If the Board is to expand its role to cover other multi-disciplinary engineering fields and to also help promote and develop the professional in a more comprehensive way, then more resources would have to be invested in. For example, the Registrar could be a full time job like the full-fledged CEO of a statutory board with appropriate support administrative staff. I did this Registrar’s job on a part-time basis 30 years ago, and I know it is not proficient and tough having to report to two bosses.

Singapore’s main strength is our human resource and converting our talents into more productive human capital like professional engineers will make Singapore a more technologically competitive economy. This could be a strategic goal for the PE Board and perhaps IES to play its part here. I imagine many PEs will welcome such an expanded mission to not only regulate them, but also to help promote and develop the profession with more meaningful roles. If not, who else can they turn to? The above is my personal view, and as a PE for more than 40 years I would welcome these changes and I hope that the PE Board can play a strategic role in championing the engineering profession.

Once again, thank you for this great honour. I will continue to be active and contribute to nurture the profession in my own ways. For example, I have been doing forums and lectures to engineering students as a pro-bono Provost’s Chair Professor (Practice) in the Engineering Faculty of NUS. With this award, I sincerely hope that I can inspire our young talents to take up engineering training and to build a fulfilling and rewarding engineering career. That was what I did when I was young. Indeed, the best thing I have done for myself is to study to become an engineer.

Thank you.

Liew Mun Leong,


Changi Airport Group,

Surbana Jurong Group

About Surbana Jurong

Surbana Jurong (SJ) has a rich 50-year heritage in the development of Singapore’s urban, industrial and infrastructure landscape. SJ traces its roots to the Housing Development Board (HDB) and the Jurong Town Corporation (JTC), agencies synonymous with Singapore’s early township and industrialisation efforts.

Headquartered in Singapore, Surbana Jurong Private Limited (SJ) was formed in June 2015 through the merger of renowned urban planning & affordable housing design expert Surbana International Consultants, and Jurong International, Singapore’s premiere industrial and infrastructure engineering design stalwart.

In August 2016, SJ acquired world-renowned infrastructure engineering designer SMEC Holdings. It also announced on 13 October 2016 that it has acquired 100% shareholdings in AETOS Holdings Pte Ltd (AETOS) from Temasek (an investment company based in Singapore), which will expand Surbana Jurong’s overall service offerings to include safety and security capabilities.

With these latest acquisitions, the Surbana Jurong Group will now have a global workforce of almost 13,000 employees in over 95 offices across 40 countries in Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas, with an annual turnover of around S$1.3 billion.

SJ is also presently the largest Asia-based urban, industrial and infrastructure consulting firm. SJ today provides one-stop consultancy solutions across the entire value chain of urbanisation, industrialisation and infrastructure domains.

SJ’s motto ‘Building Cities, Shaping Lives’ reflects its belief that development is more than just steel and concrete. SJ creates spaces and infrastructure services where people live, work and play, shaping cities into homes with sustainable jobs where communities and businesses can flourish.

Speech by Surbana Jurong & Changi Airport Group’s Chairman, Mr Liew Mun Leong at ICBC Seminar

urban industrial and infrastructure china
Mr Liew addressing a forum hosted by Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Surbana Jurong. He said OBOR can help power growth among the world’s economies by opening up trade between China and 64 participating countries.

Mr Yi Huiman, Chairman ICBC,

Mr Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Trade and Industry,


Dear Friends,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning,

It is my pleasure this morning to address you at ICBC’s forum on “Infrastructure Partnership and Financing in One Belt, One Road Challenges and Opportunities.”

We are all acutely aware that the global economy is again slowing down after the relatively few good years of recovery from the Global Financial Crisis in 2009. The IMF has in July downgraded world economic outlook for 2016 from 3.2% to 3.1%, the 5th time this year. The two charts you see on the screen does not foretell a pretty picture for both developed and emerging countries, except for slight improvements in China and Europe. These however, may not have fully factored in the negative impact of Brexit. Globally, investment is weak, with world trade slackening behind global income. Uncertainty abounds in the sudden awakening that Britain will leave Europe. We now live in a world of heightened fears of global terrorism and increased security problems. As many developed countries are experiencing income stagnation, inequality of incomes have created backlashes to capitalism in general and globalisation in specific. Human migration is now facing a pushback as countries start to review their immigration policies. Political malaise in the Middle East and the US election are certainly not helping to shore up confidence in the global economy.

