Singapore FinTech Festival to have ASEAN, AI focus this year Channel NewsAsia 2nd May 2018
This year's edition of the Singapore FinTech Festival will have a focus on Southeast Asia, given the country's chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and artificial intelligence (AI), the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said. In a press release, the central bank said there will be two new elements in this year's festival: The ASEAN FinTech Showcase, which will highlight financial technology developments and opportunities in the region and a showcase of innovations from the 10 regional countries.There will also be the Artificial Intelligence in Finance Summit, which will explore emerging AI solutions in trading, investment management, customer service and risk management, said the MAS, which is partnering with The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) to organise the event.
Singapore hopes to develop consensus on an overall approach to Asean's challenges: PM Lee Hsien Loong The Straits Times 27th Apr 2018
Singapore does not expect all regional issues to be resolved during its chairmanship of Asean, but it hopes to develop consensus on an overall approach to them, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.He was addressing leaders and delegates from the regional grouping's 10 member states at a working dinner at the Istana on Friday (April 27), as part of the 32nd Asean summit. PM Lee said Singapore hopes to work with its Asean partners to tackle shared concerns, including growing transboundary threats such as terrorism, climate change and cyber security.
26 cities to pilot ASEAN Smart Cities Network Channel NewsAsia 27th Apr 2018
Twenty-six cities from the 10 ASEAN countries have been named pilot cities for the ASEAN Smart Cities Network, according to a concept note released by the regional bloc on Friday (Apr 27). The concept note, released as leaders from the 10 countries meet in Singapore this week for the 32nd ASEAN Summit, outlines the proposal to establish the ASEAN Smart Cities Network. An initiative spearheaded by Singapore, the network is envisioned as a collaborative platform where up to three cities per ASEAN country work towards a common goal of smart and sustainable urban development. Cities include Singapore, Johor Bahru, Phuket, Yangon, Phnom Penh and Vientiane.
Opinion | Singapore’s prime minister: Nobody wants a trade war Washington Post 18th Apr 2018
Trade friction between China and the United States has been brewing for some time. But with the Trump administration’s announcement of unilateral tariffs on imports, targeted at China, the specter of a trade war has never been clearer. There is broad political support in the United States for such measures. American businesses that had previously advocated China’s accession to the World Trade Organization now feel disadvantaged doing business in China. They feel, with some justification, that the playing field is uneven, market access is limited and investments are restricted, especially in the financial and technology sectors. Trade arrangements and concessions made in the past when China was about 5 percent of the world’s gross domestic product are less readily accepted today with China’s share rising to 15 percent. But unilateral tariffs are not the correct solution. A trade war between the United States and China is far from inevitable, but if one breaks out, it will gravely undermine the rules-based multilateral system that has underpinned global prosperity since the end of World War II. Countries around the world, big and small, will be hurt.
The Big Read: Singapore’s political succession goes beyond finding the next Prime Minister Channel NewsAsia 2nd May 2018
Unlike his predecessors, Singapore's next Prime Minister, who will be the country's fourth since independence, will have a shorter runway — a point made on several occasions by PM Lee himself. Political analysts and observers — including past and present People's Action Party (PAP) Members of Parliament who had a ringside seat to the previous leadership transition when Mr Goh Chok Tong handed over the baton to PM Lee — believe the succession blueprint this time could be different from the beaten path where a minister helms key portfolios such as defence, finance, and trade and industry for several years to get a better feel of the important issues, before ascending to the top post. For this round, the focus appears to be on something different — in part due to the compressed timeline but also in recognition of the growing policy complexities: Building the breadth and depth of the fourth-generation leadership team, and honing its collective competencies.
Ministry of Trade and Industry among portfolios to see largest shake-up TODAYonline 27th Apr 2018
The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) will see a significant number of leadership changes in the latest Cabinet reshuffle. From May, labour chief Chan Chun Sing will take over the reins, with Mr Lim Hng Kiang and Mr S Iswaran stepping down from their ministerial roles while still being involved with the ministry. Mr Lim is stepping down from the Cabinet but will be appointed Special Advisor to the ministry, where he has served as minister since 2004. As Special Advisor, the 64-year-old will advise the ministry on strategies to grow Singapore's capabilities and international economic space.
Singapore Cabinet reshuffle: 4G leaders now helming two-thirds of ministries The Business Times 27th Apr 2018
PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong has announced the biggest shake-up of his Cabinet in recent years, involving all ministries but one. The fourth-generation ministers came firmly to the fore, with nearly two-thirds - or 10 - of the ministries now to be helmed by them.This is up from eight previously. Three veteran ministers with a collective experience of 66 years on the front bench will be retiring. They are: Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang, 64, Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say, 63, and Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim, 62.
Commentary: With the Cabinet reshuffle, the race for Singapore’s next Prime Minister has narrowed Channel NewsAsia 27th Apr 2018
With the Cabinet reshuffle announced on Tuesday (Apr 24), the race to become Singapore’s next Prime Minister has been further narrowed, with Mr Chan Chun Sing and Mr Heng Swee Keat leading the pack. Slated to take on leadership positions at the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and Public Service Division while retaining his role as deputy chairman of the People’s Association, Mr Chan will be assuming new, important positions that will grant him invaluable exposure to economic policy and allow him to foster close ties with the public administration.
