SCHOLARS'

EXPERIENCE

Helping Singapore optimise her land resources
By Feng Zengkun
Working at SLA has enabled Mr Leow Wei Jing to further develop his skills and knowledge in areas of specialisation such as data analytics and real estate.
PHOTO: FRENCHESCAR LIM

SLA scholar Leow Wei Jing derives great satisfaction in understanding how the country manages its limited land and maximises its use

From a park connector in Woodlands to an industrial development in Tuas, Mr Leow Wei Jing has had a hand in seeing these projects come to fruition.

He manages temporary occupation licences (TOLs) issued to government agencies and private developers for the interim use of state land during construction projects.

“It has been very satisfying to be part of Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and contribute to Singapore’s development,” says the 26-year-old senior executive.

Having taken up SLA’s local full-term undergraduate scholarship in 2016, he pursued a degree in economics with a second major in applied statistics at Singapore Management University (SMU).

“I wanted to have a career where I could better understand how Singapore manages its land use, especially since land is a scarce resource in the country,” he explains.

While pursuing his education, he interned at several departments within SLA and learnt more about the various functions within the organisation. He had the opportunity to be attached to these divisions: Business Planning & Development, Land Transfer & Land Sale, Land Acquisition & Purchase, and Tenancy & Licence Management.

“The unique experiences at each department gave me a great overview of SLA’s diverse work. I also got to work with officers on projects and be mentored by them,” says Mr Leow.

After his graduation from SMU, he began working full-time at SLA in June 2020 – right in the midst of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

“Due to the safe management measures at the time, I was not allowed to physically meet any of my colleagues on my first day at work,” he recalls.

“Fortunately, my colleagues and supervisors arranged video calls, and SLA’s Human Resource division organised virtual welcome sessions for newcomers too.

“Learning to do my job remotely has not been easy compared with face-to-face interactions, but my colleagues have been very helpful and patient in guiding me,” he says.

DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF REAL ESTATE ENVIRONMENT

Since he joined SLA full-time, Mr Leow has been with the Tenancy & Licence Management Division. He explains that when a developer needs to use state land in the vicinity of their project – for example, as a construction worksite or site office – they have to apply to SLA for a TOL.

“We follow up with the developer to assess the application, including getting further details such as the proposed boundary and usages. We also consult with other agencies to check if the application conflicts with any development plans.”

Mr Leow adds that government agencies also approach SLA for a TOL for the use of state land to facilitate industrial development and public infrastructure projects.

He has also been assisting in his department’s budget-related matters and recently became part of a new inter-departmental team exploring ways to streamline SLA’s data management processes, including the use of data visualisation and analytics.

To help him hone new skills and pick up relevant domain knowledge, SLA has also sent him for multiple in-house and external courses. These included data analytics courses and a real estate programme at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

He says: “After attending the NUS programme, I understood more about the real estate environment. It also helped me to appreciate the processes related to my job.”

Mr Leow adds that his work at SLA has been fulfilling and eye-opening at the same time.

“I used to think that developing a site was simply about its construction. Now I see the in-depth planning and coordination that take place behind the scenes,” he says.

“Having this first-hand experience in conducting land operations work has definitely helped me to better appreciate the constraints – and coordination required – at the ground level.”

Visit go.gov.sg/slasch for more information.

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