Is Tianjin Eco-City a “role model” like DPM Tharman says despite billions of dollars of cost overruns?


The Straits Times (ST) published a rosy picture of the Tianjin Eco-City (TEC) today (26 Jun), which the Singapore govt has heavily invested in for nearly a decade.

“Nearly nine years after construction began for Tianjin Eco-City (TEC), saltpans and barren land inhospitable to both cultivation and industry have been transformed into a city of high rises and green spaces,” ST said.

“The eco-city project – a collaboration between the Singapore and Chinese governments – has today reached ‘an inflection point’ where demand for homes now exceeds supply,” DPM Tharman told reporters in Tianjin.

BG Tay Lim Hen, the current CEO and the 4th one who oversees the development of TEC, even boasted to reporters saying that predictions that TEC would end up as one of a growing number of ghost cities, have been proven wrong.

Today, the 30 sq km township has a 70,000-strong population, and over 27,000, or 90 per cent, of its apartments have been sold, he proudly proclaimed.

BG Tay used to be 6th Division Commander and Assistant Chief of General Staff (Operations) fo SAF.

Only 20% target population reached

However, the fact of the matter is, when TEC was launched 10 years ago in 2007, it was planned to support a population of 350,000 in its investment plan. At 70,000, only 20% of the target population has been achieved thus far.

It was also projected to cost about S$9.7 billion and targeted for completion between 2018 and 2023.

No doubt, BG Tay would probably argue that the completion date has yet to be reached.

However, most intriguing was a report last year by Le Monde, a French newspaper, quoting Chinese officials in TEC saying that there has been massive cost overruns in TEC.

“The cost of the project, on the other hand, has greatly exceeded expectations. Between 80 and 100 billion yuan (11 to 14 billion euros) have already been spent, for a final bill that should climb to 230 billion yuan (32 billion euros), according to the managers,” reported Le Monde.

Massive cost overruns

In other words, if these quoted figures are correct, some S$16 to 20 billion have already been spent on TEC and the final bill, to Singaporeans, would be S$46 billion!

It’s no secret that financing of the project comes from Singapore in this joint venture with Tianjin. This far exceeds the S$9.7 billion in the original TEC investment plan.

Le Monde also revealed that one of the main reasons the apartments were able to sell is because of housing subsidies. Le Monde reported, “Zhang Meijie, along with her husband and two children, are among those who opted for Tianjin… But the real decider, for Zhang Meijie, is that housing was subsidized. As such they were able to get their apartment below market cost. Too bad for her husband, who has to commute an hour to work each way.”

Le Monde added that interest from the business community has also been “less than hoped for”.

In other cities in China, they have become a “ghost city” simply because many of the city govts or developers ran out of money in developing them. In the case of TEC, the Singapore government continues to “invest” Singapore’s public monies into it.

S$16 to 20 billion already spent on Singapore Tianjin eco-"ghost" city?

Constructions will continue, no doubt. Buildings will not be left unfinished and no massive debts are incurred, unlike the situation in other Chinese “ghost” cities- all because of the deep pockets of the Singapore Government filled with taxpayers’ money.



  1. They can ask our Foreign Affairs Minister for advice on how to spin their way out of this budgeting mess. After all, he has had plenty of actual experience when he grossly under budgeted the Youth Olympics under his charge by more than 10 times. 🙁

  2. Tax payers $$$, no affect their monthly allowance, whom care . The G only care their own pocket , their spouses only care their monthly allowance so every G MP is the Yes men n Mdm

    • Precisely. The MIW are still just as arrogant and naive as ever and they never wake up, because they never feel the pinch. Being paid millions by ordinary “peasant-class” citizens of Singapore, these “self-styled natural aristocrats” get their adrenaline rush in squandering billions of dollars, and then pronounced it “Very Good”.

      They poured $600m into Virgin Airlines and 4 years later sold off their stake for $400m, and declared that it was “good investment” — and “did not lose money”

      As long as the daft 70% continues to call Wolves as Sheep, Singapore is doomed

  3. Pap takes the citizens CPF contribution to finance this failed project that has no benefit to the people, and leave the citizens with poor CPF return that is grossly inadequate for average citizen to retire. Their misplaced generosity to other countries is at the people’s expense yet they are not accountable for the mismanagement.

  4. Why the government cannot have the project in Singapore ? Instead spend taxpayers moneys overseas beautified other people country n give housing subsidies to their citizens . Why not SINGAPOREANS?

  5. In order to curry favor with chinese govt, lky n son invested billions of dollars in failed projects like suzhou n tianjin industrial parks, just so that temasek can get to buy chinese banks and companies stocks. Now both are under water and taxpayer has to pay the cost! To boot, chinese govt dont even invite s’pore on the rail project. Absolute pathetic n waste!!

  6. The project is 10 years old and only 70,000 residents? In Singapore over the last 10 years how many NEW CITIZENS have been given housing? 450,000. Now do you know why the ruling party manage to get 70% support. The new citizens are the one who gave support in gratitude of citizenship, preferred, school for their kids, Free scholarship and so. What do you real Singaporeans get?

