Singapore Update: July 30, 2018

Singapore Update | July 30, 2018
Authors: Riley Smith and Mianmian Fei
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

July 31: Breakfast Briefing with Singapore Ambassador Ashok Mirpuri

August 3: Planning Call for the Singapore International Cyber Week (SICW) U.S. Private Sector Dialogue Event with ASEAN Ministers

August 15: 2nd Meeting of the Singapore Joint Cyber Security Working Group (Singapore)

August 20-21: 2018 Singapore Business Mission

September 27: U.S. - Singapore Trade Facilitation Workshop

October 29-November 2: Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) 2018

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 
Singapore Becomes Third Country to Ratify CPTPP

On July 19, Singapore ratified the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a revision of the original Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) from which U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States in January 2017 just three days after taking office. The CPTPP members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, which collectively form a combined market of 500 million people with a GDP of $10 trillion. Overall, the combined market of the CPTPP members accounts for 13.5% of the global economy. The CPTTP is an important agreement for Singapore, as the 10 other member countries accounted 22.2% of Singapore’s total goods trade in 2017. Much of the CPTPP is unchanged from the original TPP. The main exception is 22 suspended provisions, approximately half of which deal with intellectual property rights, that can be reinstated if the United States rejoins the agreement.

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing praised the CPTTP as a high-quality agreement that will complement Singapore's existing network of bilateral free trade agreements. He added that, faced with growing concerns over protectionism and fears of a trade war, the CPTPP sends a strong signal of Singapore's commitment to trade liberalization and a rules-based trading system. In particular, Chan mentioned that the agreement will bring benefits to small and medium sized businesses in Singapore because it “promotes innovation, productivity, competitiveness and inclusive trade.” Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong echoed this sentiment. Even though not all ASEAN countries are signatories of CPTPP (only Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam are current signatories, along with Singapore), recent expressions of interest from Indonesia and Thailand in eventually joining the agreement underscores how Singapore’s ratification of the CPTPP also supports one of its key foci for its 2018 ASEAN Chairmanship, namely the deepening of ties between ASEAN and its external partners.

CPTPP negotiations concluded on January 23 in Tokyo, Japan, and the agreement was subsequently signed on March 8 in Santiago, Chile. In April, Mexico became the first member to ratify the agreement, followed by Japan on July 6. Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam are likely to follow suit by the end of the year. The agreement will take effect 60 days after it has been ratified by six of the 11 signatories. This milestone is expected to be passed by as soon as the end of 2018, and likely no later than the first quarter of 2019.

Cyberattack on SingHealth is Largest and Most Serious in Singapore to Date; Government Vows to Press Forward with Smart Nation Initiative

On July 20, Minister for Health Gan Kim and Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran announced that between June 27 and July 4 hackers carried out the largest and most serious cyberattack against Singapore to date, targeting SingHealth, the city-state’s largest healthcare group. Over the course of about a week, the hackers stole the non-medical personal data of 1.5 million people and the outpatient dispensed medicines’ records of 160,000 people. Those affected by the hack include people who visited SingHealth’s outlets from May 1, 2015, to July 4, 2018. According to the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), the hackers specifically and repeatedly targeted Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s. Even though the incident points to the challenges that arise in protecting privacy and personal information in digitally-enabled and -connected public systems, the Government of Singapore has said that it will continue to push forward with its Smart Nation initiative.

The government of Singapore responded promptly following the cyberattack. With the help of the Cyber Security Agency (CSA), the Integrated Health Information System (IHiS), the technology agency for the public healthcare sector, imposed a temporary Internet Surfing Separation (ISS) on SingHealth’s 28,000 work computers the same day of the announcement. The two other public healthcare clusters, National Healthcare Group (NHG) and National University Health System (NUHS), followed suit on July 23. On July 24, Minister Iswaran convened a Committee of Inquiry (COI) to determine the events and contributory factors leading up to the cyberattack. The COI is expected to submit its investigation report by the end of this year. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) also released a press release on the same day, instructing all financial institutions to tighten their customer verification processes, as the personal information stolen, including names, NRIC number, address, gender, race and date of birth, may be used by fraudsters to perform unauthorized financial transactions. Given the growing threat of cyberattacks targeting governments and businesses in Southeast Asia and Singapore’s position as a leader on cyber issues in the region, how the Government responds to the SingHealth data breach, including potentially putting new policies in place to protect against a future cyberattack, could inform how other ASEAN governments respond to similar cyberthreats.

