S ingapore has never viewed its land constraints as a handicap. We see efforts made to strategically shift the country towards value-added and more land-efficient economic activities. One example is JTC’s development of the Surface Engineering Hub. This multi-tenanted development brings together companies in the entire surface engineering value chain. It features a centralised wastewater treatment plant (CWTP), which helps companies in surface engineering activities to reduce space requirements, operational costs and upfront capital investment.
This example highlights JTC’s efforts in pioneering innovative space solutions. JTC Scholar Ng Li Hui tells us that the organisation is developing “unconventional specialised industrial facilities”, and is also “leading major studies for innovative systems and major structures”. These developments will undoubtedly make a significant difference to Singapore’s economic growth.
As a Geography graduate, Li Hui chose to pursue a scholarship with JTC as she knew she would be able to apply geography-related concepts learnt in university. At JTC, Singapore’s lead industrial infrastructure developer, Li Hui also has the ability to explore her interests in business and industry development.
Leading Up To An Eventful Career
Li Hui pursued her bachelor’s degree in geography at the University of Oxford, UK. She chose Oxford due to its tailored tutorial system – weekly tutorials with professors among groups of two to three students gave her an outlet to interrogate ideas and arguments. She also appreciated the modules offered which covered a mix of traditional subjects such as geomorphology, and unconventional subjects like forensic geography.
Thereafter, Li Hui obtained a master’s degree in international planning from the Bartlett School of Planning at University College London (UCL), UK. While she was there, she was enriched by the blend of theoretical and practical concepts the course emphasised, and the international perspectives she gained on planning. She enthuses, “There really is no better place to study planning than in a city like London!”
As part of the JTC scholarship, Li Hui’s development was also given a huge boost with two internships she underwent at JTC’s Land Planning Division (LPD). The first internship took place before she went to university and the second was during her second year as an undergraduate. These two internship stints saw her in various departments within JTC’s LPD. Some of the projects she worked on then included the study of green buffer fulfilment at Changi Business Park, plot ratio policy and research on logistics systems. In fact, she is currently working on long-term projects that she was first exposed to as an intern!
Ng Li Hui
JTC Full-Term Scholar
Assistant Manager, Land Resource Management
LAND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
Today, she fulfils her role as Assistant Manager within the Land Resource Management Department. This department manages the industrial land bank – more specifically, it recovers land from and allocates land to companies. Li Hui also handles estate operations and plans for the redevelopment of estates.
Varied in nature, she shares that her role “ranges from planning the road network for a 70-hectare estate to assessing the measures to be taken when someone encroaches on one of JTC lessee’s land”. Furthermore, she has undertaken the responsibility of master-planning and partakes in studies for land use innovation.
When asked what is fulfilling about her job, Li Hui remarks, “As land resource is scarce in Singapore, there are always multiple stakeholders invested in determining how a piece of land is used. What is most fulfilling about managing land resource is coming up with an optimal solution to suit various interests in a complex case, overcoming constraints of the land, satisfying stakeholders and maximising land use.”
NOT WITHOUT CHALLENGES
A fulfilling job does not come without challenges – Li Hui’s experiences can probably have her stand testament to this. Li Hui recounts, “One such challenge is in the case of sites facing numerous constraints, yet still having to adhere to an accelerated timeline for their development. A way to overcome such challenges is to understand the nature and history of the site in detail. This reduces the risk of us going back to the drawing board when we encounter new considerations. To go deep, one has to dig into archives, understand the needs of businesses, consult other agencies on national planning intentions, tap on the expertise of various JTC divisions, fine-tune one’s intuition and build up one’s experience.”
There was also one instance when Li Hui was trying to resolve the land issues for a new JTC development. She elaborates, “The development had long been conceptualised to be located at a site in my estate. However, following the site investigation, we discovered underground constraints that rendered the site unsuitable. We first studied whether it was possible to divert these underground structures, but realised we couldn’t reconcile the timeline of the underground infrastructure diversion with the business urgency to build this development. After amending the planned road network, we managed to shift the site to avoid the underground constraints, only to find an air-based constraint imposed on the proposed development. We were finally able to resolve this by flipping the layout of the development. It was memorable because the time pressure made the whole process very intense”.
Through these trying times, Li Hui hopes to be able to accumulate experience that she can leverage to make a “better assessment of land issues that arise”. She shares that perhaps no obstacle is insurmountable at JTC when its staff demonstrate dedication and teamwork. “My challenges have taught me that nothing is too difficult for us at JTC if we put our minds to it and work together,” Li Hui rounds off inspiringly.