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in hospitality, due to imported labour and lack of a minimum wage, mean few Singaporeans enter the business. “What the Singapore government doesn’t get is

that is that if you don’t know how to wait tables or work the satay station, you can’t work in this industry, even if you have an MBA.” He hopes the IRs will provide impetus for higher

wages and higher standards to attract better staff and deliver a better product. “At the IRs, things are going to be expensive,”

Kimble says, “so they’re going to have to be good.”


“The Sands Expo and Convention Centre will

increase Singapore’s appeal as a place for business to meet,” Marina Bay Sands CEO Thomas Arasi says. Expanding facilities for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) was a key factor behind Singapore’s decision to legalise casinos. “The size of the Marina Sands convention facilities

puts Singapore in a whole new league,” Horwath’s Robert Hecker observes. But that new league may not offer many expansion

opportunities. Singapore is already Asia’s top convention destination and third most popular globally. The vast majority of mega-meetings that could fill

the Sands centre, and the thousands of added hotel rooms in and around the IRs, are based in the Western hemisphere, according to experts, with little prospect of moving east. Asia’s share, perhaps 10 percent of the total, includes

events tied to Japan and China likely to stay put. Arasi is optimistic: “We have just announced a

strong line-up of events that will bring over 150,000 attendees to the integrated resort beginning 2010. Several of these events are new to Singapore and some are returning to Singapore after more than a decade.” That sounds great, but Macau has heard similar

MICE promises without seeing any real impact on the overall market.


“We seek to be a global city, attracting talent from around the world, lively, vibrant, and fun to live and

16 APRIL 2010

work in. We want Singapore to have the X-factor – that buzz that you get in London, Paris or New York.” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gave that

explanation in April 2005 to help justify casino legalisation. “Singapore is a place that people want to visit but

are sometimes disappointed when they arrive as there is not a huge amount to do,” CLSA’s Aaron Fischer observes. “With the IRs, people will now stay longer and

come back for repeat visits.” That’s likely to be true, but it’s hardly the

revolutionary transformation Lee envisioned. The IRs may simply expand what Singapore already

has: more shopping, more business meetings, more ill-gotten funds, say from Russia as well as Asia, finding their way into property and other investments. Or the IRs may spark the best and brightest in

Singapore and the region to find new ways to exploit the city-state’s international crossroads status, its wealth, and other advantages. They IRs may also lead the government to loosen

up, or that may be a necessary condition to attract, retain and inspire those best and brightest. “Singapore has no idea what is about to hit it with

the opening of the IRs,” Menu’s Devin Kimble a resident of the city-state since 1995, says. “Singapore opened up to casinos because it doesn’t

have much other choice. We need something extra and that will be to develop a ‘fun’ infrastructure. Eventually, the society will have to open up to

make it work. And I think it will. Asian societies don’t tend to stay particularly puritanical where money’s to be made.” “Singapore is a geographic and historical accident that prospered by being more efficient than the rest of Asia, and more capitalist and pro- West than China,” Aaron Brown, hedge fund manager in New York and author of The Poker Face of Wall Street, observes. “The competition has gotten much fiercer in both areas. Singapore must somehow package independence plus efficiency into a salable product for business, talent and recreation. “If it can’t do it for resorts, it will eventually lose it for everything.” Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46
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