Singapore Update: November 9, 2017

Singapore Update | November 9, 2017
Authors: Riley Smith, Ian Saccomanno, and Natalie McDaniel
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

November 16: Roundtable on Pharma Pricing Issues across ASEAN

November 28-December 1: 34th International Conference on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

November 30-December 1: 2017 Business Mission to the 17th ASEAN Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers Meeting

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

MAS Releases Industry Transformation Map for Financial Services Industry
As part of the Government of Singapore’s (GOS) ongoing Industry Transformation Programme, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) released on October 30 an industry transformation map (ITM) for financial services.  The Industry Transformation Programme takes a targeted approach to economic restructuring efforts by seeking to deepen engagement between the GOS, firms, industry stakeholders, and trade associations.  For the financial services industry, the ITM aims to position Singapore as a leading global financial center by encouraging innovation and the adoption of technologies that increase efficiency, reduce costs, and create opportunities.  In terms of metrics, real value-added growth of 4.3% and productivity growth of 2.4% are among the objectives of the ITM, as is the creation of 3,000 net jobs in the sector with an additional 1,000 net jobs focusing on fintech.  From a broader business strategy perspective, the ITM is meant to position Singapore as a “leading international wealth management hub,” an “Asian hub for fund management and domiciliation,” and a “global forex price discovery and liquidity centre in the Asian time zone.”  GOS also envisions the ITM for the financial services sector as a means to contribute to and help further the development of the financial services industry in the region.  It aims to do this by cementing Singapore as an “Asian centre for capital raising and enterprise financing,” a “full service Asian infrastructure financing hub,” a “leading centre for Asian fixed income,” and a “global capital for Asian insurance and risk transfer.”  The full ITM for the financial services sector can be found here.

MAS to Expand Use of Blockchain to Cross-border Payments Amid Industry Transformation Map’s Focus on Fintech
Expanding the use of blockchain, including to cross-border transactions, is one of the most notable fintech development initiatives under the financial services Industry Transformation Map.  Blockchain allows for the digital verification and securing of blocks of information through a distributed ledger, which can be shared among users.  MAS’s goal is to expand the successful implementation of Project Ubin, a proof-of-concept pilot project that examined the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) for inter-bank payments, into a cross-border payments system.  A blockchain-based system could significantly reduce settlement time for cross-border transactions, leading to savings from lower settlement risk and collateral needs.  Just recently on October 25, MAS announced that it planned to partner with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to work on “trade finance cross-border infrastructure” utilizing blockchain.  If successfully implemented, the technology could reduce the risks of invoice financing fraud and greatly increase transaction efficiency. 

Along with experimenting with the broader use of blockchain, MAS plans to mandate further cybersecurity requirements given the risks associated with banks moving their operations into the digital space.  "The use of technology is not going to take off if we have not successfully addressed the cybersecurity problem, and assured ourselves and Singaporeans that cyber risks are reasonably well mitigated,” said Menon. "MAS has been raising the level of expected standards for cyber risk-management. We want to do some things through regulation, in terms of setting requirements for cyber."

Amendments to the Sale of Food Act Tightens Health and Nutrition Claims on Food Labels
The Singapore Parliament passed on November 7 amendments to the Sale of Food Act (SOFA), which tightens regulations on labelling and advertising of food, including infant formula milk.  Essentially, SOFA will require that a defendant prove the veracity of a food advertisement or label, whereas previously prosecutors had to show that advertisements or labels are untrue.  According to Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development, Dr. Koh Poh Koon, the Singapore Government wants to ensure that parents are not, “unduly swayed into paying more for certain products due to aggressive or potentially misleading marketing.”  Dr. Koh also chairs the taskforce that was formed following the Competition Commission of Singapore’s findings that there were significant barriers of entry to the market for infant formula milk, barriers that had pushed up prices for infant formula milk to some of the highest levels in the world.  Prices have dropped since the taskforce’s creation in May as supermarkets have expanded the number of brands of infant formula milk that they carry.  Under the new amendments, if a company wants to include a new health claim on a food label, it will have to submit an application with scientific evidence backing the claim to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA).  Dr. Koh said that further clarification on what types of health and nutrition claims can be included on infant formula milk labels will be announced by the end of this year.  

