Remembering the Legacy of Tao Shing Pee

Features | 08 September 2021

  • Mr Tao receiving an award from then President Tony Tan Keng Yam for his contributions towards shaping Singapore in its early years as a young nation. Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

Singapore Land would not be where it is today if not for the entrepreneurial spirit and gumption of its former chairman Tao Shing Pee, who passed away recently at the age of 105.

Mr Tao, who was a naturalised Singapore citizen of Chinese origin, was pivotal in growing Singapore Land as a developer of prime commercial properties and into one of the largest public-listed companies in Singapore during his tenure as its chairman from 1973 to 1996.

Key properties that were developed under his charge include Clifford Centre, Shell Tower (later renamed Singapore Land Tower), Marina Square and The Gateway, each considered projects that were ahead of their time. Significantly, Mr Tao had said, “Singapore’s skyline is changing. Singapore Land is helping to change it.”

He led Singapore Land through a period of rapid expansion in the Seventies, with the company developing more than one million square feet of prime commercial space in the central business district by the end of the decade.

The following 10 years were marked by ambitious mega projects including Marina Square, Singapore’s first multi-functional, integrated development comprising a retail mall and three world-class hotels, built entirely on reclaimed land. Today, the development is a major part of the vibrant Marina Bay area and owes itself to Mr Tao’s visionary leadership that adeptly steered the company through Singapore’s first post-independence recession in the 80s.

As one of the Chinese business pioneers who chose to remain in Singapore after the country gained independence, Mr Tao was a well-known business figure who contributed significantly to Singapore’s economic development while also actively giving back to society.

As we remember Mr Tao, we pay tribute to the visionary that he was, and endeavour to continue the pioneering spirit with which he built Singapore Land.

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