Asia too has active private sector participation in both hard and soft infrastructure, through city or local economic development and city public-private partnerships.

In older times, conglomerates such as Jardine Matheson helped to shape Asian cities like Hong Kong.


More recently, the Asian private sector has tended to focus on a few industrial and commercial sites as well as buildings, roads, railways, industrial and potable water, telecommunications or energy systems. Soft infrastructure has included business advisory services, skills training, private education, as well as capital and finance.

But going full circle, a current trend is for one mega Asian private company to develop an entire Asian community or city, all by itself.

Take, for instance, Indonesia’s Lippo Karawaci township. Lippo Group, a leading broad-based property company, built the township in Tangerang, west of Jakarta, in 1993. Previously a swamp area, today it has become a benchmark urban development, known for its clean environment and excellent infrastructure.

Another example is Sentul City (also in Indonesia). Sentul is a satellite town located in the sub-province of Bogor. It was developed in 1993 and covers 3100 hectares. The Sentul City company aims to make the city the largest and exclusive urban development project in the south of Jakarta.

Such are shining examples of people with big visions, working with public civil servants, foreign investors and other groups to economically develop micro-Asian cities and communities as de-centralised city developers.

Lawrence Yeo is CEO of AsiaBIZ Strategy, a Singapore-based consultancy that provides Asia market research and investment/trade promotion services.