Singapore Update: October 24, 2018

Singapore Update | October 24, 2018
Authors: Lilibeth Almonte-Arbez, Bryan Yeoh 
 

LOOKING AHEAD

 

October 30-31: Mission to the ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM)

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

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Singapore-EU sign FTA

Singapore and European Union leaders inked a landmark trade deal on October 19 during the sidelines of the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit in Brussels.  Leaders also witnessed the signing of the EU-Singapore Investment Protection Agreement (EUSIPA) – a pact that will replace 12 existing bilateral investment treaties between Singapore and EU member states to offer better investment protection – and the EU-Singapore Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (ESPCA). Given that it is the first concluded trade deal between the EU and an ASEAN country, the EUSFTA has been touted as “the stepping stone” to a wider EU-ASEAN trade and investment agreement. Described as an “ambitious” trade pact that is “very important” for the Singapore economy, the newly signed EUSFTA is expected to boost trade between Singapore and the EU by 10 per cent within five years of entering into force. The deal includes flexible rules of origin for key exports such as automobiles, electronics and pharmaceuticals from Singapore and the EU into each other’s markets. Notably, the EUSFTA will have the concept of “ASEAN cumulation” for key exports from Singapore. Materials sourced from other ASEAN member countries may now be deemed as originating from Singapore and qualify for tariff concessions. Singapore will eliminate tariffs on all EU products entering Singapore. The EU will also remove tariffs on 84 per cent of Singapore products and do so for the remaining 16 per cent over the next three to five years. A boon to SMEs for greater transparency, EUSFTA is the first bilateral trade deal to secure enhanced market access for Asian food products made in Singapore. Products like roti prata can now enter the EU without tariffs, up to a combined quota of 1,250 tons annually.  Some Singapore companies are also gearing up for more investments in commercial real estate and looking to expand lodging portfolio in Europe. Market access into a wide range of services sectors, including financial services and professional services, will also be enhanced, while firms can look forward to “sizable” government procurement opportunities at both city and municipal levels. Not only good for bilateral trade, EUSFTA has a “larger signaling effect” given the backdrop of brewing trade tensions between the United States and China. Singapore hopes to continue arrangements with the UK, whether or not it is inside the EU. Britain stays in the EUSFTA for now but in a post-Brexit scenario, a “short form agreement” could be feasible between both countries using the EUSFTA as a reference point and applying benefits to Britain in a separate deal according to PM Lee.

Employment Act to cover All Employees

On October 2, Singaporean lawmakers introduced amendments to the Employment Act (Cap 91, 2009) to further improve employee rights. This move is in line with Singapore’s attempts to change its employment environment and streamline processes regarding labor. Singaporean lawmakers will have the second reading of the amendments during the next Parliament session and implementation is expected by April 2019. Businesses should therefore exercise due diligence in handling employment matters.

The main change in this year’s amendments is expanding the law’s coverage to managers and executives regardless of salary levels. There used to be a $4,500 a month salary cap excluding professionals, managers, and executives from certain labor protections. As a result, all employees except for public servants, domestic workers, and seafarers may now be entitled to key statutory benefits. Proposed changes include:

  • minimum days of annual leave;
  • paid sick leave, hospitalization leave, and reimbursement of medical fees;
  • allowing any medical practitioner to certify an employee’s paid sick leave and any hospital or medical institution as an approved hospital for paid hospitalization leave certification;
  • raised salary caps for non-workmen to $2,600 allowing more to benefit from mandatory rest days, overtime pay, and Central Provident Fund;
  • broadening definition of dismissal to include forced resignation and compensation for wrongful dismissal;
  • establishment of the Employment Court Tribunal (ECT) as a one-stop service for dispute resolution regarding salary disputes and wrongful dismissal cases;
  • Requiring the ECT when deciding any wrongful dismissal claim to be mindful of the guidelines on wrongful dismissal issued by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP).

Singapore issues new guidelines on Personal Data Protection

New guidelines under Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act 2012 (PDPA) have been issued. As of 1 September 2019, all private sector organizations in Singapore will be prohibited from collecting, using or disclosing all national registration identity cards (NIRC), their copies and numbers, unless they are required to do so under law, or if it is necessary to verify individuals’ identities to a “high degree of fidelity”. The rules apply to NIRCs of Singapore citizens and permanent residents, passport numbers, and foreign identification numbers. To a certain extent, guidelines treat differently physical NRICs, photocopies, and personal data contained therein.  Organizations also need to comply with notification and consent obligations. There is no requirement to ask NIRC numbers from prospective candidates and job applicants but the Employment Act require organizations to maintain detailed employment records. Companies will have to review their practices and policies on hiring of employees, to ensure that not only employment contracts, job application forms, and other employment-related forms but also data protection policies align with both PDPA and the Employment Act. They may inspect cards to check identity but not retain or copy NIRCs or consider recording only the last 3 digits and checksum of the NIRC. Under Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act 2012 (PDPA) contraventions of these rules could lead to an organization facing a financial penalty of up to S$1 million.