Amidst all these doom and gloom, do we have some possible silver linings? In my view, there are two major possible stimuli or drivers that may have a chance to re-ignite global growth, namely the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the One Belt One Road (OBOR) programme. The TPP programme is currently awaiting official ratification by the U.S. Government and much has been said on this already. Let us dwell today on the potential of the One Belt, One Road initiative instead.

Proposed in late 2013 and officially unveiled only in March 2015, One Belt One Road is an economic and diplomatic programme to transform world trade and to create regional collaboration. It is arguably the most ambitious economic project of the 21st century in terms of its size, scale and geographic spread. It is planned to connect 65 countries, embracing 65% of the world’s population, one third of the world’s GDP, 40% of the world’s trade and one quarter of all goods and services the world moves. It maps out an economic land belt on the original Silk Road connecting China to Central Asia, Middle East and Europe. There is also the Maritime Silk Road of shipping lanes linking China’s Ports to South East Asia, then to the African coast through the Suez canal to the Mediterranean, and finally ending up in Europe. It is difficult and too early to size up the cost of this mammoth infrastructure programme but McKinsey estimates that it could be as much as between $2 trillion to $3 trillion a year. It could power the world’s economy to grow extensively and exponentially, but is it feasible and if so what are the challenges and opportunities for China, as the sponsor, and for the rest of the 65 host countries?

Last Saturday, I sat on the panel of a plenary session at The Singapore Summit, together with Bill Winters, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank, Mark Tucker, CEO of AIA and Wang Yanzhi, President of the Silk Road Fund, to discuss the growth route of One Belt One Road programme. Haslinda Amin from Bloomberg moderated the discussion.

Let me share with you some of the questions and answers posed at the discussion as well as other commonly asked questions on OBOR that were posed to me and my answers to them as these issues are pertinent to our forum.

The first question often posed is: Why is China, who is now facing an economic slowdown at home, promoting such a huge overseas investment programme? My response is simply that the economic slowdown is precisely the reason why China is promoting this trade expansion programme. It is indeed China’s strategic trade expansion solution to her domestic economic slowdown problem.

Another question: Is this a feasible project for China, given its scale and size? Can China deliver these infrastructure programmes successfully?

I have been visiting and doing real estate and infrastructure business in China for the last 30 years, since the early 80s. Initially, I was always very sceptical about their very ambitious aspirations. But China has proven my scepticism wrong over and over again. For example, against all odds, they transformed Shanghai’s Pudong District, which in the 80’s and 90’s were just watery paddy fields, into a vibrant financial and commercial district with more high-rise buildings than any other city in the world. They successfully completed the massive Three Gorges Dam project and the Suzhou Industrial Park. Many cities have been upgraded. They have urbanised the country to 56% urbanisation rate now from 19.6% in 1980 and in the process lifted more than 700 million people out of abject poverty. These miraculous transformations were rapidly accomplished when China was still relatively poor and had limited financial resources. So far, every big public infrastructure project that the Chinese government has dreamt of has come to fruition.

During the 2009 crisis, China also had some success in stimulating the world’s economy by injecting some 4 trillion RMB (about $800 billion) to fuel her domestic economy with increased infrastructure projects. This in turn shored up the global commodity trade with emerging countries, especially in basic construction materials, and hence averted a free fall in their economies.

The OBOR projects which will involve overseas efforts by the Chinese and the necessary G-to-G co-operation will undoubtedly incur new challenges and require extra effort. But I am confident that the programme, with substantial endowment in financial resources, strong leadership and political will, will have a higher possible level of success.

What about financing and fund raising? How is that holding up?

The good news is that within just two years from the official announcement, China has started three funding initiatives to help seed the OBOR projects. These are the Asian Infrastructure Bank (AIIB) with $100 Billion in capital, the $40 Billion Silk Road Infrastructure Fund and the New Development Bank for BRICS with $100 Billion capital. This strongly signals China’s financial commitment to the programme.