Who is SMRT’s incoming chief Neo Kian Hong? TODAYonline 27th Apr 2018
Former chief of defence force (CDF) Neo Kian Hong, who is currently permanent secretary for defence development, will helm SMRT as group chief executive officer from Aug 1. The 54-year-old will take over from Mr Desmond Kuek, who is stepping down from his post after nearly six years, the embattled rail operator announced on Wednesday (April 18). A Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) overseas scholar, Mr Neo enlisted in the SAF in 1983, and spent three decades scaling the military ladder. The electrical and electronic engineering graduate from King’s College London held various leadership posts throughout his years in the military, including chief of Army, commander of the Army Training and Doctrine Command, and commander of the 9th Singapore Division.
In full: PMO announces changes to the Cabinet and other political appointments TODAYonline 27th Apr 2018
Several 4G leaders have been given new responsibilities, according to a statement from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on Tuesday (April 24) announcing a widely-expected Cabinet reshuffle. Three current Cabinet ministers will retire but stay on as Members of Parliament. The changes will take effect from May 1. This is the PMO's statement in full.
Diplomat 'cannot recognise' the Singapore painted by Kirsten Han in The New York Times TODAYonline 27th Apr 2018
Singapore's ambassador to the United States rebutted a New York Times opinion piece by freelance journalist Kirsten Han, saying she portrayed Singapore as an "authoritarian paradise, where critics of the government are squelched and drug traffickers are hanged". Mr Ashok Kumar Mirpuri said that he could not recognise the country Ms Han described in her March 29 article, titled "What Trump is Learning from Singapore – and Vice Versa". Ms Han wrote that US President Donald Trump and the Singapore Government are seemingly drawing lessons from each other on two issues.
Cabinet reshuffle: S. Iswaran is new Minister for Communications and Information The Straits Times 24th Apr 2018
As Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry), Mr S. Iswaran launched the "Passion Made Possible" brand last year to promote Singapore for tourism and business purposes. Now, he may soon be mulling on ways to promote the Republic and its policies to Singaporeans as the new Minister for Communications and Information (MCI) from May 1. Mr Iswaran, 55, is taking over from Dr Yaacob Ibrahim - who is retiring from Cabinet - but will continue serving in the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) as Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations.
Three veteran ministers stepping down to make way for younger colleagues: report Yahoo! News 14th Apr 2018
Defense & Security
Citing MPs and political analysts, ST said Trade Minister Lim Hng Kiang, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say and Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim may step down from the front bench in an upcoming Cabinet reshuffle. This means they would continue to be Members of Parliament but would not hold Cabinet positions. The ministers expected to be leaving the Cabinet are all in their 60s. Lim Hng Kiang is 64 years old, Lim Swee Say is 63, and Yaacob is 62. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had earlier announced in February that he would reshuffle the Cabinet before Parliament reconvenes in May, in order to give younger ministers more exposure and responsibility. Younger ministers Heng Swee Keat, Chan Chun Sing and Ong Ye Kung may be given charge of new portfolios that would plug gaps in their experience, ST’s sources said. Amid questions over leadership renewal in Singapore, media and political observers have said Heng, Ong and Chan are contenders to be the next prime minister.
ASEAN Cybersecurity in the Spotlight Under Singapore’s Chairmanship The Diplomat 2nd May 2018
While there were a whole range of security issues discussed at the 32nd ASEAN Summit held in Singapore over the weekend, one area that got significant emphasis was the cyber domain. The focus on cybersecurity reflects both the growing regional and international attention to the issue as well as the city-state’s ongoing efforts to boost bilateral and regional collaboration on this front, especially as the holder of the annually rotating ASEAN chairmanship this year.
Singapore’s ASEAN Chairmanship: What’s on the Security Agenda? The Diplomat 2nd May 2018
On April 16, Singapore’s defense minister addressed a security forum in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. Though his remarks touched on Asian security issues more broadly, they also included references to key items that the city-state is looking to advance during its chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that bear careful watching. As I have been noting in these pages, though Singapore is no stranger to taking a leadership role in advancing security issues among Southeast Asian states, there has been additional spotlight on the city-state as this year’s holder of the ASEAN chair. Though meetings will continue to take place throughout the year, the next key event will be the 32nd ASEAN Summit set to take place at the end of this month.
Army Exercise Puts US-Singapore Defense Relations Into Focus The Diplomat 2nd May 2018
Last week, the United States and Singapore concluded this year’s iteration of a key army exercise. The drills, which lasted from April 16 to April 24, were yet another illustration of the longstanding defense ties between the two sides and the importance of these interactions for the strengthening of the city-state’s defense capabilities given its own space constraints at home.
Amid heightened threats, 1 in 10 Bills passed related to security and defence TODAYonline 27th Apr 2018
It has been a busy first half of the 13th Parliament: Since the session opened in January 2016, the House has passed a total of 108 Bills on areas ranging from security challenges and the criminal justice system to the environment, among other things.The figure was more than a fifth higher than the 89 Bills passed in the first half of the 12th Parliament, and a shade lower than the 111 Bills passed by the 11th Parliament before it took a mid-term break. Political observers said the quantity and range of Bills passed in the first half of the Government’s current term reflected the increasingly complex society and policy landscape, as well as the global threat of terror. For instance, almost one in 10 of the Bills were related to national security and defence.
