Dr Liu Thai Ker (Screenshot from CNA's interview footage)

Big population growth means more business for architect firms like Dr Liu Thai Ker’s

by Vincent Low

In a Channel News Asia report yesterday (12 Jan 2018), it was reported that Dr Liu Thai Ker continues to push for population growth despite Singapore encountering a spate of MRT breakdowns in recent times.

He said that the recent spate of train breakdowns should not mean that Singapore’s population will have to stop growing. In a TV interview on 11 Jan, he said, “MRT breakdown has totally nothing to do with planning. It has everything to do with administration (and) management.”

“You cannot say because the MRT breaks down, so we should not let the city grow. They are two unrelated issues,” he added.

In fact, the train breakdowns became so bad that SMRT was forced to shut down entire sections of a train line to facilitate maintenance works last Dec.

But Liu is adamant that Singapore can accommodate even more people than present population. In 2014, he publicly advocated that Singapore could comfortably house a population of 10 million.

Liu has its own architecture firm

Liu was a former CEO of Housing Development Board (HDB) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), where he oversaw the completion of over half a million HDB homes.

After leaving the civil service, he went to work at a private architect firm, RSP Architects Planners & Engineers, as its senior director.

Last year, he left RSP to start his own architect firm, Morrow. His firm employs some 40 people with some of his former RSP staff joining him. It was reported in ST that he couldn’t agree with the new management style of a “more disciplined, corporate” approach by RSP’s parent company, Rowsley, which is an investment firm controlled by billionaire Peter Lim.

“I felt that as a design firm, our hands would have been tied. In my 25 years at RSP, I have basically operated as an independent unit, so I thought it was time to leave,” he said.

Liu said he wants his new company to focus on imbuing the next generation of architects with his “proven” design ideas. “I have my own brand of planning theories and I know it’s been proven correct, because Singapore today is a result of those theories I applied 30 years ago, and it has turned out to be a good city,” he said.

In his interview with ST, he touted his “scientifically correct way” to build a city – including the nitty-gritty of calculating how many schools or shopping centres are needed in each small town.

Liu told ST that he has no plans to retire anytime soon and intends to work for as long as he can, presumably until he dies. (source)

In any case, with more population growth, it could only mean that there would be more business for HDB, developers, construction companies as well as architect firms like Morrow, Liu’s very own architect firm.

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