One problem which plagues international infrastructure projects is their bankability. This is because they are not often well conceived or thoroughly planned, either because they lack detailed feasibility studies or were commissioned without clear objectives. Other failure factors are the lack of transparency in procurement processes and the lack of professional project management. Wastage, cost and time over runs and corruption often destroy their intended economic value. Such high risks put their bankability in suspect. Therefore the first step to secure financing for any infrastructure project is to ensure that the project is thoroughly planned, well designed and professionally managed by competent and trusted agencies. It is also crucial that government at both central and municipal level must be pro-business to support the implementation of these projects. Then the commercial lenders will have higher confidence in them, especially in the nascent stage of financing. When construction of the project is completed, the multi-lateral banks and agencies who have more patient funds can take over during the ensuing operational phase.

It is highly commendable that China has started three separate financial institutions and put them together in consortium with commercial lenders and other institutions to spearhead OBOR. I advocate that other financial agencies and institutions will take more interest to examine, rationalise and fully understand the risks involved in infrastructures projects and to open their minds to support them. My view is that if an infrastructure project is correctly conceived, well planned and designed and properly project managed, and sufficiently financed, it can be expected to generate stronger returns than many traditional investment projects.

Is China trying to exert her influence with the host countries covered by OBOR projects?

When development assistance is being offered to any emerging country, the intention is often being questioned and the ulterior motive is often over politicised. China’s infrastructure development programme has contributed to its economic progress and well-being of its people. Many emerging countries are still grossly deficit in infrastructures, and this has hindered their economic progress. It is very significant and indeed benevolent if China can export its development success and the spill-over benefits to its neighbouring countries. Naturally, there will be political goodwill generated as a result but that should not overshadow the mutual benefits between the collaborating countries involved. Singapore started off 50 years ago inviting the economic powers of US, Europe and Japan to collaborate and invest in our industry. It created jobs and employment for us. Look at where we are today. We are today what some may call a MNC economy. It brought us economic successes but we remain a politically neutral nation.

Another commonly posed question: Is China trying to export its excess capacities and capital overseas?

The answer is yes, especially its surplus in steel, cement, aluminium and other construction materials etc. That is what trading and investment business is all about, when you sell your surplus to the parties who need them. It is simply part of the supply demand business equation.

Besides infrastructure business, what other opportunities are there under the OBOR programme?

An Infrastructure programme creates a wide vista of opportunities for the development industry, including technical services providers such as planners, architects, engineers, project managers, contractors, and the associated professional services like accountants, lawyers, bankers and lenders, insurers etc. When the recipient countries are successfully urbanised, the whole host of modern city economies and business opportunities will be open up eg trade, education, shopping, tourism, life-style products and services etc.

So what can the Singapore Model offer to the OBOR programme? Singapore has for the last 50 years invested heavily in urbanisation and infrastructure development. It has a solid track record of successful infrastructure development which we can attribute our economic success to. We have developed many world class projects like airport, seaport, roads, highways , public housings, power station, water, subway and digital infrastructures etc and can certainly share our technical expertise with other countries. We also have the critical mass of global financial institutions with infrastructure financing options, supported by a robust legal and regulatory framework for good governance.

In conclusion, OBOR is a very powerful strategy conceived to facilitate trade between China and potentially up to 65 other countries. Carried to its full potential, it will certainly increase and facilitate trade amongst the OBOR countries. In my view, it is certainly a pragmatic strategy to re-ignite the current slowdown in the global economy which will benefit not only China but also the 65 OBOR countries. This mammoth programme will encounter many challenges and scepticism, but at the same time it will present many opportunities. There are real projects in the pipeline and there are of course risks involved. Having business opportunities to address and manage, whatever the risk there may be, is better than having absolutely no business opportunity and with no risks. I often advocate that no global CEO should miss China in their business strategy. OBOR is yet another matter that they should constantly keep on their radar.

Thank you.