Singapore and US Army conclude Exercise Lightning Strike, held in Washington The Straits Times 25th Apr 2018
More than 280 military personnel from Singapore and the United States took part in Exercise Lightning Strike, which was held at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington from April 16 to 24. As part of the annual exercise, both sides trained together to strengthen interoperability in urban operations. "The exercise culminated with an integrated battalion assault on an urban objective, with soldiers conducting Close Quarter Battle utilising specialised urban operations equipment," said the Ministry of Defence in a statement on Wednesday (April 25).
Asean must step up to tackle security threats like terrorism, chemical weapons: Ng Eng Hen The Straits Times 16th Apr 2018
Countries in the region must continue to work together to deal with pressing threats such as terrorism and chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) weapons, Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Monday (April 16). He was speaking at the 5th Putrajaya Forum in Malaysia, alongside Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, Indonesian Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu and Philippine Undersecretary for Defence Policy Ricardo David Jr. The forum is held in conjunction with the annual Defence Services Asia Exhibition and Conference (DSA). "Asean will have to step up to address the security challenges in our region (because) it is to our intimate interest to do so," Dr Ng said in a speech.
S'pore's economy grew 4.3% in first quarter, advance estimates show TODAYonline 27th Apr 2018
The Republic's economy grew more than expected in the first three months of 2018 from the previous quarter on an annualised basis, on the back of continued growth in the manufacturing sector, preliminary data showed on Friday (April 13). Gross domestic product in the first quarter grew 4.3 per cent from a year earlier, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said on Friday, citing advance estimates. The economy expanded 1.4 per cent in the January-March period on an annualised and seasonally adjusted basis. Singapore's first quarter economic growth matched forecasts in a Reuters poll. In the fourth quarter of 2017, Singapore's economy grew 3.6 per cent from the year earlier.
S’pore needs to relook foreign labour while maintaining productivity thrust: Heng Swee Keat TODAYonline 27th Apr 2018
The Republic needs to review its foreign manpower policy in the coming years, but the inflow of foreign workers must remain "well-calibrated" to encourage firms to continue improving productivity, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat. "We need to maintain that calibration in order to send a very strong signal that productivity improvement is going to be key, and investing in automation, a better way of doing things, is going to be the key to our future. We should not make changes too hastily… Because if I can get workers cheaply, why should I invest in machines," said Mr Heng in an interview with the local media at the Treasury building on Wednesday (April 18).
S'pore's economic growth on track despite US-China trade tensions: MAS report TODAYonline 27th Apr 2018
The outlook for the Republic's economy this year "remains positive" and will continue to be largely supported by growth from trade-related sectors and modern services, said the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in its bi-annual Macroeconomic Review report released on Friday (April 27). The central bank noted in the 117-page report the rise of "digital activities" which will increasingly become an "important growth engine" in modern services, as firms invest in digitalisation efforts which create positive spillovers to industries such as the information & communications technology (ICT) and professional services.
Singapore's non-oil exports in March fall unexpectedly TODAYonline 27th Apr 2018
The Republic's non-oil domestic exports unexpectedly fell from a year earlier in March as electronics shipments declined for the fourth-consecutive month, official data showed on Tuesday (April 17). Exports fell 2.7 per cent in March from a year earlier, data from Enterprise Singapore showed, a slower decline than the revised 6.0 contraction the month before. This was worse than the 0.2 per cent increase predicted by economists in a Reuters poll. Electronics exports fell again in March at 7.1 per cent year-on-year, however, improving from the 12.7 per cent contraction in the month earlier.
Singapore, amid signs of solid growth, tightens monetary policy for first time in 6 years TODAYonline 27th Apr 2018
The central bank has tightened monetary policy and signalled that it would seek an appreciation in the Singapore dollar, amid solid economic growth prospects and signs of improvement in the labour market. The move by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), which uses the exchange rate as its main policy tool, came as advance estimates on Friday (April 13) showed that the Republic’s economy grew more than expected in the first quarter of the year. Going forward, experts say Singapore’s growth momentum should continue to sustain in a steady pace, led by trade-related industries. Weaker segments like construction and domestic-oriented services should also “improve”.
PUB eyeing two more reservoirs to harness solar power The Straits Times 1st May 2018
With little space to accommodate sprawling solar fields, Singapore is looking into installing solar panels on its water spaces. Engineering studies for solar systems are being carried out at Tengeh and Upper Peirce reservoirs, and now national water agency PUB is looking at adding them to two more reservoirs here to power its energy-intensive water treatment processes in a greener way. Yesterday, it called a tender for engineering studies to be carried out at Bedok and Lower Seletar reservoirs to facilitate the deployment of floating solar photovoltaic systems there.
S'pore shipbuilder Keppel Corp to deliver South-east Asia's first LNG-powered tugboat TODAYonline 27th Apr 2018
Singapore-based Keppel Corp said on Wednesday (April 25) that its offshore rig-building unit is on track to deliver in May what the shipbuilder said will be the first tugboat in South-east Asia that can run on liquefied natural gas (LNG). The vessel will be one of seven dual-fuel vessels the company is building, and will be able to run on LNG and diesel, a spokesman for Keppel said, without disclosing how much the ship cost to build. A second dual-fuel LNG tug is due to be delivered by June or July, he said. The introduction of the vessels comes as Singapore's Maritime and Port Authority pushes ahead with an LNG bunkering pilot programme, designed to support the building of LNG-fuelled vessels.