Singapore Food Agency to Replace Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore on April 1, 2019 

On July 26, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) and the Ministry of National Development (MND) jointly announced that a new statutory board called the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) will be formed on April 1, 2019. In the announcement, the MEWR and MND said the new statutory board’s formation is in response to challenges posed by climate change and its effects on the global food landscape. The SFA will sit under the authority of MEWR and bring together the food-related functions of three agencies: the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), the National Environment Agency (NEA), and the Health Science Authority (HSA). A National Center for Food Science will be established under SFA to consolidate the food laboratory capabilities of the three agencies. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of AVA Mr. Lim Kok Thai will be appointed as the CEO of SFA. All non-food plant and animal-related functions of the AVA will be transferred to the National Parks Board (NParks). As part of this transfer, AVA's responsibilities related to maintaining animal welfare and health standards will be transferred to the new Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS), which will sit under NParks. When AVA's responsibilities are transferred to SFA and AVS on April 1, 2019, it will be dissolved. Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said that the formation of SFA will help turn Singapore’s food challenges into strategic advantages by boosting food safety standards and strengthening local food business.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Deadline Extended for Feedback on Singapore's Proposed GST Changes for Imported Services

Singapore's Ministry of Finance (MOF) has granted the Council a deadline extension for the submission of feedback on the draft Goods and Services Tax (GST) (Amendment) Bill 2018. The draft Goods and Services Tax (GST) (Amendment) Bill 2018 levies GST on imported services, including digital services such as streaming movies and music, starting January 1, 2020. In response, the Council has solicited member company input and drafted feedback to submit to MOF. A copy of the draft feedback submission can be found here

The draft Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Act 2018 can be found here. The Comparative Amendments to the GST Act can be found here, and the Draft GST (General) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 can be found here.

We ask that member companies use the specified template, as provided in the public consultation announcement (available here), for all feedback submissions to the Council. If you have any questions or would like to submit feedback on the draft Goods and Services (Amendment) Bill 2018, please email Riley Smith at rsmith@usasean.org before COB Monday, July 30.

2018 Singapore Business Mission Planning Call #1

On July 24, the Singapore Committee held the first planning call for the 2018 Singapore Business Mission, which will take place August 20-21. During the call Ms. Melissa A. Brown, Counselor for Economic and Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Singapore, briefed members on the current state of U.S.-Singapore relations, provided an update on the Government of Singapore's (GOS) economic priorities for 2018, and discussed Singapore's 2018 ASEAN Chairmanship year. Ms. Brown's official bio can be found here

The remainder of the call was dedicated to providing an update on the 2018 Singapore Business Mission. The logistics of the mission were reviewed, along with the proposed themes and the meeting targets. Notes from the call can be found here. More information on the 2018 Singapore Business Mission, including a link to register, can be found here. If you have any questions about the call or the 2018 Singapore Business Mission, please contact Riley Smith (rsmith@usasean.org) and Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org).

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Singapore ratifies Asia-Pacific trade deal for market of 500 million people The Straits Times 19th Jul 2018
Singapore has ratified the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), becoming the third nation to do so after Mexico and Japan. The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said in a statement on Thursday (July 19) that the CPTPP is a high-quality agreement that will reduce market barriers as well as foster trade in a combined market of 500 million people with a gross domestic product of US$10 trillion (S$13 trillion). The historic trade deal establishes rules in new areas, such as e-commerce, and will enter into force 60 days after six of the 11 signatories ratify the agreement.

Malaysia, Singapore to discuss high-speed rail by end July: Azmin Ali Channel NewsAsia 16th Jul 2018
Malaysia will send an official representative to Singapore to discuss the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) project by the end of the month, said Malaysian Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali on Monday (Jul 16).

S'pore poised to aid Asian development: Heng The Straits Times 14th Jul 2018
Singapore is positioned to support the region's development by financing infrastructure and enterprise in Asia, including bringing in private capital, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday. The country's adoption of digital technology can improve transaction efficiency and raise financial inclusion, he added, calling higher access to financial services "a key priority under our Asean chairmanship". But Mr Heng told DBS' Asian Insights Conference that "proper risk management" is also needed in the light of the Asian and global financial crises of the past two decades.

Singapore and Korea to review free trade agreement Singapore Business Review 12th Jul 2018
Their bilateral trade reached $45.4b in 2017. Singapore and Korea inked deals to further advance their bilateral relationship, an announcement revealed. Under a Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) on trade, the two countries have agreed to review the implementation of Korea-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (KSFTA). “The KSFTA is an important cornerstone of our bilateral economic relations and this review will ensure that the agreement continues to remain relevant to the business needs of both Singaporean and Korean companies,” parliamentary secretary for trade and industry and foreign affairs Dr Tan Wu Meng. In 2017, the countries’ bilateral trade in goods reached $45.4b which makes Korea as Singapore’s 9th largest trading partner.

Singapore and China 'natural partners' for Belt and Road: DPM Teo Channel NewsAsia 5th Jul 2018
LANZHOU, Gansu: As globally connected countries, Singapore and China are “natural partners” for the long-term development of the Belt and Road initiative, said Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on Thursday (Jul 5). Referring to China’s ambitious infrastructure project, which aims to recreate the ancient Silk Road through building land and sea links like railways and ports to boost trade, Mr Teo noted several common objectives have driven bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

Amid looming trade war, Singapore pressing on with trade relations: DPM Teo Channel NewsAsia 5th Jul 2018
Singapore hopes countries will be able to resolve their differences speedily and in a way that can bring benefits to everyone, said its Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on Thursday (Jul 5) amid a looming trade war between China and the United States. Speaking to Singapore media at the end of a trip to China, he also stressed that Singapore's position is one that is based on principle and not because it supports one country or another. Mr Teo’s comments come as the Trump administration is expected to slap tariffs on US$34 billion worth of Chinese goods on Friday. Beijing has also said it would reciprocate in kind. “We think that a trade war - tit-for-tat - is not going to help any side,” said Mr Teo.