About Surbana Jurong

Surbana Jurong (SJ) has a rich 50-year heritage in the development of Singapore’s urban, industrial and infrastructure landscape. SJ traces its roots to the Housing Development Board (HDB) and the Jurong Town Corporation (JTC), agencies synonymous with Singapore’s early township and industrialisation efforts.

Headquartered in Singapore, Surbana Jurong Private Limited (SJ) was formed in June 2015 through the merger of renowned urban planning & affordable housing design expert Surbana International Consultants, and Jurong International, Singapore’s premiere industrial and infrastructure engineering design stalwart.

In August 2016, SJ acquired world-renowned infrastructure engineering designer SMEC Holdings. With this acquisition, SJ now boasts a combined global workforce of 10,000 employees in over 95 offices across 40 countries in Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas. SJ is also presently the largest Asia-based urban, industrial and infrastructure consulting firm. SJ today provides one-stop consultancy solutions across the entire value chain of urbanisation, industrialisation and infrastructure domains.

SJ’s motto ‘Building Cities, Shaping Lives’ reflects its belief that development is more than just steel and concrete. SJ creates spaces and infrastructure services where people live, work and play, shaping cities into homes with sustainable jobs where communities and businesses can flourish.

SJ Myanmar Brand Inauguration Speech by Mr Teo Eng Cheong

‘Ming gah-Lah Ba’

Your Excellency, U Kyaw Lwin, Union Minister of Construction

Your Excellency, Mr Robert Chua, Singapore Ambassador to Myanmar

Mr Liew Mun Leong, Chairman of Surbana Jurong Private Limited

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,


1.Good afternoon.

2.Thank you for joining us today to celebrate the inauguration of the new Surbana Jurong brand in Myanmar.

3.Our Group CEO Mr Wong Heang Fine would like to convey his apologies for not being here today as he has to attend to an urgent meeting.

Surbana Jurong’s Rapid Growth in Myanmar

4.Surbana Jurong began operating in Myanmar in early 2013 when we were appointed by Myanmar’s Ministry of Construction to provide masterplanning, architecture and engineering consultancy services for the Dagon Seikkan Township project.

5.In April 2014, we set up our office in Yangon, and in a short span of 2 years, we have grown our business significantly. From 2 projects in Yangon, we now have 40 projects spanning across various sectors – residential, commercial, recreational, industrial, infrastructure and aviation sectors. We also extended our geographical footprint with projects in Bago, Mandalay and Ayerwaddy regions, as well as the state of Rakhine. In terms of staff strength, we grew from 2 to 33 today comprising a mix of professional engineers, architects and project managers.

6.This rapid expansion was in response to the strong demand we experienced in Myanmar for our consultancy services. We have made headway in the market with both public and private sector companies coming to trust and recognise the work that we do.

Growing Our Business in Industrial and Infrastructure Sectors in Myanmar

7.A recent report by McKinsey estimates that a total infrastructure investment of USD$320 billion is needed by the year 2030 to support Myanmar’s growth potential. As Myanmar continues to open up her economy, infrastructure development will grow to keep pace with the country’s modernization. Surbana Jurong has managed to make new forays into these areas, and I am happy to report some of our successes today.

8.In 2014, Surbana Jurong partnered CITIC Group in the tender submission to provide masterplanning and port planning services for the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone. The consortium was selected as the preferred bidder from amongst 10 bids. Our partnership with CITIC comes on the back of a joint venture we forged with CITIC Construction and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, in November last year to undertake affordable housing projects in Africa. We are very glad that today we have with us Madam Hong Bo, Chairman of CITIC Construction.

9.In all, the 1900-hectare industrial park within the Kyaukphyu SEZ will house industrial clusters such as textile & garment, construction materials processing, food processing and marine supply. Given its strategic location in Western Rakhine, Kyaukphyu SEZ’s deep sea port will also facilitate Myanmar’s trade with India, Africa, the Middle East and China. Surbana Jurong is indeed very excited about the prospects for this project, and we look forward to make this project a reality together with CITIC.

