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Goh's Folly

Turning a swamp in Jurong into an industrial estate?

Dr Goh Keng Swee's (then Minister for Finance) plan seemed so improbable that it was nicknamed "Goh's Folly".

Yet, our founding leaders and people worked together and proved it could be done.

By 1969, after months of daily factory opening ceremonies, Jurong Industrial Estate became home to 181 factories with over 20,000 workers.

Inche Yusof Ishak (then Yang di-Pertuan Negara), Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Mr Hon Sui Sen (then Chairman of the Economic Development Board) and Dr Phay Seng Whatt (then Chairman of the Public Service Commission) surveying what would become the Jurong Industrial Estate in 1964.

Ministry of Information and the Arts Collection. Courtesy of National Archives of Singapore.


Mr Tan Kim Soo and his Long Service Award from National Iron and Steel Mills Pte Ltd

National Iron and Steel Mills Pte Ltd was the first factory that opened at Jurong Industrial Estate. Being a technician there was a dangerous job. Mr Tan had to climb heights and witnessed many workplace accidents and to protect his lungs, he used to breathe through a moist towel during work and took regular walks at MacRitchie Reservoir, and swam at the East Coast Lagoon after work. He also took on extra shifts to support his family and never talked about his accomplishments at work. Until today, his daughters look up to him for his grit and humility, and the care he showed his family over the years.

Courtesy of Mr Tan Kim Soo.

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