Business

Singapore: good for business but not much fun for a SG investment fund exec

Singapore has fewer bars than Hong Kong. In order to become a leading financial hub, the Singapore executive of a sovereign investment fund thinks the city could be more fun than having pure business-related events.

Milken Institute panel
“The Power of Global Investment Hubs” panel. The COO of GIC thinks Singapore could be more fun to become a leading financial hub | © Milken Institute

On November 15, during an event organized by the economic think tank Milken institute, the chief operating officer of a Singapore sovereign fund suggested more “fun” could be injected in Singapore.

On the question of what is Singapore missing to make it a leading financial city during the round-table “The Power of Global Investment Hubs“, Lim Hock Tay, COO of GIC first praised the “first-class entertainment that attracts a lot of top business leaders” in Singapore.

GIC is one of the three investment entities of Singapore, managing and diversifying the government’s foreign reserves worth approximately US $400 billion.

But he also shared a personal opinion, a bit “provocative“: injecting a little bit more “fun” in Singapore.

“Something that is more than just in the pure [financial] ecosystem. The glue that puts people together is this fun element“, he added.

Suffering from a lack of natural landscape, the minister for Trade and Industry of Singapore wants to invest in innovative experiences, in “the intangibles“, in order to boost the city tourism. 

In August, a museum of ice cream opened its doors in Singapore which has a few other attractions in construction.

Museum of Ice Cream pool
The Museum of Ice Cream Singapore opens its doors in August 2021 | Museum of Ice Cream

Fewer bars in Singapore than Hong Kong

While Lim Hock Tay suggested the seriousness in private equity might not help, he still thought it was possible “to have fun and work hard“. And he shared that he found there were more rooftop bars popping up on Google in Hong Kong than in Singapore.

In 2016, there were 283 pubs and bars registered in Singapore according to official data, without including restaurants or cafes. Far less than in Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong, there were more than 1,200 bars and pubs before the Covid-19 pandemic according to the Hong Kong Bar & Club Association.

Jacqueline Cho, Managing director of the Singapore economic development board and a panel participant, smilingly replied she could find a very good rooftop bar for him, and mentioned the Singapore cocktail festival.

In early November, Singapore lifted a 4-month-long ban for playing music in restaurants and bars because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Singapore plans to open The Skyhelix, a panoramic attraction where people would enjoy a drink 35 meters above ground with a 360-degree view experience next year. Almost as fun as a rooftop bar.

Read more about Singapore

Source
The Power of Global Investment Hubs, Melken Institute, November 2021, Free accessOfficial Foreign Reserves, Monetary Authority of Singapore, Free accessNewsletter of November 11, 2021, Newsendip, Free accessA Museum of Ice Cream As a Part of Singapore's Tourism Experience, Singapore, Newsendip, April 2021, Free access Key Indicators By Detailed Industry In Food & Beverage Services, Government of Singapore, Free accessMany Hong Kong bars won’t survive Covid-19 business ban for much longer, trade group warns, South China Morning Post, 2020, Restricted access
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