10.Surbana Jurong has also made good progress on the i-Land Industrial Park in Bago. Having successfully attained approvals from the Myanmar Investment Commission in September 2015, i-Land Industrial Park will launch a formal groundbreaking ceremony tomorrow morning. We have entered into a further 3-year contract with i-Land’s master developer to continue overseeing the project. Located 65 kilometres from Yangon city and a 45 minute drive from the upcoming Hanthawaddy International Airport, the 160-hectare i-Land Industrial Park is slated to be a key strategic economic node in Bago.

11.Surbana Jurong is also the consultancy team behind the winning consortium for the Hanthawaddy International Airport, where we are providing design and engineering services for the airport and its supporting infrastructure facilities. Just last month, the framework agreement was inked between the winning consortium and Myanmar’s Department of Civil Aviation. The airport is expected to have an initial capacity of 12 million passengers per year, making it the largest in Myanmar when completed.

12.Just this week, Surbana Jurong was also appointed by Shwe Taung Development to provide Underground Engineering design services for Myanmar’s first underground pedestrian walkway. The underpass will connect the Practising High School, Yangon Institute of Education and Junction Square shopping centre, allowing pedestrians to bypass heavy traffic on Pyay Road, Yangon’s busiest thoroughfare. The underpass measures about 30 meters long and when completed will help improve traffic flow and pedestrian movement significantly. This project will be funded by Shwe Taung, and donated to the Yangon community.

Augmenting our Position with Mergers and Acquisitions

13.We made two acquisitions last year – KTP Consultants Pte Ltd in Singapore and Sino-Sun Architects & Engineers Co. Ltd in China. Their additions will allow us to further expand our service offerings and presence in Myanmar. KTP already has some notable projects including the Shangri-la Residences, Sedona Hotel Inya Wing Extension, Pyay Tower and Residences, Spring Line Residences and the ongoing expansion works for the Yangon International Airport in Mingaladon. Sino-Sun is a well-established local design institute in China with presence in 16 Chinese cities. We believe that both companies will add to the range of services that we will provide in Myanmar.

The new Surbana Jurong brand identity

14.At this stage, allow me to spend a few moments to talk about the new Surbana Jurong logo. It capitalises on the brand equity of Surbana and Jurong, both well recognised in Singapore and overseas. The little red dot in the logo reminds us of our home country, Singapore, where we have shaped the urban, industrial and infrastructure landscape over the last 50 years. As a Temasek-linked company, Surbana Jurong embodies our strong Singapore attributes to execute projects reliably, transparently and efficiently. We believe these attributes strengthen our value proposition as the consultant of choice in Myanmar.


15.Surbana Jurong Myanmar would not be where she is today without the faith and strong support of our valued clients and partners. I would like to put on special record our gratitude to the Myanmar Ministry of Construction. I thank His Excellency the Minister of Construction and would like to affirm Surbana Jurong’s ongoing commitment to build capabilities in Myanmar’s construction and building development sector.

16.I would also like to take this opportunity to announce that we have a new General Manager for Myanmar, Mr Lee Leong Seng. Leong Seng brings with him a wealth of experience having previously been with developers such as CapitaLand and United Overseas Land. Leong Seng will succeed Mr Gareth Wong, who served as General Manager since 2013. Gareth will be returning to our Singapore headquarters as Senior Vice President in our Chairman Mr Liew Mun Leong’s Office.

17.We are optimistic about the future and business outlook for Myanmar as her leaders continue to push for economic development and reform. Surbana Jurong is committed to growing our presence in the country, and we are already looking beyond Yangon to open our next Branch Office in Mandalay within a year or two. We are confident that we will achieve our vision to become Asia’s powerhouse in urbanization and infrastructure developments.

18.Thank you very much.