Singapore and Johor officials to take up “crooked bridge”

Singapore officials will meet Johor state government officials after they raised the possibility of reviving the “crooked” bridge project last week. The meeting which will be held in Singapore is scheduled for either October 27 or October 28. The Chief Minister of Johor and the Economic Affairs Minister are both expected to attend. The “crooked bridge” project is a six-lane S-shaped bridge that is designed to allow ships to pass underneath. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had proposed the plan 15 years ago before he retired but the plan was dropped by both his subsequent successors.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 
 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Multilateral Trade Agreements
EU emerges as champion of free trade with Singapore deal
Singapore, EU ink landmark free trade agreement
Free trade agreement to benefit Irish firms exporting to Singapore
PM Lee to make official visit to Vienna, attend Asia-Europe summit and sign EUSFTA in Brussels

Regional Affairs
Singapore and China agree to deepen cooperation in finance, infrastructure, education and science
Singapore, Austria sign agreement to boost cooperation in digitalisation, ICT
Apart from Malaysia, Singapore has other concerns: Balakrishnan
Air Force Exercise Puts Brunei-Singapore Defense Ties into Focus
Singapore, Indonesia to deepen economic links
Sulawesi quake-tsunami: Singapore offers humanitarian assistance

National Affairs
Changes that will extend labour law to PMETs introduced in Parliament
New Blue Plan to preserve more of Singapore's marine landscape
World Bank ranks Singapore tops in Human Capital Index
Oxfam rejects Singapore defense of low taxes

Market Development
Singapore logistics sector launches 3-year plan to speed up tech adoption

Clippings
Singapore tops World Bank 'human capital' rankings based on health, education
Singapore Named Best Country For Expats

Defense & Security
Singapore scores a few firsts as host of Asean defence summits
Ng Eng Hen welcomes Malaysia defence minister to Singapore during introductory visit
Japan’s largest warship visits Singapore on Indo-Pacific deployment
Singapore launches littoral mission vessels, hosts drills

Economics
Singapore’s core inflation eases to 1.8% in September
Expect a '3 plus-minus 5 per cent' model of future growth: Chan Chun Sing
Singapore ranks second in global competitiveness study
Flexible working projected to contribute $54.8b to Singapore economy by 2030: Study
Singapore inflation expectations slide to 2.88% for year ahead: Survey
Singapore’s GDP grew by 2.6% in the third quarter of 2018: MTI
Payment delays by Singapore firms up for second straight quarter in Q3
Singapore manufacturing outlook cools in September

Energy
Singtel mobile network disrupted in several areas of Singapore
Train service on North-East Line resumes after disruption caused by power fault
Parliament: Greater power for energy regulator to tackle disruption of gas supply
Parliament: Two power-generating units that tripped, causing September blackout, had been properly maintained

Financial Services
600 retail outlets islandwide in Singapore to accept China's WeChat Pay from Nov 1
UOB opens Singapore lab to improve digital banking experience
Nets launches PayCollect, an online billing and collections system for businesses
E-Payment Transactions – Duties for Financial Institutions
Singapore's UOB is said to review insurance deal with Prudential
Four Asean nations to lift barriers to cross-border investment advisory
Rules to bar fintechs from moving into banking ops
Singapore: MAS issues e-payment guidelines to protect consumers

Food & Agriculture
Singapore tops global index on food security, but climate change may affect food supply
World's largest rice science conference opens in Singapore, to discuss challenges facing rice production
Protecting migratory birds with tracking tech

Health & Life Sciences
Health Ministry to strengthen support for caregivers to the elderly
Children to show proof of vaccination before applying for Singapore long-term visit pass
KKH apologises for dispensing expired nose drops to baby, engages independent review panel
More people seeking help for mental health conditions, community group says
Alcohol abuse worse among younger people
Singaporeans' average life expectancy to reach 85.4 years in 2040, third-highest in the world: Study
HPB's new anti-smoking campaign focuses on impact to health, family and finances
Boosting immune system to fight malaria
MOH suspends 10 clinics from Chas scheme for severe non-compliance; case referred to police
KKH investigating allegation that expired nasal spray was given to baby