In terms of food safety, the amended SOFA expands the AVA's authority to initiate food recalls more rapidly and to license non-retail food businesses.  Under the amended SOFA, the AVA can initiate food recalls even when contamination is only just suspected.  This expanded authority means the AVA can initiate a recall without having to confirm the source and nature of the food contamination.  Given the financial and reputational repercussions of food recalls for food companies, the amended SOFA includes an appeal and compensation mechanism in the case that the AVA mistakenly initiates a recall.  The amended SOFA also gives the AVA the ability to license non-retail food businesses to help protect the public health.  Such businesses include warehouses, distributors, and wholesalers.  Those non-retail food businesses storing high-risk items, such as infant formula milk, or food that requires a temperature controlled environment will likely be targeted in the first round of licensing.  Dr. Koh stated that licensing fees would correlate to the size of the non-retail food business but be capped at S$600 (US$441).  The amendments to the SOFA can be found here, while the 2002 revised version of the act can be found here.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 
  • On October 26, the Council and the ASEAN Centre for Energy (ACE) organized a roundtable entitled "20% in 2020 - Unlocking ASEAN's Energy Efficiency Potential" at the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) 2017.  Roundtable participants included Dr Ir Saleh Abdurahman, Secretary General of the National Energy Council of Indonesia; YBhg. Datin Badriyah Hj. Abd. Malek, Deputy Secretary General (Energy & Green Technology) at the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology & Water (KeTTHA) of Malaysia; Mr. Kwek Chin Hin, Head of the Industrial Energy Efficiency National Environmental Agency (NEA) of Singapore, and Mr. Pongphat Munkkunk, Director of Human Resource Development Bureau at the Department of Alternative Energy Development and Efficiency in the Ministry of Energy of Thailand.  The panel also included Ir Dr Sanjayan Velautham, Executive Director at the ASEAN Centre for Energy, and representatives from General Electric, UL, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and the Institution of Engineers Singapore (IES).  General Electric and UL also sponsored the roundtable.  More information on the roundtable, including presentations made by the panelists, can be found here.
  • In response to the call for input issued by the Personal Data Protection Commission of Singapore, BSA | The Software Alliance and the Council submitted joint comments on the proposed amendments to the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA). In addition, BSA and the Council met with the Commission to discuss technical aspects of the amendments on November 2. Notes will be made available after the meeting. If you have any questions regarding this meeting, please contact Shay Wester at swester@usasean.org.
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
National Affairs
Who will be the next prime minister is talk of the town in Singapore
Continuity for Singapore regardless of who is PM: Chan Chun Sing

Defense & Security
Singapore to push anti-terror efforts as Asean defence chair
Singapore, Thailand to step up maritime cooperation and counter-terrorism efforts
Littoral combat ship USS Coronado departs Singapore after 14-month deployment
Singapore-Thailand Defense Relations in the Spotlight With Ng Visit
Singapore Holds Maritime Security Exercise Amid Terror Fears

Economics
Chart of the Day: Overall unemployment rate dipped to 2.1% in September
Singapore business expectations up for next six months; services show signs of strengthening
Rosier outlook for Singapore economy

Energy
Singapore wants to tax firms for carbon emissions
‘No evidence’ carbon tax drives companies away
New National Energy Transformation Office to coordinate energy efforts

Financial Services
Singapore’s Central Bank Chief Has a Warning for Fintech Investors
Singapore plays fintech evangelist on global mission
MAS to tighten cybersecurity, loosen sandbox rules
MAS consults on liquidity risk management framework for Singapore fund managers
Singapore, China to collaborate on capital markets development
Hong Kong and Singapore agree to cooperate on fintech
Singapore: Regulator names first ever Chief Cyber Security Officer
Initial Coin Offerings—A Singapore Perspective
Singapore Looks to Create Thousands of Finance, Insurance Jobs
Singapore mulls putting ICOs in regulatory sandbox

Food & Agriculture
Laws on sale of food amended, rule changes on infant formula milk labels to be announced by end of the year
3 land parcels for food-fish farming in Lim Chu Kang up for tender
Singapore frets as Malaysia courts Chinese market for durian
New food farming federation to tackle manpower, productivity challenges
Vegetable farm land tender closes with 28 bids
Singapore farmers band together to boost sector

