SINGAPORE - The Singapore government unveiled a master plan on Sunday to double capacity at Southeast Asia's busiest airport, build a new waterfront city, move its massive port and relocate a military airbase to free up land for development.
The plan announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong follows mounting discontent in one of the world's wealthiest nations over an influx of foreign workers and expatriates blamed for a range of problems - from strained infrastructure to among the highest living costs in Asia.
In an annual National Day address, Lee sought to allay those fears, elaborating on a trove of long-term plans that appear intended to counter a growing voter backlash against the People's Action Party (PAP) that has ruled Singapore for more than half a century.
These include changes to Singapore's health-care and education systems, and the move of its port - the world's second-busiest hub for container shipping - to a new location in Tuas in western Singapore from 2027. That would free up land in Tanjong Pagar, next to the central business district, for a sprawling new waterfront city, Lee said.
He also unveiled plans for a fourth runway at Changi Airport, Southeast Asia's busiest. This will alllow the government to move a military airbase in central Singapore to Changi after 2030 and free up 800 hectares (1,980 acres) of land for homes, factories and businesses.
"This is how we can stay the hub in Southeast Asia and create many more opportunities for Singaporeans," he said, citing competition from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.
PACIFYING A NEW GENERATION
Lee's speech seemed intended to show voters that Singapore under the PAP will evolve well beyond the era of his father, the 89-year-old Lee Kuan Yew, the country's founder prime minister. The elder Lee's stern and technocratic policies are credited with turning Singapore from a colonial outpost in the 1960s into a flourishing financial centre with clean streets and the world's highest concentration of millionaires.
A new generation has begun to openly question the ruling party's wisdom, clamouring for more say in the country's direction.