Are Our Public Projects Going to Foreign Firms Because Local Firms Can’t Cut It?

It is unfortunate that our transport infrastructure development and upkeep keep getting hampered by companies involved in the works going bust.

The latest case in the news involves Austrian builder Alpine Bau, which was working on the King Albert Park, Sixth Avenue and Tan Kah Kee stations of Downtown Line 2 when it filed for insolvency in June 2013.

As a country, we learn from others’ best practices, especially in areas that we are weak in, and progressively build up our own capabilities.

Construction and transport are two sectors where Singapore started learning from best practices since our early years.

This makes one wonder: Why are our public tender projects going to foreign companies? Is it because Singapore companies don’t have the talent or capability to take on major projects such as the building of MRT stations?

Even if we don’t have local capability, couldn’t such large-scale projects be awarded to joint ventures involving Singapore companies?

This would allow us to learn from the best.

Such partnerships involving Singapore companies could also be a better way to avoid operating failures. And if failures do occur, it could be easier to take legal or remedial action.


This letter was written by Tan Kar Quan.
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