Speech by Mr Wong Heang Fine, GCEO at Brand Launch of Surbana Jurong

surbana jurong sustainable and green building acquisitions of ktp consultants sino-sun architects engineers

Speech by Mr Wong Heang Fine, Group CEO, Surbana Jurong, at the Brand Launch of Surbana Jurong Private Limited, 11 November 2015, 1030 am, Raffles City Convention Centre

Chairman Mr Liew Mun Leong

Members of the Board of Surbana Jurong

Your Excellencies, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen


  1. If you recall, it was only in June this year that we gathered in this same room to launch Surbana Jurong Private Limited, the merged entity of Surbana International and JURONG International, and at the same time made strategic acquisitions of KTP Consultants in Singapore and Sino-Sun Architects & Engineers in China.
  2. Barely five months on, we are gathered here today again. We have just unveiled our logo and we will soon be signing agreements to take equity stakes in two international companies.
  3. The launch of our Surbana Jurong logo and brand signals an important milestone for us as we are now recognised as an international firm headquartered in Singapore but with a growth story that is global in depth and dimension. The new logo capitalises on the brand equity of Surbana and Jurong, both well recognised in our local and overseas markets. The little red dot in the logo reminds us of our origin, Singapore, where we have shaped the urban, industrial and infrastructure landscape over the last 50 years and also signifies the strong Singapore attributes of how we can execute projects reliably, transparently and with efficiency.
  4. Our acquisitions of KTP Consultants and Sino-Sun Architects & Engineers have strengthened Surbana Jurong’s reach into the large Chinese market and deepened our infrastructure development capabilities. With 65% of our 4,000 staff strength of consisting of engineers, architects and other professional technical staff, Surbana Jurong is now the largest Asian-based consultancy powerhouse in this region.
  5. Today, we will be taking equity stakes in two firms to expand our business in Africa, and to increase technology inputs in our building design competencies. This is in line with our efforts to grow our business through mergers, acquisitions and partnerships.
  6. The first company, which we are taking a 20% equity stake in, is CITICC (Africa) Holding Limited – a US$300 million investment platform set up between IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and Chinese multinational construction and engineering company, CITIC Construction Co., Ltd. The aim is to develop affordable housing in Sub-Saharan Africa. With this platform, we will partner with local housing developers and provide long-term capital to potentially develop 30,000 affordable homes Africa in the next 5 years. This investment will help scale up our presence in Africa where we already have projects in 9 countries.
  7. There is significant demand for affordable housing in Africa. IFC, our partner in this investment, estimates that rapid urbanization is pushing up demand for housing in Sub-Saharan Africa.African cities are becoming home to over 40,000 people every day, many of whom find themselves without a roof over their heads. Kenya’s housing shortage is estimated at 2 million units, while Nigeria is in want of 17 million units. Our equity stake in CITICC (Africa) Holding Limited will significantly improve our market access and put us in a good position to be a significant player in the affordable housing market in Africa.
  8. We will also be taking a USD 9.25 million equity stake in FLUX Factory, Inc, a San Francisco based software company that is a spinout from Google X, a development lab by Google dedicated to making breakthrough technological advancements in areas including self-driving cars, Google Glass and drone deliveries.
  9. Founded by 3 Google engineers in June 2012, the company builds a collaborative cloud-based software tool used for building design, urban solutions and master planning to help the building industry design eco-friendly buildings, leveraging on FLUX’s big data analytics solution.
  10. FLUX is a strategic long term investment in technology that will strengthen our complete value chain service offering and grow our sustainable and building design capabilities. There is a growing demand for sustainable and green building designs which require sophisticated software like FLUX’s platform. We expect our investment in FLUX to put us in a good position to ride on this wave in the medium to long term and more importantly provide better and higher quality service to our clients.
  11. FLUX CEO and Founder Nicholas Chim, who is here with us today (and incidentally he just became a father last week to a baby girl) told me that they are delighted that Surbana Jurong has taken equity in FLUX. Surbana Jurong with its global footprint in some of the fastest developing countries in Asia, Africa and South America can help FLUX enhance their product offering by providing real time user input on the needs of the development industry in sustainable and green building design.
  12. We are on course to grow Surbana Jurong into Asia’s consultancy powerhouse for urbanisation and infrastructure developments in the next 3 to 5 years. Our plan is to increase our current staff strength to over 6,000 and achieve a sales turnover of S$1.5 billion within this timeframe. In the process, we intend to transform our business model through embracing new technologies like Building Information Modelling and Virtual Design and Construction. With today’s two strategic equity partnership, we are well on our way to achieving this target.
  13. Thank you for your support and for being with us today.