Turning Fullerton into hotel was right decision: SM Goh

It was once where he had lunch in the canteen in between working and learning from first-generation political leaders like Dr Goh Keng Swee.

But now The Fullerton Hotel has evolved into a thriving commercial and heritage space in the Central Business District that will help give Singapore a “significant competitive edge” to grow the financial sector, said Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.

Having prime space at downtown Marina Bay to expand the district is crucial at a time when opportunities in Asia abound.

Marina Bay, said Mr Goh, was a great example of how the country had risen from “mudflats to metropolis”.

Speaking at the 10th anniversary celebration of The Fullerton Hotel yesterday, Mr Goh said “The Fullerton Heritage” development was part of efforts to transform Singapore into a distinctive and dynamic global city. The event also saw the launch of a book paying tribute to the historical significance of the Fullerton area.

The Fullerton Heritage, spanning 1.4 million sq ft along the waterfront, comprises a mixture of dining and hospitality options.

The Fullerton Building, opened in 1928, was home to public offices like the General Post Office and Finance Ministry.

Mr Goh himself started his civil service, shipping and political careers at the building, where he worked and learned from the likes of Dr Goh and Mr Lim Kim San, and top public officers like Mr Joe Pillay and Mr Ngiam Tong Dow.

“I had worked in offices on the second floor, fifth floor and also the small space up on the sixth floor. You can say that I literally worked my way up in Fullerton Building,” said Mr Goh, adding that few knew that Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) was incorporated in Fullerton Building.

NOL later moved to its own premises and Mr Goh joined it a few years later.

In 1976, he stood for election and was appointed Senior Minister of State for Finance a year later. “Like a homing pigeon, I returned to Fullerton Building where the Finance Ministry was,” he said.

The decision to turn the building into a hotel showed that the Government had learned about the value of location. The food at the canteen – where an Italian restaurant now stands – was “not at all great”, despite the “beautiful view”, said Mr Goh, and turning the Fullerton Building into The Fullerton Hotel 10 years ago, instead of retaining it as a public building, was “the right decision” by the Government.

Source : Today – 31 Mar 2011

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