Cities can be great, given good planning and infrastructure, says Khaw Boon Wan

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan says investing ahead of demand is a major shift in Singapore's planning and development strategy.

Speaking during the debate on the White Paper, Mr Khaw said the government has learnt "a valuable lesson" from Singapore's current infrastructural problems. 

The new strategy is reflected in the White Paper on Population and the Land Use plan.

Mr Khaw said the new strategy will cost more.

Beyond public transport, which takes years to build, Mr Khaw noted that a new town needs all the amenities from hawker centres to childcare facilities. 

He said the government will try to incentivise merchants and service providers to start their businesses in new estates "from day one."

He also expressed shock at the recommendation by the Workers' Party - a freeze on the foreign worker population, immediately and for eight years. 

Mr Khaw said he would need more construction workers than what's currently available if he's to complete the ramped up construction programme. 

Currently, around 200 thousand homes are being built. 

He said taking up the recommendation would greatly affect this programme.

Mr Khaw also said that the quality of life will not go down. 

The future will not be a concrete jungle but a city in a garden. 

He said the two documents - the White Paper on Population and the Land Use Policy - being debated in parliament contain many statistics. 

He added that it's not just about the numbers but Singapore's future and its quality of life.