Health & Life Sciences
Singapore Transforms into Pharma and Medtech Hub
Adults here not keen on getting vaccinated
Legal age for smoking to be gradually raised from 18 to 21

ICT
Digital news consumption in Singapore on the rise; remains most-read English paper: Nielsen survey
Industry digital plan lends Singapore logistics SMEs a hand
Growth road map for infocomm media sector set to create 16,000 jobs, build AI capabilities
MAS names chief cyber security officer
77% of Singapore firms have suffered from cyberattacks

Infrastructure
Singapore opens new, high-tech airport terminal

Manufacturing
Factory activity powers to eight-year peak in October
Zero growth adds to dismay of motorcycle dealers
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
National Affairs

Who will be the next prime minister is talk of the town in Singapore South China Morning Post 4th Nov 2017
For several hours last Monday, the digital coffee shop conversations of Singaporeans were animated by news that a member of the government had put up his hand to say he was willing and able to be prime minister. Chan Chun Sing, a 48-year-old minister, was quoted by Reuters as saying he was “prepared to become next PM if called upon”. The report on Chan’s remarks at the Foreign Correspondents Association lunch was immediately refuted by the government, which accused the wire agency of publishing a “fabricated” headline. Although Chan was responding to a direct question about his own desire for the top job, his answer referred to all members of the government needing to be prepared for the role. The next day Reuters amended its headline to say “Singapore minister says he, and his colleagues, all prepared to become next PM if called upon”. The headline brouhaha has since subsided. But it underlines both how curious Singaporeans and observers are to know who will take over as the next prime minister, as well as how anxious the government is to keep the succession question open until a binding decision is made on the matter.

Continuity for Singapore regardless of who is PM: Chan Chun Sing Channel NewsAsia 30th Oct 2017
There will be continuity in Singapore no matter who the prime minister is, as the country is run by a team of leaders, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing on Monday (Oct 30). "In Singapore, you are not going to expect, if person A becomes the Prime Minister versus person B, that the direction is going to be so diametrically opposite as to cause a huge discontinuity or disruption," he said at a dialogue with foreign correspondents based in Singapore. "In fact, whatever policies that we have in place now are thought through by the team, carried by the team, owned by the team." Mr Chan, 48, is one of a few Cabinet ministers, including Education Minister Ong Ye Kung and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who have been tipped as future prime ministerial candidates.

Defense & Security

Singapore to push anti-terror efforts as Asean defence chair The Straits Times 25th Oct 2017
Singapore assumed the chairmanship of the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) yesterday, with the focus on three "thrusts", chief among them pushing regional efforts to combat emerging threats from violent extremism. Apart from fighting terrorism, Singapore will also focus on growing the collective capability of Asean countries to deal with chemical, nuclear and radiation attacks in the region, as well as on "confidence-building measures" which would "build understanding, if not trust".

Singapore, Thailand to step up maritime cooperation and counter-terrorism efforts Channel NewsAsia 6th Nov 2017
Singapore and Thailand has vowed to work together in areas of mutual interest such as maritime security, counter-terrorism and cybersecurity, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said in a news release on Monday (Nov 6). This comes during Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen's three-day working visit to Thailand, where he called on Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha on Monday afternoon.  "Both sides reiterated the close bilateral relationship, and how both countries could work together in areas of mutual interest, such as maritime security, counter-terrorism and cybersecurity," MINDEF said.

Littoral combat ship USS Coronado departs Singapore after 14-month deployment Stars and Stripes 6th Nov 2017
The Navy’s only overseas littoral combat ship is heading home after a 14-month rotational deployment to Southeast Asia. The San Diego-based USS Coronado departed Singapore Saturday after participating in 11 exercises and conducting 10 port visits in the region, a Navy statement said. The Coronado — the third LCS to conduct a rotational deployment to Southeast Asia — used Singapore’s Changi Naval Base as a maintenance and logistics hub.

Singapore-Thailand Defense Relations in the Spotlight With Ng Visit The Diplomat 6th Nov 2017
This week, Singapore’s Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen is in Thailand for a three-day working visit. Ng’s trip has put the Singapore-Thailand defense relationship in the spotlight from a bilateral as well as a broader regional perspective.

