After Singapore gained independence in 1965, the government had a pressing need for an adequate supply of land to carry out its developmental projects, especially those concerning resettlement and industrialisation. The Land Acquisition Ordinance of 1920 was repealed by the Land Acquisition Act in 1966 so as to give the government the power of compulsory land acquisition for public development. The act also regulated the amount of compensation to be given to landowners who had their properties acquired by the government.
The Land Acquisition Act was passed by parliament on 26 October 1966 and came into effect on 17 June the following year. Any disputes between the government and landowners over the compensation amounts were presided over by an Appeals Board. To further expedite government developmental projects through land acquisition, the act was amended in 1973 in order to curb land speculation and limit the cost of land acquisition. The revised act fixed the compensation amount for acquired land at the market value as at 30 November 1973 or at the date of gazette notification, whichever was lower.
The Land Acquisition Act expedited the process of land possession by the government for public purposes. Between 1959 and 1984, the government acquired a total of 43,713 acres (17,690 ha or 177 sq km) of land, which constituted about one-third of the total land area of Singapore then. The bulk of land, however, was acquired under the Land Acquisition Act after 1967. With an increase in acquired land parcels, the government became the biggest landowner by 1985. At the time, the government owned 76.2 percent of the land in Singapore compared with 31 percent in 1949.
The compulsory acquisition of land by the government was effective in keeping the costs of building houses and industrial premises affordable. Cheaper and more effective land acquisition also resulted in better urban planning that facilitated the urban renewal efforts carried out by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and its predecessor the Urban Renewal Department in the central area, which led to the growth of the commercial and business district in downtown Singapore.
1. Ngiam, T. D. (2007, February 2). Taking over private turf for public’s good. Today, p. 12; Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Khublall, N. (1984). Law of compulsory purchase and compensation: Singapore and Malaysia (p. 7). Singapore; St. Paul, Minn.: Butterworths. Call no.: RSING 346.5957043 KHU.
2. PM gives details of new land bill. (1963, December 17). The Straits Times, p. 7; New changes in land bill. (1966, September 14). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Govt move to curb land profit in ‘boom’ areas. (1966, October 27). The Straits Times, p. 4; New land acquisition law comes into effect. (1967, June 17). Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Davidson, B. (1973, December 6). Dealers: Land bill will speed up development. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation. (n.d.). Provision of public housing in Singapore. Sharing Innovative Experiences, 4, 15–16. Retrieved November 21, 2013, from Global South-South Development Academy website: http://tcdc2.undp.org/GSSDAcademy/SIE/Docs/Vol4/Public_housing.pdf
5. Aleshire, I. (1986, October 18). Land Acquisition Act to be amended, says ministry. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Wong, A. K., & Yeh, S. H. K. (Eds.). (1985). Housing a nation: 25 years of public housing in Singapore (pp. 44–45). Singapore: Maruzen Asia. Call no.: RSING 363.5095957 HOU.
7. Kyunghwan, K., & Phang, S. Y. (2013, November). Singapore's housing policies: 1960–2013 (p. 127). Retrieved November 21, 2013, from K-Developedia website: https://www.kdevelopedia.org/mnt/idas/asset/2013/11/19/DOC/PDF/04201311190129109073270.pdf; Motha, P., & Yuen, B. K. P. (1999). Singapore real property guide (pp. 7–8). Singapore: Singapore University Press. Call no.: RSING 346.5957043 MOT.
8. Khublall, 1984, p. 11.
9. Chua, B. H. (1989). The Golden Shoe: Building Singapore's financial district (pp. 15–16). Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority. Call no.: RSING 711.5522095957 CHU.
The information in this article is valid as at 2013 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.