Clean, affordable energy a challenge for Singapore The Straits Times 21st Apr 2018
Singapore fully supports the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, but achieving the goal of affordable and clean energy will be a challenge because it does not produce green energy alternatives, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Thursday. Even then, Singapore is among the 20 most carbon-efficient countries in the world. It is also committed to addressing climate change, which has a tremendous impact on the country's sustainable development efforts, he added when addressing a meeting of 53 Commonwealth heads of government.
Don't delay using technology to generate green energy The Straits Times 14th Apr 2018
As fossil fuels are a finite resource, Singapore needs to actively look for alternative energy sources that could contribute to our power grid both now and in the future. It is encouraging to read about the efforts put into the development of solar power as a form of renewable energy ('Energy islands' to harness sunlight; April 6). There have been calls for an outright and worldwide ban on fossil fuels. But this is not likely to happen, so we need to mitigate the effects of burning fossil fuels. One easy solution that has been put forth is to capture the carbon from the stacks of fossil fuel power plants. This is not widely implemented currently because the subsequent storage of the captured carbon dioxide is not only expensive but also difficult and risky.
Singapore launches the "Fintech Fast Track" for new patents Business Insider 2nd May 2018
The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) has announced the launch of a new initiative, dubbed the Fintech Fast Track initiative, which aims to grant patents for fintech innovations at a faster pace than before. While it can traditionally take up to 2 years for a patent to be granted, this new initiative will bring that down to 6 months for new fintech solutions. The initiative includes fintech innovations related to electronic payments, investment platforms, insurance technology, blockchain, banking, security, fraud, and authentication, among others.
MAS sets standards for accountability of financial managers Singapore Business Review 2nd May 2018
It launched a public consultation for 3 guidelines that FIs should follow. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) created three guidelines for holding senior managers accountable in financial institutions (FIs). According to an announcement, they are not designed to be prescriptive. “It is ultimately the responsibility of each FI to hold its senior managers accountable for their actions and ensure proper conduct amongst their employees,” MAS said. MAS is seeking feedback on the guidelines until 25 May 2018.
E-payment platform UNPay launched in Singapore Singapore Business Review 2nd May 2018
The platform, which has been tapped by Alibaba and Baidu, previously raised US$63m from initial funding. UNPay launched in Singapore after establishing local teams in countries such as Indonesia, New Zealand, Europe, and China. Founded in the fourth quarter of 2017, UNPay provides one single application programming interface (API) and a simplified accounting dashboard for merchants. It has served companies in the technology and financial industries such as Alibaba, Baidu, JD, and NETS. UNPay uses artificial intelligence to detect and prevent transactional fraud in real time, thus minimising the risk of transactional losses, and offering merchants peace of mind to focus on their businesses.
Singapore and Vietnam tie up for fintech cooperation Singapore Business Review 2nd May 2018
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV) formed a new partnership to encourage FinTech innovation and to strengthen cooperation in banking supervision. According to an announcement, the new memorandum of understanding (MOU) between MAS and SBV on financial innovation will facilitate joint innovation projects between the two countries, help FinTech companies in one jurisdiction better understand the regulatory regime and opportunities in the other, and encourage the sharing of information on emerging FinTech trends and developments.
Singapore money supply grew by 3.1% in March Singapore Business Review 2nd May 2018
Its net foreign position weighed on the growth of both public and private credit. Singapore’s money supply (M3), including Asian currency units, grew by +3.1% YoY in March, softer than the +5.8% rise in the month before. RHB Research noted that the stronger growth of both public and private credit – at 4.4% and 3.4% YoY respectively – was not enough to offset the slower growth in net foreign position from 6.3% YoY to 2.8% YoY. Meanwhile, government deposits recorded a smaller rate of contraction for the month at -16%. Meanwhile, loans have stayed on an upward trend. Bank lending in Singapore rose 5.4% YoY in March as sustained demand for home and corporate loans kept credit levels stable.
Singtel, Razer in e-payment tie-up to unify cashless payments in South-east Asia The Straits Times 2nd May 2018
Telco Singtel and gaming product firm Razer are coming together in a tie-up that both firms hope will create the largest e-payment network in South-east Asia. They plan to link their respective e-payment systems to create an interoperable network that allows credits from one system to be accepted in another. Singtel’s Dash e-wallet has more than 500,000 users here, while Razer said it will launch its RazerPay e-wallet later this year. The RazerPay launch will come on the back of the tie-up with Singtel and Razer’s earlier acquisition move on e-payment firm MOL Global that is expected to conclude on May 10.
MAS to require central clearing of OTC derivatives from Oct 1 The Business Times 2nd May 2018
THE Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will require over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives to be cleared on central counterparties (CCPs) with effect from Oct 1 this year, in a bid to make trading of such derivatives in Singapore safer. The mandatory clearing requirement will apply to Singapore-dollar and US-dollar fixed-floating interest rate swaps as these are the most widely traded interest rate derivatives in Singapore, said MAS. Central clearing mitigates counterparty credit risks as the CCP takes on that risk between parties to a transaction. In addition, banks whose gross notional outstanding OTC derivatives exceed S$20 billion will be required to clear their trades through MAS-regulated CCPs. These banks account for over 90 per cent of OTC derivatives contracts in terms of outstanding notional amount in Singapore.