ICT
Issues with SingPass Mobile app due to 'software error': GovTech
Ex-Uber exec scores funding to bring e-scooters to Singapore
Multiple unauthorised log-in attempts detected on HealthHub portal: HPB
72 HealthHub accounts accessed without authorisation, e-service shut down for 6 days
Customers to get 1-day free local mobile data after Singtel service disruption due to power-related issue
Unauthorised access to 72 HealthHub accounts prompts shutdown of e-service for six days
'Talent gap' is no excuse for lax cybersecurity
Companies eye Singapore for data centre storage, cloud leasing
ST Engineering wins US$5.5mil Singapore contract to test smart lamp-posts
Undersea superhighway: A new 4,600km submarine cable linking Perth to Singapore
Why Singapore’s defence tech agency asked 300 hackers to test its systems
New biometric app out soon to boost security of e-services
Culture of complacency the greatest 'virus' in Singapore's battle against cyberattacks
Microsoft is investing in ride-hailing firm Grab
How hackers got away with SingHealth's crown jewels
Singapore working with Indonesia over regional intelligence web
SingHealth COI: Hackers tried to attack network again on July 19 amid probe
Plan to tap tech to provide better, faster public services
Facebook, IMDA's startup accelerator to kick off in February 2019 in Singapore
Four new members appointed to GovTech board
Facebook's Asia team moves to gigantic new headquarters in Singapore
Data center competition heats up in Southeast Asia

Infrastructure
Dispute management protocol launched to minimise delays in large infrastructure projects
Singapore unveils regional investment body to rival Belt and Road Initiative
Maritime and Port Authority to get new chief executive next year
CapitaLand takes 50% stake in co-working operator
Keppel in joint venture for first commercial development in India; to buy land for $81m

Malaysia
Mahathir's 'crooked bridge' project may be revived, says Johor menteri besar

Travel & Tourism
MICE visitors make up 15% of arrivals in Singapore, 22% of spending in H1 2018
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Multilateral Trade Agreements

EU emerges as champion of free trade with Singapore deal South China Morning Post 20th Oct 2018
The European Union and Singapore signed the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, which will boost services, improve market access, and see tariffs between both parties eliminated in five years.

Singapore, EU ink landmark free trade agreement Channel NewsAsia 19th Oct 2018
Singapore and the European Union (EU) on Friday (Oct 19) inked a landmark trade deal that will eliminate tariffs and give businesses across various sectors, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), better market access.

Free trade agreement to benefit Irish firms exporting to Singapore Agriland Ireland 19th Oct 2018
Irish firms exporting to Singapore are set to benefit as the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is officially signed today October 19 in Brussels. This agreement, along with an Investment Protection Agreement, will be signed at the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit.

PM Lee to make official visit to Vienna, attend Asia-Europe summit and sign EUSFTA in Brussels Channel NewsAsia 16th Oct 2018
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will make an official visit to Vienna on Wednesday (Oct 17) before flying to Brussels to attend the biennial Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit and sign a landmark trade deal between Singapore and the European Union (EU).

Regional Affairs

Singapore and China agree to deepen cooperation in finance, infrastructure, education and science The Straits Times 18th Oct 2018
On Thursday (Oct 18), Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He agreed to deepen bilateral partnership in the areas of finance, regional infrastructure development, education as well as science and technology in their meeting at the Central Financial and Economic Affairs Commission office.

Singapore, Austria sign agreement to boost cooperation in digitalisation, ICT Channel NewsAsia 17th Oct 2018
Singapore and Austria on Wednesday (Oct 17) inked a partnership that will bolster the exchange of information and best practices in key areas of digitalisation and information and communications technology (ICT). The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which will cover digitalization strategies for businesses among other things, was signed by Singapore’s Communications and Information Minister S Iswaran and Austria’s Federal Minister of Digital and Economic Affairs Margarete Schramboeck at the Federal Chancellery in Vienna.

Apart from Malaysia, Singapore has other concerns: Balakrishnan AsiaOne 15th Oct 2018
Singapore's important concern for now is the evolving bilateral relationship between the United States and China, although it keeps an eye on development in Malaysia. "What happens in Malaysia is very important to us…but that is not the main strategic change that is imperative for the plans that we are unfolding right now in Singapore," said its Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.

Air Force Exercise Puts Brunei-Singapore Defense Ties into Focus The Diplomat 15th Oct 2018
Earlier this month, Singapore and Brunei held the latest iteration of their joint air force exercise. The exercise once again put the spotlight once again on the defense relationship between the two Southeast Asian states amid wider domestic and regional challenges underway.

Singapore, Indonesia to deepen economic links The Straits Times 12th Oct 2018
Singapore and Indonesia announced several initiatives yesterday to deepen their relationship, including agreements to protect each other's investors and to shore up financial and monetary stability in the region.

