Photo of Lawrence Wong from Ngau Kai Yan CNA

Minister of National Development Lawrence Wong told state media Straits Times in an interview that the government need more tax money to “build boldly”. The PAP Minister revealed that more taxes are need to pay for mega-billion-dollar projects like Terminal 5:

“Singapore needs to make bold and decisive moves in infrastructure if it wants to stay ahead of the global competition – instead of just being content with incremental changes.  Expensive mega projects that are likely to mean increased infrastructure spending over the next few decades. These include: the High-Speed Rail between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, the Tuas megaport, and Changi Airport Terminal 5. They are important because they will ensure Singapore remains a competitive, attractive regional centre, giving Singapore the best chance of success in an uncertain world.”

Minister Lawrence Wong also revealed that mega projects costing more than S$500 million needs to be checked by two ministries – one overseeing the project and the other being the Ministry of Finance. However, the minister deliberately omitted the fact that both ministries are controlled by the ruling PAP party:

“As infrastructure spending goes up, one area of concern is whether there are sufficient checks, so that money is spent prudently. All projects have to undergo at least two sets of checks: one at the ministry overseeing the project – to see if the benefits justify the costs, and another at the Finance Ministry, which scrutinises the project again and works out financing. Big projects worth more than $500 million go through a more stringent process, with expert panels that review different aspects of the project: design, scope of works and cost effectiveness, among others. Those are processes we have put in place to make sure that every project is done in a way that achieves value for money.”

When questioned about Singapore’s using illegally-sourced sand from Cambodia, Minister Lawrence Wong denied the Singapore committed any wrongdoing:

“The key thing is that all procurement agencies that procure sand from commercial providers will require requisite permits from the source countries – that is the ultimate check. We will not allow for any commercial provider of sand to come in without a valid export permit.”

According to the Cambodia government, the Cambodia’s Ministry of Mines and Energy found that Singapore has been, for years, importing massive amounts of illegally sourced sand and falsely reporting them as having come from Cambodia.

The PAP Minister however did not explain why Singapore did not challenge the accusations in an international court, and instead kept quiet.