Singapore Holds Maritime Security Exercise Amid Terror Fears The Diplomat 31st Oct 2017
Last week, Singapore staged another iteration of a complex, interagency maritime security exercise. The exercise, which was observed by top defense officials, is yet another sign of the city-state’s determination to boost its readiness amid the rising terror threat in the wider region.

Economics

Chart of the Day: Overall unemployment rate dipped to 2.1% in September Singapore Business Review 6th Nov 2017
The rate for citizens declined to 3.2%. This chart from the Ministry of Manpower (MoM) shows the overall unemployment rate in Singapore dipped from 2.2% in June to 2.1% in September. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged amongst residents at 3.1%. It declined for citizens from 3.3% to 3.2%, for the second consecutive quarter. An estimated 71,900 residents were unemployed, higher than 70,800 in June. It declined for citizens, from 63,800 to 62,600. 

Singapore business expectations up for next six months; services show signs of strengthening The Business Times 31st Oct 2017
BOTH the services and the manufacturing sectors in Singapore showed signs of further strengthening as more firms expect improved business conditions in the six months ending March 2018, based on figures from the Economic Development Board and the Department of Statistics (Singstat). The services sector, in particular, showed a significant leap in business optimism with more expecting business conditions to improve compared to those who foresee a deterioration, resulting in an overall net weighted balance of 9 per cent of businesses which see an improved outlook between October 2017 and March 2018, compared with the period of April to September 2017. This is higher than the 5 per cent registered a quarter ago. The manufacturing sector also turned a notch more positive, with an overall net weighted balance of 5 per cent which expect an improvement, up from 4 per cent previously. The majority of firms in both sectors, however, expect the business situation to remain similar to a quarter ago.

Rosier outlook for Singapore economy The Straits Times 28th Oct 2017
Singapore's economic recovery is gathering pace due in part to a sustained increase in global electronics demand, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said. While pockets of weakness remain in some sectors, growth is broadening beyond trade-related industries, with economic expansion expected to remain steady in the coming year, the central bank noted in its latest macroeconomic review out yesterday. Official forecasts tip economic growth of 2 per cent to 3 per cent this year. The final figure is expected to come in at the upper half of this range, before moderating slightly next year, MAS said.

Energy

Singapore wants to tax firms for carbon emissions Singapore Business Review 31st Oct 2017
The Singapore government plans to implement a carbon tax of between $10 and $20 per tonne of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 2019, through the proposed Carbon Pricing Bill. According to the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR), the carbon tax will be applied upstream on large emitters, such as power stations and other large industrial facilities that directly emit GHGs. Currently, the public consultations for the policy are open until 8 December 2017. The carbon tax will take the form of a fixed-price credits-based (FPCB) mechanism. 

‘No evidence’ carbon tax drives companies away TODAYonline 25th Oct 2017
Despite concerns repeatedly voiced that a carbon tax could dent competitiveness, there is no evidence it has led any company to move out of a country, said a panellist at a Singapore International Energy Week discussion on Wednesday (Oct 25). Forty-seven countries and states today have some form of carbon pricing, such as a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme. Prices range from US$1 to US$140 per tonne of emissions, noted World Bank senior carbon finance specialist Wang Xueman. Asked at a panel discussion on carbon tax if Singapore’s decision to impose a carbon tax from 2019 – announced earlier this year – could hurt its competitiveness, Ms Wang said: “Currently, if you look at all the evidence, the industry does not move away because there is carbon pricing. They move away because of many other… considerations.” Singapore is looking to charge large emitters such as power stations between S$10 and S$20 per tonne of greenhouse gases emitted. If passed on to households, electricity prices could increase by 0.43 to 0.86 cents per kilowatt hour, a fraction of current tariff rates -- although observers cautioned there should not be a disproportionate impact on the poor.

New National Energy Transformation Office to coordinate energy efforts TODAYonline 25th Oct 2017
A new National Energy Transformation Office has been set up to plan and coordinate energy research and development, as well as policies for the adoption of game-changing energy solutions. The office will look at ways to improve industrial energy efficiency and deployment of solar energy, for instance. It will work with the National Environment Agency, Singapore Economic Development Board, Land Transport Authority and Building and Construction Authority, among other agencies. Heading the office is Mr Toh Wee Khiang, who was the programme director for a low-carbon district project at the Energy Research Institute at Nanyang Technological University (ERI@N). He was previously in the public service for 20 years.

