Dr Liu is concurrently the Founding Chairman of Centre for Liveable Cities since 2008. The Centre is a knowledge hub created jointly by the Ministry of National Development and the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources.
He has served as the Adjunct Professor of the School of Design and Environment and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. He is also the Adjunct Professor in the College of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University. He is a member of several governmental bodies in Singapore, and planning advisor to around 30 cities in China.
As Architect-Planner and CEO of the Housing & Development Board, 1969-1989, he oversaw the completion of over half a million dwelling units. As CEO and Chief Planner of Urban Redevelopment Authority, 1989-1992, he spearheaded the major revision of the Singapore Concept Plan and key direction for heritage conservation.
The Republic should plan for a population of 10 million in the long term if it is to remain sustainable as a country, says the man known widely as the architect of modern Singapore. According to Liu Thai Ker, Singapore should not stop its population growth projection at the figure of 6.9 million listed in the 2013 White Paper on Population.
"That is an interim figure and projection and obviously Singapore is going to grow beyond that," he said yesterday at a seminar, "Building a Nation: Tomorrow, Challenges and Possibilities for a Liveable Singapore".
As architect-planner and CEO of the Housing Development Board from 1969 to 1989, Mr Liu oversaw the completion of over half a million public housing units, and as CEO and chief planner of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) from 1989 to 1992, he spearheaded the major revision of the Singapore Concept Plan and key direction for heritage conservation.
"The question is: How long do you want Singapore to exist as a sovereign state? Certainly beyond 2030, so we should plan for the longer term and for this 10 million figure as we cannot curb population growth after 2030."
Mr Liu explained that it was necessary for Singapore to plan for the longer term than for the 17 years it had planned for in the White Paper. He suggested that even though Singapore has a lot of land to be reclaimed and there is a lot of land set aside for industrial purposes that can be converted for other use, it is still better to plan for the long term so that there is a better estimate of the amount of land that is required.
"So if we need to reclaim more land from the sea, we can plan for it and do so."
Conversely, Mr Liu argued that shorter-term population planning would result in higher density as each time the population projection is made, the government may increase land density as it does not have a longer-term view of the amount of land that may be needed and that it has available. "Overall, this results in Singapore's land density increasing."
Mr Liu told BT that the 10 million figure was projected on how much Singapore could grow long term for the next 80-150 years at a population growth rate of less than one per cent each year. He said that if the growth rate were based on the upper limit of the projection of the 2013 White Paper, at 6.9 million, then Singapore could reach a population of 10 million by 2090. If however, it is based on the lower limit of 6.5 million then we may reach 10 million by 2200.