Transforming a city is not a simple task as it requires long-term planning and careful execution as well as disciplined implementation and enforcement, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.
He cautioned that it is easy to sacrifice long-term environmental objectives for short-term advantage.
Policymakers might also find it difficult to rally political support for the right policies, enforce planning norms and act against polluters, for example, he added.
Mr Lee also highlighted that “pricing resources like water and electricity, which affects the lives of millions of people, is even harder”.
He was speaking at the joint opening ceremony of three global events - World Cities Summit, Singapore International Water Week, and CleanEnviro Summit Singapore - held at Marina Bay Sands yesterday.
The events, which started yesterday, will end on Thursday.
Despite the challenges of transforming a city, Singapore has managed to do it - with Marina Bay as a prime example, Mr Lee said.
The area used to be “at the mouth of a highly polluted Singapore river”, but has since been sewered up and cleaned up. In its place now is the Marina Barrage - which turns saltwater into freshwater for potable purposes - and the newly built Gardens by the Bay.
Referring to the Gardens, Mr Lee said he hopes that “with its own attraction and charm…(it) would be a place that all Singaporeans can be proud of…and think of when we talk about home”.
Beyond these iconic attractions, Mr Lee said that “we are determined to continue…making every corner of Singapore better” by building parks in every township and region.
These parks will be “a place where Singaporeans can get away from the pressures of city life (and) take in the natural surroundings”, he said.