Financial Services

Singapore’s Central Bank Chief Has a Warning for Fintech Investors Bloomberg.com 6th Nov 2017
Be selective. That’s the message Monetary Authority of Singapore Managing Director Ravi Menon has for pundits and investors trying to navigate the wave of technology euphoria sweeping the financial services industry. While technological innovations such as blockchain and the area of big data analytics can result in powerful applications, people should be wary of some peer-to-peer lending platforms and the rapidly rising values of cryptocurrencies, Menon said in an interview with Bloomberg News late last month. Menon speaks from a unique vantage point, as head of a central bank that has positioned itself as a champion of fintech, to help bolster Singapore’s status as a global financial hub. The regulator organizes the city’s FinTech Festival, a glitzy networking event that next week will link banking executives with startups and feature speeches from Menon and former Citigroup Inc. chief Vikram Pandit. While voicing some caution on the skyrocketing value of bitcoin, Menon is a proponent of the cryptocurrency’s underlying distributed-ledger technology, which is protected by “powerful” encryption, and could have some "transformational" real-world applications, he said. The MAS has set aside about $165 million for a five-year plan to nurture fintech and is spearheading Project Ubin, a blockchain-based project to facilitate cross-border payments.

Singapore plays fintech evangelist on global mission The Business Times 6th Nov 2017
IN TWO short years, Singapore has zipped into pole position in the fintech space, challenging rivals such as London in drawing intellectual and funding capital into the city-state with its open adoption of new technology and more broadly, innovation. The strategy, led by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), is now widening to a regional and global endeavour, as MAS expands into cross-border projects that could pay significant digital dividends in time. This will chiefly include blockchain experiments, with MAS now looking at ways to expand an inter-bank payments pilot to create a cross-border payments system between two countries, Ravi Menon, managing director of MAS, said in a wide-ranging interview with The Business Times.

MAS to tighten cybersecurity, loosen sandbox rules The Business Times 6th Nov 2017
THE Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) plans to set further requirements in cybersecurity, with its managing director Ravi Menon pointing to cybersecurity risks posed by banks going digital. "The use of technology is not going to take off if we have not successfully addressed the cybersecurity problem, and assured ourselves and Singaporeans that cyber risks are reasonably well mitigated. Amid the hive of activity, MAS is adjusting itself as a regulator of startups, and doesn't shy away from change. As an example, Mr Menon noted that the approval process for fintechs to join the regulatory sandbox - a ringfencing concept so startups and corporates can test ideas in a limited environment - has been slow. "We have quite a few in the pipeline. We are taking a while longer to evaluate them. One would have hoped we could have approved sandbox applications in weeks rather than months. But, we are learning ourselves - we're in the sandbox, too," said Mr Menon. MAS has received more than 30 sandbox applications, with more than 80 per cent of the applications submitted by fintech startups. The sandbox applications cut across various asset classes such as insurance, remittance, and financial advisory.

MAS consults on liquidity risk management framework for Singapore fund managers Lexology 6th Nov 2017
On 26 October 2017, the Monetary Authority of Singapore ("MAS") issued a consultation paper, proposing to introduce a liquidity risk management framework for Singapore fund managers with respect to collective investment schemes ("CIS") that they manage ("Consultation Paper"). MAS proposes to: (a) issue a new set of guidelines implementing the proposed liquidity risk management framework ("LRM Guidelines"); and (b) impose additional portfolio requirements for money market funds ("MMF").

Singapore, China to collaborate on capital markets development Singapore Business Review 6th Nov 2017
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) agreed to collaborate on the development of their capital market policies during the second MAS-CSRC Supervisory Roundtable. According to a press release, MAS and CSRC agreed on initiatives to support the listing of qualifying Chinese companies in Singapore and explore possible mutual recognition of collective investment schemes. The two countries also agreed to develop a staff exchange programme between the two authorities. MAS and CSRC discussed regulatory developments in the derivatives markets and their respective frameworks for supervising fund managers. Representatives from the financial industries in Singapore and China were invited to the meeting to share their experiences and insights into possible capital markets collaboration initiatives between both countries.