UN mediation treaty to be signed in and named after Singapore in 2019 Channel NewsAsia 23rd Jul 2018
Three years of negotiations have successfully resulted in the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation. The treaty will be signed in August 2019 in Singapore, and will thus be named the Singapore Convention on Mediation. This is the first treaty under the UN to be named after Singapore. 

National Affairs

S'pore maintains position as Asia's most innovative country The Straits Times 12th Jul 2018
Singapore is the most innovative country in the world outside Europe, according to an index out yesterday. The Global Innovation Index ranked the country fifth - two spots higher than last year - and once again the top in Asia. The overall league table put Switzerland first followed by the Netherlands, Sweden and Britain. The United States, Finland, Denmark, Germany and Ireland rounded off the top 10. South Korea was 12th and Japan 13th in the annual ranking compiled by Cornell University, French business school Insead and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo). They measured countries based on 80 indicators, from intellectual property filing rates and mobile-application creation, to education spending and scientific and technical publications.

S'pore is top maritime centre for fifth year The Straits Times 12th Jul 2018
For the fifth consecutive year, Singapore has clinched the No. 1 spot among the world's top maritime centres in the Xinhua-Baltic International Shipping Centre Development Index. The index rates the relative performance of the world's 43 largest ports and cities annually. Singapore beat four other Asian port cities - Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo and Busan, which are also in the top 10. Hong Kong pipped London for the first time in five years to take second place.

Singapore's water supply will 'never be threatened': DPM Teo The Straits Times 15th Jul 2018
Singaporeans can rest assured that the nation's water supply will remain secure, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean emphasised on Sunday (July 15). Speaking at the 14th Punggol North Racial and Religious Harmony Street Parade, DPM Teo said it is important for Singapore to hold on to values such as self-reliance to build a strong, resilient country.

Customs

Three-quarter tank rule at checkpoints to include vehicles running on diesel TODAYonline 9th Jul 2018
Diesel-powered vehicles registered in Singapore will have to abide by the three-quarter tank rule when going into Malaysia, after amendments to the Customs Act were passed in Parliament on Monday (July 9).

Defense & Security

Singapore-France Defense Cooperation in Focus with Air Force Base Detachment Anniversary The Diplomat 20th Jul 2018
Over the weekend, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong paid an official visit to France. While the agenda for the visit was wide-ranging and saw a series of engagements, including Lee being a guest of honor to attend the Bastille Day parade on July 14, the trip also spotlighted the ongoing defense relationship between France and Singapore in a significant year for ties amid broader regional and global trends. As I have noted previously in these pages, France and Singapore have long had a broad-based relationship that has covered a range of areas including trade, education, and research and was elevated to a strategic partnership back in 2012. On the defense side, one of the key features of he relationship is that France has provided the city-state’s air force with space to train at Cazaux Air Base.

What’s Next for Singapore’s F-16 Fighter Jet Replacement? The Diplomat 20th Jul 2018
On June 29, Singapore’s defense minister said that the city-state would soon make a decision about its plans to replace its current F-16 fighter jets. As I have noted before in these pages, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), one of Asia’s most capable militaries, has been looking at ways to modernize its military within the constraints it has. These include modernizing and upgrading the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), which is commemorating its 50th anniversary this year (See: “Singapore’s Air Force at 50”).

Singapore reveals details about Fleet Management System Shephard Press Limited 20th Jul 2018
Singapore’s Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) revealed the capabilities of its new Fleet Management System (FMS) on the sidelines of the Defence Technology Summit last week. Designed and scripted locally by the DSTA for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), the FMS utilises data analytics to reduce operating costs ...

Economics

Inflation slows, but lower-income group hardest hit by higher cost of living TODAYonline 23rd Jul 2018
SINGAPORE — Inflation in the first six months of the year has slowed compared to the second half of last year, based on data from the Department of Statistics (SingStat) released on Monday (July 23). Nevertheless, the bottom 20 per cent of households have felt the brunt of a higher cost of living, due to increased food, water and electricity prices as well as medical and dental treatment costs.

Sharp slowdown in Singapore's exports raises growth fears Nikkei Asian Review 17th Jul 2018
SINGAPORE (Nikkei Markets) -- Singapore exported far fewer goods than expected in June as global demand for electronics cooled, a fresh sign that business momentum is waning in Southeast Asia's richest country. Shipments to most major markets, including China, declined, prompting some economists to warn of growing downside risks to their growth forecasts.

