Speech by Mr Peter Ong, Chairman, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, at the closing ceremony of Clifford Pier

Home > Articles > Press Releases > 2006 > Speech by Mr Peter Ong, Chairman, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, at the closing ceremony of Clifford Pier

MPA returned Clifford Pier to SLA on 13 April 2006. The site, including the former Customs Harbour Branch at 40 Collyer Quay, will subsequently be made available on the Confirmed List under the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme in June 2006. Below is the speech made by Guest-of-Honour, Mr Peter Ong (Chairman, MPA), at the closing ceremony of Clifford Pier on 13 April.

Distinguished Guests
Friends from the Maritime Community, Good Evening

  • We are here today to mark a milestone in Singapore 's history. As we have just seen from the video, Clifford Pier has played an important part in our island's history. Indeed, I would not be far wrong to say that Clifford Pier is probably the best known pier in the history of modern Singapore . Thus, for the wider Singapore community, beyond the maritime community, I am sure that Clifford Pier holds many nostalgic memories for them. Whether it was the boat operator who took divers to the Southern Islands, the devotees who embarked on their boat ride to take them to Kusu Island, or the tourist who took a Singapore river cruise from here, all these will be etched in the minds of many as we say 'Goodbye' to what I would call the grand old lady of our piers.

    Clifford Pier - Historical Role as a People Mover

  • Clifford Pier will be fondly remembered not just as a landing point but also a place where different races and cultures met and interacted. In the 1930s, one of Clifford Pier's functions was to process immigrants. Then, many came to Singapore from faraway lands in search of a better life here. From the 1950s to the 1970s, Clifford Pier enjoyed what could be described as its 'heyday'. Popularly know as "Ang Teng" or "Red Lamp" harbour, it was a place of interest for both visitors and locals alike. Tongkangs would line the pier offering their water-transport services along the Singapore River , while fishing enthusiasts would drop their lines in hope of catching a fish or two. For sailors and mariners, Clifford Pier became a natural meeting point. It was also a favourite haunt for couples!

  • In the late 1970s, a large urban expansion was undertaken at Clifford Pier. Additional piers, a whole new complex, the Aerial Plaza featuring Singapore 's only revolving restaurant, and the first air-conditioned pedestrian overpass to Change Alley were added. From the 1980s, Clifford Pier became a terminal for ferry and launch services for trips to the Southern islands such as Kusu and St John's Islands . In the 1990s, the hustle and bustle of the pier continued apace as short leisure cruises onboard vessels such as the "Cheng Ho" were launched for tourists who wanted to capture Singapore 's skyline from the sea.

  • Clifford Pier's history and development thus mirrors the history of Singapore . It has played an important role in Singapore 's beginnings as a migrant society, and it has continued to serve us well even in today's modern Singapore. Despite the passage of time, Clifford Pier has remained in remarkably good condition. It has become a part of our national heritage and a notable historical landmark.

    Future of Clifford Pier - Preserving the Past, a New Role for the Future

  • On 1 st April this year, Clifford Pier ceased operations after serving as a public landing point for some seventy-three years. While we witnessed the "crossing" over of the ferry and launch services from Clifford Pier to the new Marina South Pier, I am glad that we will not be writing the final chapter on Clifford Pier. I am pleased to announce that the Clifford Pier will be conserved for its historical and architectural significance. The conserved building will be part of a 2.62-ha sale site with the former Customs Harbour Branch building that will be launched for sale in June this year. I am sure the Art-Deco architecture of the Pier's building will find favour with developers and they will discover its potential and inject new vitality into this historic building.

  • Many old, historic buildings in the Central Business District have been given a new lease of life. Their architecture has been restored, developers have breathed new life into them by refurbishing them, and new businesses now flourish in these historic buildings. Examples not far from where we are now include the former Fullerton post office, now the Fullerton Hotel, Lau Pa Sat Market and the former TAS Building . So whilst we conserve these buildings for their architectural uniqueness, they can be put to a range of uses that would breathe new life into them.

  • With the construction of the Marina Barrage to create a "Reservoir within a City" and URA's plan to develop the surrounding waterfront as a live-work-play hub, life for Clifford Pier will no doubt begin a new chapter as part of the necklace of existing and upcoming cultural and lifestyle attractions around Marina Bay, including The Esplanade, Singapore Flyer, 'Gardens by the Bay' and the Marina Integrated Resort.

    Marina Bay as bay of celebration

  • The closure of the barrage and the transfer of boats from Marina Bay to Marina South will open a new "arena" within Marina Bay to host more recreational activities and world-class on-water events. Marina Bay is set to become a bay of celebration. URA is working with agencies like Public Utilities Board, Singapore Tourism Board, Singapore Sports Council, National Parks Board and National Arts Council, as well as partner stakeholders to bring more life to the Bay progressively, as more attractions at the waterfront get completed.

    Recognising Contributions to the Singapore Maritime Industry

  • We have earmarked many of our historical buildings for conservation to ensure that generations of Singaporeans do not forget the importance each era has played in building the Singapore of today. Likewise, the people who have contributed to Singapore 's growth as a nation should be recognised and remembered. In the maritime sector, it needs no repeating the importance of the maritime industry to the Singapore economy. The maritime sector today is responsible for about 7% of Singapore 's GDP. This has been achieved because of the unstinting support of our maritime partners, helping Singapore attain our goal to be a leading International Maritime Centre.

  • Ladies and gentlemen, to commend companies and individuals who have, in one way or another, made outstanding contributions to the development of Singapore an International Maritime Centre, I am pleased to announce that the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore will be introducing new award categories at its annual International Maritime Awards, which will be held in the last week of September as part of our inaugural 'Maritime Week'. For this year, the following awards will be introduced:
    1. The International Maritime Centre Award (recognising an individual or a company who has contributed to Singapore as an IMC)

    2. The Bunker Award (recognising an outstanding bunker supplier or bunker tanker operator that has demonstrated commitment to quality standards, quantity assurances and customer satisfaction)

    3. The Outstanding Maritime R&D and Technology Award (recognising a company or research institution for outstanding innovation in the application or R&D of technology for the maritime industry)

    4. The Excellence in Training Development Award (recognising a company who have demonstrated commitment and excellence in training and development); and

    5. The Singapore Registry of Ships' Owner of the Year Award (recognising an outstanding ship owner of quality Singapore-registered ships)

  • I would like to encourage the maritime community to nominate deserving candidates for the various award categories. More details on these awards can be found on MPA's website.
  • Conclusion

  • To conclude, I would like to thank all of you for joining us this evening. In a short while, we will be making a historic trip to mark the closure of Clifford Pier. But let us not look on this as a last goodbye to this familiar landmark. Instead, let us look on today as the birth of a new life for this building, which will ensure that the memory of Clifford Pier remains etched in the hearts and minds of present and future Singaporeans.