Hong Kong and Singapore agree to cooperate on fintech Out-law 2nd Nov 2017
Innovative financial technology (fintech) businesses in Hong Kong or Singapore are set to benefit from a new cooperation agreement that will help them expand their operations into the other jurisdiction.

Singapore: Regulator names first ever Chief Cyber Security Officer Asia Insurance Review 2nd Nov 2017
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has appointed a Chief Cyber Security Officer (CCSO), a new position that will play an important role in strengthening the cyber resiliency of MAS and the financial sector. Mr Tan Yeow Seng, who is presently Executive Director (Technology Risk and Payments Department) at MAS, will concurrently hold the CCSO appointment. His responsibilities will include setting cyber resiliency standards and overseeing their implementation, said the regulator in a statement last week. According to Mr Tan's LinkedIn profile, he has worked at the MAS since 1998.

Initial Coin Offerings—A Singapore Perspective Lexology 1st Nov 2017
As interest continues to grow in virtual currencies, blockchain technology, and initial coin offerings (“ICOs”), governments are evaluating the benefits and potential risks of these innovations, while considering numerous regulatory issues. Recent announcements by the Monetary Authority of Singapore go some way toward clarifying its position relative to a digital token’s possible designation as a security, the obligations of issuers and intermediaries, and the responsibilities required of trading platforms.

Singapore Looks to Create Thousands of Finance, Insurance Jobs Insurance Journal 31st Oct 2017
Singapore wants to bolster its status as a wealth management and foreign-exchange center as part of plans to create more financial-sector jobs and mitigate the effect of rapid changes in technology. In a plan unveiled Monday, the Monetary Authority of Singapore said it aims to create 4,000 net new jobs in financial services and financial technology, and achieve real growth in the sector of 4.3 percent annually, faster than the overall economy. “With technology transforming the way financial services are produced, delivered, and consumed, it is critical that Singapore’s financial sector also transforms, to stay relevant and competitive,” the MAS said in a statement.

Singapore mulls putting ICOs in regulatory sandbox The Business Times 27th Oct 2017
Singapore regulators are open to having initial coin offerings (ICOs) sold through a regulatory sandbox, said a senior officer from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) at a fintech event this week. If they follow through on this, MAS may be among the first few regulators in the world to take this approach amid the frenzy whipped up by this new form of crowdfunding tied to virtual currencies.

Food & Agriculture

Laws on sale of food amended, rule changes on infant formula milk labels to be announced by end of the year TODAYonline 7th Nov 2017
Stricter rules on labelling and advertising of food, including formula milk for babies, were passed in Parliament on Tuesday (Nov 7) together with provisions allowing the authorities to act more quickly on food recalls. Amendments to the Sale of Food Act (Sofa) will mean tighter regulations on health and nutrition claims, to enable consumers to make more informed choices. Regulatory changes on health claims and images on infant formula milk labels will be announced by the end of the year, said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development Koh Poh Koon.

3 land parcels for food-fish farming in Lim Chu Kang up for tender SGSME 31st Oct 2017
Three land parcels for food-fish farming in Lim Chu Kang were put on sale by public tender on Tuesday (Oct 31) by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA). Food-fish farming is the farming of fish for human consumption. The tender means that farmers will not have to worry about engaging in a price war to secure land. Instead, their proposals will be judged on factors such as production capability, track record, relevant experience and qualifications, and whether they can harness innovation to improve and sustain production, and keep their businesses viable.

Singapore frets as Malaysia courts Chinese market for durian South China Morning Post 28th Oct 2017
The time is ripe for Malaysian durian growers to enter the Chinese market – but that’s an unpalatable development for Thailand and Singapore It is the “king of fruits”, yet it rules over a deeply divided court. It is an aphrodisiac with an offensive odour, a pungent, ugly and thorn-covered delicacy that tastes so sweet to some, yet smells so foul to others. It teases discerning palates with a flavour that is at once savoury, sweet and creamy, yet torments olfactory organs with an scent likened to turpentine, rotting flesh and gym socks. True to its divisive reputation, the durian is now kicking up a stink between the agricultural sectors of Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand – and China’s caught in the middle.