Trade war could drag Singapore's GDP down to 2.7%: analysts Singapore Business Review 15th Jul 2018
There could be further dampening effects on business and consumer sentiments into 3Q2018. Singapore’s GDP for the second quarter of 2018 disappointed due to lower gains in the manufacturing sector and continued weakness in the construction sector. This has pulled down some analysts’ expectations for the GDP for the whole year.

'Greatest concern' if China-US trade conflict escalates to involve major economies: Chan Chun Sing Channel NewsAsia 9th Jul 2018
The ongoing trade conflict between the United States and China will have global repercussions, but the “greatest concern” for Singapore is if it escalates into a “vicious cycle of tit-for-tat measures between major economies”, said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing on Monday (Jul 9). Mr Chan, responding to parliamentary questions from MP Henry Kwek and NMP K Thanaletchimi, said that if these measures reach a tipping point that triggers a sharp and sustained fall in global business and consumer confidence, or a tightening of global liquidity conditions, the macroeconomic environment will “fundamentally change”. “In this scenario, the impact on global consumption and investment on top of the disruption to trade flows will significantly impact Singapore’s open economy,” the minister said.

Higher ABSD rates for second homes among new cooling measures Channel NewsAsia 5th Jul 2018
SINGAPORE: The Government announced on Thursday (Jul 5) that it is raising Additional Buyer Stamp Duty (ABSD) rates and tightening loan-to-value (LTV) limits on residential property purchases, in an effort to "cool the property market and keep price increases in line with economic fundamentals".

How has the new property cooling measures affect the market? The Edge Singapore 13th Jul 2018
SINGAPORE (July 13): For much of this year, as interest rates firmed, analysts were suggesting that investors switch from real estate investment trusts (REITs) to developers. Now, it appears that developers are being downgraded, following a set of draconian measures to curb property speculation.

Energy

Businesses, home owners can access solar energy directly from power grid under JTC programme The Straits Times 24th Jul 2018
Businesses and some home owners can now directly access solar energy from the national grid for the first time, under a new programme. Under the programme, dubbed SolarRoof, power is harnessed from solar panels on the rooftops of government agency JTC Corporation's buildings, and will allow consumers to purchase this electricity even if the buildings they occupy are not equipped with solar panels. The programme is run by JTC and solar energy retail company Sun Electric.

Booming LNG Market Steps Out of the Dark as Transparency Push Grows Jakarta Globe 14th Jul 2018
Long dominated by deals struck in secret, the $230 billion liquefied natural gas industry is slowly seeing light as global traders push for more transparency in the booming market. Over the past two months, commodity price agency S&P Global Platts and Australia-headquartered LNG trading marketplace Global LNG Exchange (GLX) facilitated the first transparent physical trades in their platforms. It was the first time in nearly a decade since Platts kicked off its Asian LNG derivative price assessment that it disclosed trading parties of a physical trade on its platform.

Wasted Hot Air Points to Cool Opportunity Worth $70 Billion Bloomberg.com 13th Jul 2018
The summertime blast of hot exhaust from air conditioners onto city streets from Soho to Singapore is a global energy efficiency investment opportunity Engie SA sees hitting $70 billion next decade. Massive district cooling projects, which use chilled water from underground facilities to provide cold air to entire city blocks, may be the way forward as governments increasingly want developers to phase out individual AC units, according to Didier Holleaux, the French company’s executive vice president. Penthouses or solar panels could also replace air-conditioners that take up space on the roofs of office buildings, he said.

HDB eyes AI-powered energy system in Tengah Singapore Business Review 11th Jul 2018
A study will be conducted in the town for a year starting July. The Housing & Development Board (HDB) inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with SP Group to study the potential of developing Tengah into a first-of-its-kind Smart Energy Town. According to an announcement, the project involves developing and test-bedding a centralised energy software system, akin to a ‘brain’ that will collect, process, analyse, and learn data on energy consumption at the town, neighbourhood, and apartment-levels. The study, which will enable a more efficient and sustainable model of energy management, will be conducted over a one-year period from July 2018.

HDB eyes development of floating solar panels for open sea Singapore Business Review 9th Jul 2018
It wants to expand on its floating modular system launched in Punggol Waterway in 2011. The Housing & Development Board (HDB) is studying the use of its floating modular system to hold solar panels in open sea conditions, after implementing its invention in Punggol Waterway in 2011 for a floating wetland system. According to an announcement, the modular system has since been deployed for a floating solar system in Tengeh Reservoir in Tuas in May this year. HDB will be signing a research collaboration agreement with ISO Landscape at the upcoming World Cities Summit in July 2018 to cover the development of a Floating Solar System for coastal marine conditions, that can address harsher environmental conditions such as stronger winds and wave action.