  7. I am just a fellow Singaporean. Never like to comments on issues relating to Singapore politic. However, with the recent happening with Lee’s Family which I started following the Facebook posts and comments. I must say…it so easy to point out what we perceived as inadequacy of the Politicians. Sometime, I wondering, if those folks who make those comments would give some encouragement to these politicians who already facing mounting pressure to get thing right Everyday. Well they might be pay millions to get their job right but is there a better way to Ensure our Singapore survival by not reaching out and investing or make Long term plan which are not easily predicable and make decision based on the call of the day? Anyway, Choosing to scold my kids and demoralise their spirit or give them grace and encouragement to build confidence. I think the latter works better. There is seriously no short cut to our country success. We complained during LKY era, but his passing make millions stop and appreciate what he has done. We are all in the same rainbow…ride it. Because bigger the storm, a brighter rainbow will set in after it. We have 1 Facebook page that encourages and many which do nothing but add fuel to the fire. All for advertising revenue. We are uniquely Singapore. A Red Dot! Like it or not.. it only a dot that need to be red hot all the time.

    • It is always easy to complaint and make negative comments. But when asked for a solution all of those folks will walk away or act dumb. Asked to take their jobs and they will say they have better things to do. Politics are a dirty job but someone have gotta do it. Unless we can find a better option to take over the team now, I think they are doing fine so far. If we cannot get a better team or a better solution for the existing team, I think encouragement would be a better option for them to work harder for us.

      • Bryan,
        I surmise that you are a good guy, but looks like you are an unfortunate victim of the sinister Brain-Washing juggernaut that the PAP had put in place for the last 50 years. The effect today is that we have a massive 70% who are unable to think anymore, cannot discern, and totally puppetized by the evil MIW.

        These not only cannot see the wolves under the sheep skins, but now even as the wolves come in wolves’ clothing, they will still scream out hysterically “Sheep, Sheep, how great thou art”

        You are totally wrong that there are no better persons or teams to take over. The stark fact is that the PAP has gone out of the way to destroy anything and anyone it perceives to threaten their stranglehold onto power. Never mind if that tenacious grip will destroy Singapore.

        Throughout the entire history of mankind, any political entity in power that tried to extend it beyond one generation, and make a dynasty out of it, would eventually bring about its own demise, as well as the destruction of the country. (Perhaps you never read history, except for the case where one Hakka man educated in England turned a fishing village into a 21st century metropolis)

    • your comments are childish and naive.
      how can you compare running a contry to bringing up your kids?
      these are politicians. they have made a mistake, and should own up and come clean.
      its not about critics not contesting in politics. they have already destroyed many who dare to speak up. but if you are one of the eunuchs and concubines and cronies, you are given many juicy bones. maybe, you are one of them.
      and just cos we raise concerns does not mean we have to contest.
      bringing in lky and using his ‘leegacy’ and claiming many stopped to think of his contributions is mischievous. if not for goh keng swee and winsemius building up the economy, sg would be lost. now, we do not have these 2, just look at all the mess.
      the white clowns cannot live and depend on past ‘glories’.
      why invest in a prestige project that gives great face value but no investment values?
      anyway, despite the bragging, we have a right to know whether tec makes or lost money. it is OUR money.
      its within OUR right to comment.

  8. The last I resided in Tianjin I heard fantastic things about the eco-city. Things like underground dumpsters carted away on tracks if I remembered correctly. How come our dumpsters still need workers and is above ground?

  9. Well, it have come this time my foresight of what going to happen to the island of Singapore is pretty true in deeds and I’ve kept on saying that for the last few years under a different identity and it also the FACT and REALITY that Singaporean think i’m a trouble-maker….

    BUT I’m NOT I’m just saying that when a Party like the PAP who have rules for so many years and let me tell you all die-heart Singaporean of your principle of your damn LIFE….”They (PAP) are the only one that can manage our country….WELL…”WRONG” the longer a person into ruling the country they become very easily “Legal Corrupted & Corruption will SEAT in when one rule the country long enoght” to lace a person/leaders into “Taking advantage of the TRUST” GREED…they (PAP) draft out POLICIES that says , “We Reserve the RIGHT to ROB you LEGALLY with their Housing Policies & Minimum Sums of Money in CPF” you IDIOTS Singaporean never LEARNED the word well enough and NOT just the Damn Older Generation of Singaporean who got their “Pioneer Card” Stupidly never learnt but even the “Educated and Well Travelled” one who just busy with what they wanted and you guys ALL are SELFISH Bunch of Singaporean.

    and they (Foreign Telent & New Citizen) are just draining out the damn moneies & Reserve out of our Fore-Father SWEAT and without even going to WAR and a “BULLET” fired from the Rifles in just seconds we are back to 3rd WORLD and “Thank you Singaporean both Old & Younger generation.

    PURE…STUPIDITY……Now Lee Hsien Yang understand how we felt being CONTROLLER by the PAP like…..

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