New food farming federation to tackle manpower, productivity challenges Channel News Asia 27th Oct 2017
A food farming federation was formed on Wednesday (Oct 25) to address key challenges faced by the industry brought about by resource constraints and the current push for productivity.  Started by several members of the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority's (AVA) food farming industry consultation panel, the Singapore Agro-food Enterprises Federation aims to promote the sector and is the first industry-wide initiative to bring farmers together on a single platform, said Mr Frank Tan, founding member of the federation and managing director of Marine Life Aquaculture. Mr Tan said the new body’s immediate priorities include developing safety standards and guidelines for sustainable farming practices. It will also work on raising productivity, as well as building farming and manpower capabilities.

Vegetable farm land tender closes with 28 bids Channel NewsAsia 27th Oct 2017
A total of 28 bids were submitted for 12 land parcels to be used for vegetable farming in Lim Chu Kang, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said on Thursday (Oct 26). The land parcels are the first to be tendered out for agriculture in more than 20 years. The 12 plots with 20-year leases were put up for public tender in August. Nine are located at Neo Tiew Harvest Lane, two at Neo Tiew Harvest Link and one at Neo Tiew Harvest Place. A fixed-price tender method was used, with bidders competing on the basis of their tender proposals, while land prices are fixed.

Singapore farmers band together to boost sector The Straits Times 27th Oct 2017
Farmers are banding together to improve the small but important agriculture sector here. Twenty farms from the livestock, food fish and vegetable sectors have come together to form a farming federation, the Singapore Agro-Food Enterprises Federation (Safef). Members include egg farm Seng Choon Farm, Rong-Yao Fisheries and vegetable farm Sustenir Agriculture (Singapore).

Health & Life Sciences

Singapore Transforms into Pharma and Medtech Hub Pharma Logistics 26th Oct 2017
Singapore is undergoing a significant infrastructure upgrade as its regional and international reach gains prestige. Research and consulting firm, GlobalData estimates Singapore’s pharmaceutical market at $948 million and increasing to $1.2 billion by 2021. With an estimated population of just shy of 6 million, Singapore’s domestic pharmaceutical market is small. However, its regional and international reach is well noted thanks to its pro-business environment and strong government support.

Adults here not keen on getting vaccinated The Straits Times 25th Oct 2017
Adult vaccination rates in Singapore are dismal and doctors say this is largely because people still believe that they are only needed by children or those going overseas. "People tend to think of vaccinations as something for kids, but there are vaccinations that people should be getting regularly," said Adjunct Associate Professor Lim Poh Lian. Prof Lim is deputy clinical director of the Communicable Disease Centre at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. Last Saturday, the Health Ministry (MOH) announced that it had drawn up a list of seven vaccines that most Singaporeans should take at some point in their adult lives.

Legal age for smoking to be gradually raised from 18 to 21 Channel NewsAsia 7th Nov 2017
The Minimum Legal Age (MLA) for the purchase, use, possession, sale and supply of tobacco products will be increased from 18 to 21, said Parliamentary Secretary for Health Amrin Amin on Tuesday (Nov 7). With the amendment to the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Bill, the minimum legal age will be progressively raised over a period of three years to minimise impact on smokers currently between the ages of 18 and 21. “We plan to raise the MLA to 19 on 1st January 2019, 20 on 1st January 2020 and finally to 21 on 1st January 2021,” said Mr Amrin. “Quitting is a journey and it will take time for smokers to successfully quit. The phased implementation recognises this.” He explained that the minimum legal age was being raised for two main reasons - adolescent brains being especially vulnerable to nicotine addiction, and Singaporean data showing that more needs to be done to discourage smoking among the young. However, noting that the Bill will prohibit the possession, purchase and use of tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, he asked whether any detailed research or study has been done on the potential of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products as a means to help smokers to quit smoking as a "step-down" from traditional smoking. He cited studies that show that using such "reduced risk" tobacco products did not translate into regular use, addressing possible fears that such products could act as a gateway to traditional smoking.