Singapore to cut length of fintech patent applications to six months Singapore Business Review 27th Apr 2018
Food & Agriculture
The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) launched a fintech Fast Track initiative which provides an expedited patent application-to-grant process for fintech inventions. “Under this initiative, fintech patents can be expected to be granted in as quickly as six months, compared to at least two years for normal applications,” it said. According to an announcement, a supporting document tagged as “Fast Track” document stating that the application is related to fintech has to be furnished when submitting the request for search and examination report form. In order to be eligible for a patent, an application must be first filed in Singapore and contain 20 or fewer claims. The request for the grant of patent and request for search and examination report forms have to be filed on the same day. The applicant also needs to respond within two weeks from the date of receipt of formalities examination adverse report and within two months from the date of receipt of written opinion. IPOS said the initiative will complement the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) $225m Financial Sector Technology and Innovation (FSTI) funding scheme.
Singapore launches B2B app and digital system for F&B companies Singapore Business Review 2nd May 2018
Enterprise Singapore introduced SMF SMART App and Restaurant 3.0 for food and beverage (F&B) companies at Food & Hotel Asia (FHA) 2018 “to capture new overseas opportunities and improve operational efficiencies.” According to an announcement, SMF SMART App was launched along with Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF). It is a B2B online platform which facilitates the consolidation of online orders for overseas buyers and provides features such as traceability and authentication of products. Users were able to scan the barcode of physical products at the FHA and access the SMF Digital Marketplace.
Strengthening agriculture to safeguard Asean’s rice bowl TODAYonline 27th Apr 2018
Hidden within greenhouses atop the building of a research institute within the National University of Singapore (NUS) is a cutting edge invention which seeks to be an answer to the region’s food security woes. Scientists from the Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory recently developed a special type of rice which has been bred to be resistant to certain types of bacteria and fungi, as well as withstand adverse weather conditions. Known as Temasek Rice, this new “super crop” is one of the latest in a slew of research and development projects in Singapore aimed at boosting food security in the country. Such innovations are vital, given that land-scarce Singapore only grows 10 per cent of its food, which has made it heavily dependent on neighbouring countries for food supplies.
Initiative to drive innovation in food sector The Straits Times 27th Apr 2018
A new government initiative to help local food companies adapt to industry disruptions will tap the expertise of larger corporations, food science experts and industry associations. FoodInnovate will be led by Enterprise Singapore and involve other government agencies, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who launched it yesterday. Mr Heng said that companies may often see the need to innovate, but be hampered by "high cost, limited access to food technologies and expertise, as well as regulatory hurdles".
Shared facility helps local food firms extend products' shelf-life The Straits Times 17th Apr 2018
Local food manufacturers can now extend the shelf-life of products using an advanced technology known as high-pressure processing (HPP) without having to fork out huge sums to buy their own equipment. The new HPP resource-sharing facility that officially opened yesterday allows firms to improve their capabilities in developing quality food products and better tap global market opportunities. The initiative was set up by Enterprise Singapore, Warehouse Logistics Net Asia and Singapore Polytechnic's Food Innovation Resource Centre
New government strategy will drive food innovation The Straits Times 26th Apr 2018
Health & Life Sciences
A new government strategy to drive food innovation and help local firms adapt to industry disruptions will be launched in Singapore, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced on Thursday (April 26).The initiative, called FoodInnovate, will be led by Enterprise Singapore and involve other government agencies such as the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority. It also plans to tap the expertise of food companies, food science experts and industry associations.Through its four-pronged strategy, companies will be equipped with food science insight and market knowledge, and also gain access to the physical infrastructure needed to adopt new technologies, Mr Heng said.The new initiative will also build a base for agri-food start-ups in Singapore, ensure that government regulations support innovation, and create platforms for the "cross-pollination" of ideas in the industry.
Singapore on track to expand home and day care spaces for elders Singapore Business Review 2nd May 2018
More than 3,000 home and day care spaces should be up and running in the next two years if the government continues making progress towards its goal of expanding the care facilities for elderlies in Singapore. In 2017, minister of State for Health Dr. Lam Pin Min announced their goal to expand the number of local home care spaces to 10,000 and day care places to 6,200 by 2020 as part of the agency’s efforts to support caregivers in looking after the senior citizens. This was reiterated by senior minister of State for Health Dr. Amy Khor during her speech at the Caregiver Symposium last month.
Value of Singapore's pharma market hit $1.22b in 2017 Singapore Business Review 2nd May 2018
Singapore's pharmaceutical market could be valued $1.22b, experiencing a 5.6% increase from the previous year, BMI Research revealed. According to a report, the country will remain "a highly attractive manufacturing base" for international pharmaceutical companies due to minimal levels of operational risks and the government's support for the industry. BMI's Operation Risk Index gave Singapore's operational risk environment a score of 82.2 out of 100, higher than the regional average of 53.6. "We expect ongoing efforts to strengthen the already positive business environment to ensure that the republic remains an attractive investment destination over the coming years. The pharmaceutical industry has been a key pillar of the country's economy and we believe its importance will continue to grow as traditional drivers such as electronic manufacturing slow,” it added.