Despite more charging points, obstacles abound to keep electric car sales from moving into fast lane TODAYonline 5th Jul 2018
The number of people who own electric vehicles (EVs) — including plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEVs) — jumped last year from 137 to 520. However, these vehicles still form a tiny proportion of automobiles on the road, making up just a mere 0.09 per cent of the 574,443 passenger cars in Singapore. So far, the take-up of EVs here has been slow, considering how the early models of electric cars such as the i-MiEV from Mitsubishi were first introduced as early as 2011. Drivers who are hesitant to buy electric cars said that they have concerns over the lifespan and warranty of the car battery and the availability of charging stations. Electric vehicles also cost about 20 to 30 per cent more on average than the ones running on petrol.

Singapore's offshore industry recovering, but no return to glory days Channel NewsAsia 30th Jul 2018
SINGAPORE: A big drag on Singapore's growth in recent years, the embattled offshore and marine industry has broken a three-year losing streak. Yet industry executives aren't betting on a return to the glory days anytime soon. The industry, along with a top-class finance sector, has been a key pillar of Singapore's economic transformation into a first world economy since independence from British colonial rule in 1965 and a source of national pride. But a 2014 collapse in oil prices has resulted in thousands of jobs lost, several defaults and billions of dollars in debt restructurings. Now, as oil prices pick up, the industry is coming back to life. A 28.3 per cent year-on-year jump in output from the marine and offshore engineering sector in June was the biggest since March 2014.

Financial Services

Singapore to bolster threat intelligence sharing in financial sector ComputerWeekly.com 30th Jul 2018
Singapore’s Cyber Security Agency (CSA) has teamed up with a US-based threat intelligence centre to facilitate sharing of intelligence information and conduct joint cyber security exercises to protect the country’s financial services sector.

Singaporeans ditch bank visits to go mobile Singapore Business Review 25th Jul 2018
Mobile banking usage has now overtaken branch visits by 15%. The use of mobile banking has overtaken physical branch interactions by 15% during the past 12 months, J.D. Power revealed. However, user experience still has a way to go. According to its 2018 Singapore Retail Banking Satisfaction Study, 46% of mobile banking customers experienced a problem with their mobile banking apps, such as long loading times and login problems, which is a higher percentage than the 43% in 2017. Meanwhile, 41% of customers that do not use mobile banking apps cite security and trust as the primary reason, an increase of 7 ppt from last year.

MAS orders banks to tighten customer verification processes following SingHealth cyberattack TODAYonline 24th Jul 2018
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has instructed all financial institutions here to tighten their customer verification processes following the recent cyberattack at SingHealth, where the personal information of 1.5 million individuals were exfiltrated. In a press release on Tuesday (July 24), MAS said that it had directed financial institutions to tighten their customer verification processes “to address any risk that the information stolen from SingHealth may be used by fraudsters to impersonate customers and perform unauthorised financial transactions”.

Singapore banks turn to China's wealthy to offset slumping stock markets Singapore Business Review 23rd Jul 2018
Some banks are looking to establish family offices to serve Chinese entrepreneurs; as a sizeable proportion will look to transfer their wealth to the next generation within the next five to ten years. Singapore wealth management businesses have become stars in their respective banks in 2017 and in the first quarter of 2018. For Q1, the wealth management businesses of UOB, OCBC, and DBS all grew sharply by 30%, 22%, and 17% to $165m, $727m, and $1.36b, respectively. However, the great volatility that has struck global markets is threatening to steal wealth managers’lustre and inevitably affect their banks’ financial health. Notably, wealth management contributed to 31% of OCBC’s income in Q1.

Protecting financial service sector from security threats gets boost from public-private partnership The Straits Times 18th Jul 2018
SINGAPORE - The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) and the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Centre on Wednesday (July 18) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) aimed at advancing intelligence sharing and conducting joint exercises to better protect the financial service sector. The MOU, valid for three years, was signed at the centre's annual Asia-Pacific summit in Singapore where security leaders from across the financial service sector gathered to solve cyber and physical security threats facing Singapore and the region. With the pact, CSA's overview of multiple sectors will provide the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Centre with greater visibility of cyberthreats impacting the country, while the centre will offer a global perspective based on select insights from its 7,000 members, the two groups said in a joint statement.

Singapore to introduce protected cells for collateralised reinsurance Artemis.bm 17th Jul 2018
Singapore has ambitions to become an insurance-linked securities (ILS) domicile for the Asian region or global issuers looking for an alternative, and with a special purpose reinsurance vehicle (SPRV) already regulated for, the addition of protected cell company (PCC) regulation is a natural next step.Speaking at Artemis’ third annual insurance-linked securities (ILS) conference in Singapore last week, ILS Asia 2018, Jacqueline Loh, a Deputy Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), explained that Singapore’s ambitions are to offer a full suite of ILS structuring options to the market, in order to foster market expansion and greater ILS penetration into the Asian region.