ICT

Digital news consumption in Singapore on the rise; remains most-read English paper: Nielsen survey The Straits Times 2nd Nov 2017
The Straits Times has retained top spot as the most-read English title here, with a combined print and digital readership reach of 28.8 per cent on an average daily basis. According to the latest Nielsen report on Singapore media released on Thursday (Nov 2), The Straits Times' print edition was read by 17.9 per cent of adults, while its digital version had 14.7 per cent readership.

Industry digital plan lends Singapore logistics SMEs a hand The Straits Times 1st Nov 2017
Small- and medium-sized logistics businesses will find opportunities to take part in projects that could benefit the entire industry through a newly revealed Industry Digital Plan (IDP), the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said on Wednesday (Nov 1).

Growth road map for infocomm media sector set to create 16,000 jobs, build AI capabilities The Straits Times 1st Nov 2017
A new road map plotting the growth of the infocomm media (ICM) industry is expected to create 16,000 jobs by 2020.

MAS names chief cyber security officer The Straits Times 27th Oct 2017
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has created a new position in senior management which will play an important role in strengthening the cyber resiliency of the central bank and the financial sector. Mr Tan Yeow Seng was named chief cyber security officer. His responsibilities will include setting cyber resiliency standards and overseeing their implementation. Mr Tan will hold this appointment concurrently with his role as executive director (technology risk and payments department).

77% of Singapore firms have suffered from cyberattacks Singapore Business Review 29th Oct 2017
About 77% of Singapore firms have indicated that they have detected one or more cyberattack incidents in the last twelve months, PwC’s Global State of Information Security Survey (GSISS) revealed. Despite this, about 39% of Singapore companies said they are not prepared for cyberattacks, noting that they do not have an overall information security strategy. The figure is higher than Asia's 41%. Meanwhile, 59% percent of the survey respondents in Singapore cited compromise of sensitive data as the biggest consequence of a cyberattack, followed by the disruption of operations, cited by 45%, and harm to product quality, cited by 40%. Despite this knowledge, 36% said they do not have an employee security awareness training programme and 44% don’t have an incident-response process. Only 25% in Singapore are very confident in their attribution capabilities, lower than the global figure of 39%.

Infrastructure

Singapore opens new, high-tech airport terminal PHYS.org 2nd Nov 2017
Terminal 4, built at a cost of Sg$985 million (US$723 million), will have an annual capacity of 16 million people and is aimed at coping with an expected increase in passenger numbers through one of Asia's top travel hubs.

Manufacturing

Factory activity powers to eight-year peak in October The Straits Times 3rd Nov 2017
Factories kept humming in October, with manufacturing activity rising for the 14th straight month to hit an eight-year high. The sector - which makes up a fifth of the economy and has been the star performer this year - is still going strong on the back of broad expansion across most segments, economists said. That strength was evident in data released yesterday. The purchasing managers' index (PMI) - an early indicator of manufacturing activity - came in at 52.6 last month, up from 52 in September. It was the highest reading since December 2009. A reading of 50 and above indicates expansion. DBS senior economist Irvin Seah said the continued uptick in PMI "confirms that the rally in manufacturing continues unabated". The Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management, which compiles the PMI from a monthly poll of purchasing executives at about 150 industrial firms, said the numbers showed broad-based expansion across sectors. Manufacturing employment also recorded its second straight month of growth, according to this survey.

Zero growth adds to dismay of motorcycle dealers TODAYonline 25th Oct 2017
Motorcycle dealers held an emergency meeting on Wednesday night (Oct 25) to discuss their response to the Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) announcement on Monday that there would be zero growth for motorcycles from February next year. Already reeling from recent policies that have resulted in motorcycles becoming costlier and scarcer, the latest news – that the vehicle growth rate for cars and motorcycles would be cut from the current 0.25 per cent to zero – marked another step back for the industry. It will also lead at least one food delivery company to depend more on bicycles going forward. “This is bad news for the industry at a time when the motorbike population is already facing a steady decline,” lamented Mr Norman Lee, honorary secretary of the Singapore Motor Cycle Trade Association. In February this year, a tax called the Additional Registration Fee (ARF) was raised for motorbikes with Open Market Value exceeding S$5,000. From 15 per cent of the ARF, the rate was raised to 50 or 100 per cent of the ARF. From next year, motorcycles larger than 200CC will have to comply with more stringent Euro 4 emissions standards here. The smaller motorbikes will follow suit by 2020.