Pharma sector taps into generic medicine market to curb higher expenses Singapore Business Review 2nd May 2018
In 2017, Singapore's pharmaceutical market was valued at $1.22b (US$880m). Due to changing demographics that is leaning towards an ageing population, BMI Research expects that by 2022, pharmaceutical spending will hit $1.62b (US$1.31b), experiencing a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.8% (8.1% in USD). However, it noted that rising pharmaceutical expenses will place increasing pressure on both public and private health funding regimes and healthcare costs will remain a key concern for patients as the country ages. "Cost efficiency has been a long-held value of the Singapore public healthcare system and this has extended into controlling the funds spent on pharmaceuticals. Amongst the various tools, the use of generic drugs has become an effective strategy to reduce expenditure without compromising the quality of care," the firm added.
Singapore, home to strict drug laws, looks to develop synthetic marijuana compounds CNBC 30th Apr 2018
Singapore, known for some of the world's most stringent drug laws, aims to develop medical treatments containing synthetic elements of the cannabis, or marijuana, plant. The government-run National Research Foundation, a body in charge of national research and development, launched a program earlier this year to unlock the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids — chemical compounds of the cannabis plant. It's part of the organization's broader $25 million initiative to promote the biotech industry in the Southeast Asian nation. The program does not focus on the plant's psychoactive compound — tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — that's responsible for marijuana's psychological effects. Cannabis plants contain more than a hundred other cannabinoids, including cannabidiol, or CBD, which isn't thought to get people high.
Singaporeans lack 80% of critical illness protection needs: Life Insurance Association TODAYonline 27th Apr 2018
In times of critical illness, economically active Singaporeans and permanent residents are only covered for a year of their expenses – or 20 per cent of what is needed should they be out of the workforce for five years. The average employed person here has about S$60,000 worth of critical illness coverage, but requires about five times the amount to ensure their families are well taken care of, according to the Life Insurance Association (LIA)’s 2017 Protection Gap Study. The study, conducted by Ernst & Young Advisory, used public Government data of economically active individuals with at least one dependent. As of the end of 2016, there were about two million such adults in Singapore.
2 patients in Singapore infected with similar strain of listeria as Australia outbreak TODAYonline 27th Apr 2018
Two people in Singapore were infected with a strain of listeria similar to the one found in a patient in Australia that is tied to rockmelons, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement on Monday (April 16). One of the patients has recovered from the infection while the other died “for reasons not due to the listeria infection”. When asked by TODAY for more details about the patient who died, the MOH said it was unable to provide more details "due to patient confidentiality".
Singapore forges partnerships at the world’s largest industrial technology trade show in Germany OpenGovAsia 1st May 2018
Enterprise Singapore is leading a delegation of 39 companies on business mission to Germany and to participate in the Singapore Pavilion at Hannover Messe. Enterprise Singapore (ESG), formed through the merger of International Enterprise Singapore and SPRING Singapore, is dedicated to helping Singapore companies build capabilities, innovate and internationalise. According to latest press release, ESG is leading a business delegation to Germany to support Singapore companies in capturing new markets, innovations and partnerships. ESG and the Singapore Precision Engineering and Technology Association (SPETA), in partnership with the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), are currently leading a delegation of 39 Singapore companies to Germany on business missions and to participate in the first-ever Singapore Pavilion at the world’s leading industrial technology trade show Hannover Messe.
Data privacy watchdog proposes tougher regulations against unsolicited commercial messages TODAYonline 27th Apr 2018
In a bid to better protect consumers from unsolicited telemarketing and spam messages, the Republic’s data privacy watchdog is proposing new regulations that would ban the use of “harvesting” software used to compile large recipient lists, while requiring companies to act more quickly to stop sending unsolicited marketing messages. The proposed changes, which follow similar approaches in places like Hong Kong and United Kingdom, are also aimed at reducing the ambiguity for companies when sending commercial messages, the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) said on Friday (April 27).The proposals are up for public consultation until June 7, and revisions to the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) are expected to be tabled in Parliament by next year.
19 Singapore firms to feature at world's largest industrial tech show The Straits Times 23rd Apr 2018
Nineteen local companies will be flying the Singapore flag at the world's largest industrial technology trade show in Hannover, Germany, from April 23 to 27. These firms will be showcasing their advanced manufacturing products and services under the first Singapore Pavilion at the Hannover Messe fair, where they will get the opportunity to rub shoulders and learn best practices from top names in the business. Each edition of the Hannover Messe attracts over 6,500 exhibitors and 250,000 visitors.
Tech initiative to help boost port navigational safety The Straits Times 17th Apr 2018
With the port of Singapore a busy one where a ship arrives or leaves every two to three minutes, new technologies are being developed to improve congestion forecasts and minimise collisions. The goal is to enhance navigational safety through technologies that can, for instance, predict and issue early warnings on the risk of collision. The technologies will also improve traffic forecasts through the analysis of long-term data, potentially easing congestion in high-volume areas.
Singapore Airport May Use Facial Recognition Systems to Find Late Passengers US News 1st May 2018
Ever been delayed on a flight because of straggling fellow passengers? That might be an annoyance of the past at Singapore's Changi airport which is testing facial recognition systems that could, in future, help locate lost travelers or those spending a little too much time in the duty-free shops. Changi Airport, ranked the world's best for six years straight in a survey by air travel consultancy Skytrax, is looking at how it can use the latest technologies to solve many problems - from cutting taxiing times on the runway to quicker predictions of flight arrivals. It comes as the island state embarks on a 'smart nation' initiative to utilize technology to improve lives, create economic opportunity and build community ties. However the proposed use of cameras mounted on lampposts that are linked to facial recognition software has raised privacy concerns.