7,800 jobs added to fintech and financial services sector in 2016-2017: MAS Singapore Business Review 5th Jul 2018
The number of jobs in Singapore’s fintech and financial services sector grew by 7,800 over 2016 and 2017, which is already close to the target set by the Industry Transformation Map (ITM), Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) managing director Ravi Menon said. “Job growth was mainly driven by the insurance and fund management industries, and to a lesser extent by the banking industry,” Menon said in a speech. IT has emerged as a key functional area driving hiring demand across financial services—some of the fastest growing job roles are in software development, cyber security, data analytics, artificial intelligence, and business process engineering.” Moreover, fintech alone is estimated to have contributed close to 2,000 of the net jobs created during these two years. MAS expects job growth in financial services this year to exceed the ITM target.

Food & Agriculture

New stat board to oversee food safety and security; AVA to be disbanded Channel NewsAsia 26th Jul 2018
SINGAPORE:  A new statutory board, to be called the Singapore Food Agency (SFA), will be formed in April next year under the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) to oversee food safety and security, it was announced on Thursday (26 Jul). The agency will bring together food-related functions currently carried out by three other agencies - the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), said MEWR and the Ministry of National Development (MND) in a joint news release. Formed in response to challenges posed by the global food landscape and climate change, SFA will manage food safety, hygiene regulations and address issues of food supply.

New stat board Singapore Food Agency coming in April 2019; AVA will cease to exist The Business Times 26th Jul 2018
A NEW government agency will be formed on April 1 next year to oversee food safety and security, Singapore authorities announced on Thursday morning. The Singapore Food Agency (SFA), a statutory board, will come under the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (Mewr) and will be taking over food-related work currently being done by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA). The AVA will cease to exist from next April and its animal-related functions, such as animal welfare, will be transferred to the National Parks Board (NParks) under the Ministry of National Development (MND).

Health & Life Sciences

Singapore health system hit by ‘most serious breach of personal data’ in cyberattack; PM Lee's data targeted Channel NewsAsia 20th Jul 2018
The "most serious breach of personal data” in Singapore’s history took place last month, with 1.5 million SingHealth patients’ records accessed and copied while 160,000 of those had their outpatient dispensed medicines’ records taken, according to the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Communications and Information. Among those affected was Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, with the attackers “specifically and repeatedly targeting” his personal particulars and information of his outpatient dispensed medicines, the ministries said in a joint release on Friday (Jul 20). Several other ministers were also affected, including Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong. The personal data taken from the 1.5 million patients include their names, NRIC numbers, address, gender, race and date of birth, the release said, adding that the hackers did not amend or delete the records. Patients’ medical records, including past diagnosis, doctors’ notes and health scans, were not affected.

Here's why Singapore's healthtech landscape looks promising Singapore Business Review 15th Jul 2018
The country's Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 (RIE 2020) allocated $4b for R&D developments from 2016 to 2020. Singapore is home to US$16m worth of healthtech deals in H1 2018, according to healthtech ecosystem-builder Galen Growth Asia revealed. The biggest investment in a healthtech startup in Singapore was the $8.2m financing secured by artificial intelligence-powered startup UCare.ai. Founded in 2016, the firm utilises algorithms for prediction of healthcare patterns in patients.

MOH releases Research Study on Singapore Residents’ Perceptions and Behaviours in Relation to Tobacco Packaging Lexology 6th Jul 2018
We previously discussed the Public Consultation Paper on Proposed TobaccoControl Measures in Singapore (the "Public Consultation Paper"), released by the Ministry of Health ("MOH") on 5 February 2018. Our earlier newsletter on this topic may be found here. As part of Phase 4 of the Public Consultation, MOH commissioned Blackbox Research, a market research consultancy, to conduct a Research Study on Singapore Residents’ Perceptions and Behaviours in Relation to Tobacco Packaging (the "Research Study"). The Research Study was published by MOH on 11 June 2018. The Research Study aimed to address two main objectives, namely: perceptions of current non-cigarette tobacco products; and reactions towards standardised packaging when compared against current branded packaging for non-cigarette products. This was done via qualitative research gathered from a total of 15 focus group discussions. In particular, findings from the Research Study found that standardised packaging of tobacco products would: reduce their overall appeal and attractiveness; increase the perceived harm that they pose to health; and increase the noticeability of graphic health warnings.

HSA releases Regulatory Guidelines for Telehealth Products and Devices for Modification of Appearance or Anatomy Lexology 6th Jul 2018
We previously discussed HSA's amendments to the medical device regulatory regime, which provide greater clarity to existing policies and requirements for: telehealth devices; and high risk devices for the modification of appearance or anatomy. Our earlier newsletter on this topic may be found here. These amendments have been made to the Health Products (Medical Devices) Regulations, and have been implemented with effect from 1 June 2018. To provide greater clarity on these amendments and to reflect HSA's current policy stance and practice on the relevant products, HSA has released a Regulatory Guideline for Telehealth Products ("Telehealth Products Guideline"), and a Regulatory Guideline for Devices for Modification of Appearance or Anatomy ("Modification Devices Guideline"), respectively.

45 per cent more long-term care workers needed by 2020: Study TODAYonline 26th Jul 2018
The Republic needs to almost double its pool of long-term care workers by 2020 to care for its ageing population, but challenges such as low pay and an over-reliance on foreign workers could stall efforts to meet that target. The Lien Foundation revealed this on Thursday (July 26) in a new study, which was based on an in-depth literature review of Government, academic and private sector documents, as well as interviews with about 35 local and foreign care providers. Face-to-face surveys were also conducted with 250 long-term care workers and 50 hospital workers in Singapore.

ICT

Business leaders must have deeper understanding of emerging technologies for digital transformation Techgoondu 19th Jul 2018
Businesses must be ready to accept change in the face of technology disruption. Such a cliched sentence that has been uttered endlessly in the past few years.

Easy-to-use plan to help security firms adopt technology for routine, manpower-heavy tasks Channel NewsAsia 18th Jul 2018
SINGAPORE: Local security agency firms can tap on a new plan that outlines clear roadmaps to help them adopt digital technology in their work, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo announced at its launch on Wednesday (Jul 18). 

70,000 members' data stolen, but Sias unaware for 5 years The Business Times 26th Jul 2018
HACKERS stole the personal data of 70,000 members of the Securities Investors Association of Singapore (Sias) in 2013 - yet for five years, the investor advocate had no clue about the breach. Sias was informed of the attack only on Wednesday morning when the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) paid it an unexpected visit. CSA - formed in 2015 and involved in the probe into the massive hacking of SingHealth - informed the association that the names, NRIC and telephone numbers of about 70,000 of its members have been stolen and leaked, sometime back in 2013.

Pilot for data protection certification scheme launched The Straits Times 25th Jul 2018
An open call for companies to join a pilot for data protection certification was launched on Wednesday (July 25) by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC). The Data Protection Trustmark (DPTM) certification was announced in 2017, as part of several initiatives to ensure that the data protection ecosystem in Singapore stays up to date. The certification will be officially rolled out by the end of 2018, after IMDA and PDPC finalise its process and framework following the pilot programme.

SingHealth issues alert against scam phone calls asking for personal data The Straits Times 23rd Jul 2018
SINGAPORE - If you receive a phone call from “SingHealth” asking for your personal or financial information, beware. SingHealth has alerted the public to suspicious phone calls that have surfaced in the wake of the recent cyber attack. In a Facebook post on Monday (July 23), SingHealth said that patients would be informed if their data had been leaked by SMS or letter only.

SingHealth hack 'worrying' for Singapore but govt response lauded The Business Times 21st Jul 2018
CYBERSECURITY experts praised the government's swift response to the cyberattack on SingHealth, but noted that it is "worrying" for Singapore's Smart Nation drive and industries that rely heavily on public confidence. In what is Singapore's worst cyber attack so far, hackers infiltrated the computers of SingHealth and stole the personal particulars of 1.5 million patients. Of these, 160,000 people, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and a few ministers, had their outpatient prescriptions stolen as well. SingHealth is Singapore's largest group of healthcare institutions with four hospitals, five national speciality centres and eight polyclinics. At a multi-ministry press conference on Friday, the authorities said PM Lee's information was "specifically and repeatedly targeted".

Singapore logistics firms urged to automate, adopt new technology Channel NewsAsia 18th Jul 2018
SINGAPORE: For Singapore to become a key player in the global supply chain, logistics firms here need to adopt new technologies and improve productivity, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on Wednesday (Jul 18). 

New industry network to bolster data protection in ASEAN ComputerWeekly.com 16th Jul 2018
A group of universities, certification bodies, law firms and data protection experts have banded together to form an industry network that hopes to shore up the data protection capabilities of organisations in Southeast Asia.

Cyber threats are on the rise in Singapore, mirroring global trends Networks Asia 12th Jul 2018
In 2017, the global cyber landscape continued to evolve. Cyber threats continued to grow in frequency and impact. Notably, there was a shift from profit-motivated attacks towards those aimed at causing massive disruptions, such as the WannaCry ransomware campaign.

New deals inked to drive Asean smart cities The Straits Times 9th Jul 2018
Several Asean cities inked agreements with corporate partners in Singapore yesterday, to gear up to become "smart cities".

This weak spot kept Singapore from being the top smart city in the world Singapore Business Review 6th Jul 2018
It scored a mere 2 points in people-centricity. Singapore placed second amongst the top 50 smart city governments in the world, a study by Eden Strategy Institute revealed.  With a total smart city government score of 32.3, Singapore scored its highest point of 4.1 in financial incentives followed by leadership (4), smart policies (4), talent readiness (3.1), and innovation ecosystem (3.1). Its lowest score came from people-centricity (2).

Infrastructure

Go-Jek aims to have hundreds of staff in Singapore The Straits Times 23rd Jul 2018
It has no firm date for its Singapore debut yet, but Indonesian start-up Go-Jek said it will launch a ride-hailing and logistics service in the Republic for a start, and is hopeful of growing the business to have "hundreds of employees" here.

Singapore wants to be broker for Asian infrastructure projects The Jakarta Post 14th Jul 2018
Singapore is seeking to take up the role as broker for infrastructure projects in Asia by mediating between the interests of investors and countries.