Singapore proposes update to drone regulations Aerospace Technology 1st May 2018
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) has revealed its intention to enhance the country’s existing regulations for unmanned aircraft (UA) or drones. With the enhanced UA operating guidelines, CAAS primarily aims to fulfil five goals. The first involves additional guidance to address the importance of understanding UA characteristics, especially limitations offered by drone manufacturers. Additional guidance is also expected to enable users to modify their UAs in order to ensure the airworthiness of their vehicles. Secondly, updated regulations expect to make it mandatory for drone pilots to undergo an online training programme to ensure they can fly their vehicles safely.
Technology training for elderly in Singapore’s ‘smart nation’ push The Nation 30th Apr 2018
From courses on social media and how to spot fake news to digital services specifically for seniors, more organisations are taking steps to ensure that older people can also ride on the technological wave In the past six months, firms and grassroots organisations have rolled out workshops and classes targeted at the elderly in Singapore For instance, OCBC Bank held a workshop in Radin Mas last month for 35 seniors to learn about mobile banking, online security and cashless payments This month, it has conducted similar workshops and set up a booth to help some 200 seniors in the same area Grassroots organisation People's Association launched a four-month programme in November that helps seniors to be smart nation ready
34 tech companies sign ‘Cybersecurity Tech Accord’ BusinessMirror 23rd Apr 2018
The new paper, signed by 34 tech companies, is akin to a “digital Geneva Convention” to govern the rules of engagement in technology. Here are the big takeaways: Signatories to the accord will not, among other things, “help governments launch cyberattacks against innocent citizens and enterprises.” The accord comes amid a wave of new attempts by governments to compel tech companies to decrypt communicattions. One week ago a group of 34 technology companies signed the “Cybersecurity Tech Accord,” a document that declares that the signatories will protect all of their customers from threats and will not “help governments launch cyberattacks against innocent citizens and enterprises from anywhere.” The signatories include Microsoft and Facebook, Dell, VMware, HP and HP Enterprise, Cisco, Avast, CloudFlare, F-Secure, Symantec, Trend Micro, BT, Juniper Networks and Telefonica, among others. Notably missing from the list of signatories is Google, which is currently facing an internal revolt over their collaboration with the US Department of Defense on the use of AI to analyze drone footage. Likewise, Apple and Amazon are also conspicuously missing from the list. The accord, available at www.cybertechaccord.org/accord/, has four key components: ■ We will protect all of our users and customers everywhere. ■ We will oppose cyber attacks on innocent citizens and enterprises from anywhere. ■ We will help empower users, customers and developers to strengthen cybersecurity protection ■ We will partner with each other and with like-minded groups to enhance cybersecurity. According to a report in The New York Times, the accord was spearheaded by Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith. For years, Smith has been calling for a “digital Geneva Convention” to mirror the rules of engagement in technology, in the same way that the Geneva Convention sets standards for conduct in war. In a blog post about the accord, Smith stated that “the success of this alliance is not just about signing a pledge, it’s about execution. That’s why today is just an initial step, and tomorrow we start the important work of growing our alliance and taking effective action together.”
Collaboration to leverage AI and analytics for vessel traffic management in Singapore port OpenGovAsia 19th Apr 2018
A*STAR’s Institute of High Performance Computing, the Singapore Management University and Fujitsu are collaborating to develop these innovative new technologies, with the support of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore. The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)’s Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC), the Singapore Management University (SMU) and Fujitsu Limited (Fujitsu) announced their collaboration to develop innovative new technologies for vessel traffic management in the Port of Singapore, with the support of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA). These new predictive technologies will leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analytics and they will be validated using real-world data to improve the forecasting of congestion and potential collisions before they occur at sea, and identification of risk hotspots.
‘Smart’ lampposts in Singapore to trial facial recognition technology BT 19th Apr 2018
Singapore is planning to trial facial recognition cameras on more than 90,000 lampposts in the island state as a way to monitor “crowd analytics” and support anti-terror operations. The country is already working on technology to make its lampposts “smart” by filling them with a range of sensors to monitor light, weather conditions and noise pollution levels – as well as able to connect with autonomous vehicles when they arrive on its roads. Singapore’s official agency in charge of the platform, GovTech, told Australia’s ABC that it would trial facial recognition software in the lamppost cameras that could be used in follow-up investigations after a terror incident.
High-tech job portal to ensure better match The Straits Times 18th Apr 2018
A high-tech national job portal was launched yesterday to better match local job seekers with employers. It can prioritise search results according to the relevance of a job seeker's skills, and filter results to show, among other features, jobs which come under government schemes that support training. The portal, MyCareersFuture.sg, was developed by Workforce Singapore (WSG) and the Government Technology Agency. It replaces the interface of the existing Jobs Bank for users, and WSG said it aims to roll out the function for employers to post jobs by the end of this year.
Singapore to play a key role in Asia's infrastructure development The Business Times 2nd May 2018
WITH a current population of over 4.5 billion and investment in infrastructure needs of over US$600 billion in the coming decade, Asia is an attractive investment destination for global and regional infrastructure players. Given the strong correlation among GDP growth rate, employment generation and investment in infrastructure, it is imperative for governments to remove any hurdles in the delivery of world-class infrastructure services. In Asia, Singapore is a shining example of a country that has delivered on world-class infrastructure. It is renowned for its airport, ports, road network, housing, sanitation, and info-communications infrastructure. According to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index for 2017-2018, Singapore holds the second spot globally in the robustness of its infrastructure.