S’pore to spend over S$300 million on HSR by year-end, Khaw says in urging M’sia to clarify its position TODAYonline 9th Jul 2018
The Republic could incur some S$300 million on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) by year-end, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in Parliament on Monday (June 9) as he warned that a “significant” amount of the funds spent would be “completely wasted” if the project was called off. Giving a detailed breakdown of the costs involved for the first time, Mr Khaw said the Government had spent over S$250 million on the project by the end of May this year. The project was first mooted by Malaysia.

HSR project has cost Singapore almost RM745mil so far The Star 9th Jul 2018
Singapore has already spent more than S$250mil (RM744.2mil) on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) project, and is likely to expend another S$40mil (RM119mil) or so by year-end, its transport minister Khaw Boon Wan (pic) revealed in Parliament on Monday (July 9).

Singapore water industry contributes S$2.5b in value added to economy annually, creates 14,400 jobs to date Channel NewsAsia 9th Jul 2018
SINGAPORE: Singapore’s water industry has contributed S$2.5 billion in annual value-add to the economy and created 14,400 jobs to date, putting it on track to meet its 2020 targets.  Latest figures from national water agency PUB, the Economic Development Board (EDB) and Enterprise Singapore showed that since 2016, the sector has added 400 jobs and contributed S$300 million in value-added to the economy annually. “Singapore’s water sector continues to experience strong growth, with a robust water ecosystem anchoring Singapore as a leading global hydrohub,” the agencies said in a joint statement on Monday (Jul 9). This growth is important amid the growing risks of poorly managed urbanisation, climate change and infectious disease threats in developing countries and across the globe, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said on Monday.

Singapore’s finance sector can support Asian development but risk management also key: Heng Swee Keat The Business Times 16th Jul 2018
Singapore is positioned to support the region's development by financing infrastructure and enterprise in Asia, including bringing in private capital, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Friday.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing and services slowdown could hurt Singapore economy Singapore Business Review 19th Jul 2018
Global electronics demand have been hit by the US-China trade war. Singapore economy could face muted growth in Q2 2018 amidst underperforming growth in manufacturing and services, Maybank Kim Eng said. Manufacturing slowed down its growth to 8.6% from 9.7% in Q1 2018 with the gains mostly coming from electronics and biomedical manufacturing. Despite this, Maybank believes that the sector has been resilient amidst risks from the US-China trade war. “We expect manufacturing growth to ease to low single-digits in the second half, as global electronics demand taper and businesses reduce capex and production on the back of the US-China trade friction,” Maybank said.

Singapore manufacturers show most improvement in bill payment: study The Business Times 17th Jul 2018
THE manufacturing sector has shown the most improvement when it comes to payment behaviour in the last three years. The sector has slashed 14 days off the average time a company takes to pay a debt – from 42 days in Q2 2016 to 28 days in Q2 2018. In contrast, the average time taken for a retail company to pay up has increased by more than 157 per cent, from 14 days in Q2 2016 to 36 days in Q2 2018. This was according to DP Information Group’s analysis of the quarterly “Days Turned Cash” national average - a measure of how quickly SMEs (small and medium enterprises) pay their debts - based on the payment data of more than 120,000 companies.

Travel & Tourism

Orchard Road hotels' revenue bolstered by Trump-Kim summit Singapore Business Review 23rd Jul 2018
Q2 RevPAR was highest in June at 6.9% YoY. The meeting between US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has paid off for Singapore’s hotels. STR said that occupancy in the city reached 81%, higher than the 70% average in the Asia Pacific.

URA orders more detailed public survey on Airbnb-type home rentals after earlier mixed feedback The Business Times 23rd Jul 2018
THE Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has commissioned a "more detailed survey" of Singaporeans' views on short-term accommodations, after a public consultation earlier this year yielded mixed results. The survey, to be conducted by a research firm, will complement feedback obtained through the public consultation exercise and meetings with stakeholders, URA said. "We will continue to study the matter carefully, before deciding on the next steps forward," a spokesman said on Monday (July 23). Earlier this month, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said that new laws allowing for Airbnb-style stays are unlikely to come any time soon, in response to MPs' questions about an ongoing review of a proposed framework for regulating short-term rentals of private homes. Currently, stays in private homes have to be for at least three months. Among the proposals made is to allow properties to be used as short-term accommodation for up to 90 days, as long as owners who hold 80 per cent of the share value agree to a change in land use.

Tourism event tax could be extended to Airbnb-style rentals in future TODAYonline 11th Jul 2018
The amendments to the Cess Act — which were passed in Parliament earlier this week — could see persons who offer “travel or other event-related goods and services” being subjected to an additional business tax, if they benefit from key tourism events such as the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix. These could include property owners who rent out their units for short term accommodation (STA), for example. Previously, the Act only covered “tourist hotels, tourist food establishments and tourist public houses”. The amendments came amid a separate ongoing effort by the Government to come up with a regulatory framework for short-term private home rentals.