MPA awards S$1.46b deal for Phase 2 of mega Tuas Terminal TODAYonline 27th Apr 2018
More than three years after work on the first phase of the mega Tuas Terminal began, the authorities have awarded a billion-dollar reclamation project for the next phase to a joint venture made up of contractors from Japan, South Korea and the Netherlands. A consortium comprising Japan’s Penta-Ocean Construction Company, South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering & Construction Company and the Netherlands-based Boskalis International has bagged the S$1.46 billion project, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) announced on Wednesday (April 25). Works on the first phase, which began in February 2015, were awarded to a joint venture comprising Belgium’s Dredging International Asia Pacific, and Daelim from South Korea.
Singapore Announces Greater Project Financing Support | Lexology Lexology 23rd Apr 2018
Senior Minister of State Indranee Rajah S.C. stated during the Committee of Supply Debate 2018 that an estimated $26 trillion may be spent on infrastructure projects in Asia. But these projects are unable to obtain financing “due to lack of bankability, usually occasioned by the lack of proper project preparation, project structuring and technical issues.” Singapore is well placed to fill this gap in project financing in Asia. As noted by the senior minister of state, Singapore has numerous commercial banks with project finance teams and project structuring expertise. Some of these banks already are Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs) recognized by IE Singapore’s Internationalization Finance Scheme (IFS). The IFS helps Singapore-based companies expanding abroad to obtain financing by sharing the risk of default between IE Singapore and the PFIs, which provides the financing facility.
Changi Airport Group awards architectural and engineering contracts for Terminal 5 The Straits Times 13th Apr 2018
Changi Airport Group (CAG) has selected the firms that will provide architectural design and engineering consultancy services for the development of Terminal 5 (T5). In a statement on Friday (April 13), it announced that KPF (Singapore), in partnership with Heatherwick Studio and Architects 61, would provide architectural design services. Arup Singapore, Mott MacDonald Singapore and Surbana Jurong Consultants will handle the engineering works; while DP Architects will provide design services for commercial spaces within the terminal.
Smart technologies to enhance Singapore's living environment The Business Times 26th Apr 2018
Singapore's Housing and Development Board (HDB) has accumulated more than 50 years of expertise and experience in planning, designing and building public housing.As the country's largest master planner and housing developer, HDB has to constantly push the frontiers of urban planning, and carry out extensive research and development to build sustainable and smart towns that create a better living environment for residents. In line with Singapore's Smart Nation vision to improve the quality of lives of Singaporeans through the use of digital technology and Big Data, HDB has been leveraging a suite of smart technologies to improve the planning, development and management of public housing.Complex decision-making modelling tools help HDB to select the most cost-effective and optimal initiatives for our towns to achieve sustainability goals. Over the years, HDB has built up its capabilities in urban environment modelling through the development of the Integrated Environmental Modeller (IEM), a modelling platform that integrates the urban planning and design process with environmental simulation.
Precision engineering firms lead optimism in manufacturing sector Singapore Business Review 2nd May 2018
Only 2% of manufacturers have a negative business outlook for April to September 2018, whilst 15% are positive about business in the same time period, the Economic Development Board (EDB) revealed. The majority (83%) are neutral about their business outlook. Overall, a net weighted balance of 13% of manufacturers expects a favourable business situation. Within the manufacturing sector, all clusters anticipate better business prospects in the next six months ending September 2018.
Singapore manufacturing sector expands for 20th straight month in April The Straits Times 2nd May 2018
Manufacturing in Singapore saw its 20th straight month of expansion in April, though the rate of growth has steadied over the last six months, according to figures out on Wednesday (May 2). April's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) was 52.9, marginally down from 53 in March, with a reading of 50 and above indicating expansion. Based on a monthly poll of purchasing executives in over 150 industrial companies, the PMI is a leading indicator of economic activity. Since October 2017, the monthly reading has fluctuated between 52.6 and 53.1.
Singapore's factory output grew 5.9% in March Singapore Business Review 2nd May 2018
Singapore’s industrial production (IP) grew 5.9% YoY in March 2018. Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output grew 8.6% YoY. The electronics cluster continued on an expansionary path for the 25th consecutive month and gained 12.4% YoY in March, mainly supported by the continued growth in the semiconductors (+18.8% YoY), which has been growing at a double-digit pace for the past 25 consecutive months. However, output in infocomms & consumer electronics (-7.7% YoY), other electronic modules & components (-0.5% YoY), and data storage (-19.0% YoY) contracted.
Singapore’s manufacturing growth off to ‘healthy start’ for 2018 TODAYonline 27th Apr 2018
The Republic’s manufacturing growth is off to a “healthy start” this year, economists said after latest figures showed output expanding by 5.9 per cent in March. For the first three months of the year, total manufacturing output expanded by 9.8 per cent from a year ago. Excluding biomedical manufacturing, the January to March period saw output grow by 12.7 per cent, according to the latest manufacturing data released by the Economic Development Board (EDB) on Thursday (April 26). The figures, which are in line with expectations, also prompted the economists to maintain their earlier forecasts for Singapore to grow at 4.3 per cent in the first quarter, and around 3 to 3.1 per cent for the full year.