Sulawesi quake-tsunami: Singapore offers humanitarian assistance Channel NewsAsia 2nd Oct 2018
SINGAPORE: The Singapore Government has offered to send humanitarian supplies and personnel to help with ongoing relief efforts in Indonesia following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit central Sulawesi last Friday (Sep 28). Two Republic of Singapore Air Force C-130 aircraft will deliver humanitarian supplies and equipment, including tents, meal rations and medical supplies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a press statement on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) has deployed two officers to participate in a 10-day mission to central Sulawesi as part of the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team. This is coordinated by the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management.

National Affairs

Changes that will extend labour law to PMETs introduced in Parliament Channel NewsAsia 23rd Oct 2018
More workers will be protected and they may see their working conditions improve under proposed changes to Singapore's main labour law, the Employment Act. Manpower Minister Josephine Teo tabled the first reading of the Employment (Amendment) Act in Parliament on Tuesday (Oct 2).

New Blue Plan to preserve more of Singapore's marine landscape The Straits Times 13th Oct 2018
Conservationists have drawn up an extensive new plan to preserve more of Singapore's marine landscape - from mangroves and seagrass meadows to coastal forests and coral reefs.

World Bank ranks Singapore tops in Human Capital Index The Straits Times 12th Oct 2018
A new index aimed at getting countries to invest in helping their people realise their full potential has put Singapore in the top spot. The Human Capital Index, launched by the World Bank at its annual meetings in Bali, also saw South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong lead 157 economies assessed.

Oxfam rejects Singapore defense of low taxes Reuters 10th Oct 2018
Oxfam rejected Singapore’s defense of its low taxes after the NGO ranked the wealthy city state among the 10 worst-offending countries in fuelling inequality with its low-tax regime.

Market Development

Singapore logistics sector launches 3-year plan to speed up tech adoption The Straits Times 3rd Oct 2018
Singapore's logistics sector is stepping on the gas pedal in its technology adoption efforts, with a three-year plan outlining ways for various stakeholders to digitalise their processes and collaborate with each other. The industry-led roadmap, developed by the Singapore Logistics Association (SLA), was announced on Wednesday by Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon at the Singapore Logistics Forum 2018.

Clippings

Singapore tops World Bank 'human capital' rankings based on health, education Channel NewsAsia 15th Oct 2018
NUSA DUA, Indonesia: Singapore topped the World Bank Group's newest index which ranks 157 countries based on the productivity of the next generation's workers. The bank's Human Capital Index was released on Thursday (Oct 11) at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund annual meetings on Indonesia's Bali island. The rankings, based on health, education and survivability measures, assess the future productivity and earnings potential for citizens of the World Bank's member nations, and ultimately those countries' potential economic growth.Singapore had an index standing at 0.88 followed by South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong. China was placed 46th, Malaysia at the 55th spot and Thailand at 65th. 

Singapore Named Best Country For Expats Forbes 11th Oct 2018
Asia dominated HSBC’s new global survey of expats, boasting ten of the 31 listed countries. Not surprisingly, Singapore topped the list again. For the annual report, thousands of participants ranked their adopted nation on a range of metrics, from economy to lifestyle to education opportunities.

Defense & Security

Singapore scores a few firsts as host of Asean defence summits The Straits Times 22nd Oct 2018
This year's Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting and its expanded platform, ADMM-Plus, will be remembered for a few firsts.It is the first annualised ADMM-Plus, which began as a triennial affair in 2010 before becoming biennial. It is the first time there was full attendance of all 18 defence ministers for the two summits.And, as Singapore proudly declared, it has managed a world first: a multilateral air code that Asean nations have committed to and that the eight ADMM-Plus members - Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea and the United States - have agreed to in principle.

Ng Eng Hen welcomes Malaysia defence minister to Singapore during introductory visit Channel NewsAsia 18th Oct 2018
Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen and his Malaysian counterpart Mohamad Sabu on Thursday (Oct 18) reaffirmed long-standing bilateral defence ties during the Malaysian minister's introductory visit to Singapore.

Japan’s largest warship visits Singapore on Indo-Pacific deployment Channel NewsAsia 14th Oct 2018
Japan's largest warship since World War II docked in Singapore on Thursday (Oct 18) as part of its two-month-long deployment to boost maritime security in the Indo-Pacific.

Singapore launches littoral mission vessels, hosts drills The Asia Times 10th Oct 2018
High commissioners and naval, air and land force officials from the Five Power Defense Arrangements (FPDA) member nations – Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom – arrived in Singapore on Thursday for Exercise Bersama Lima, a major annual joint exercise hosted this year by the Lion City.

Economics

Singapore’s core inflation eases to 1.8% in September Channel NewsAsia 23rd Oct 2018
Singapore's core consumer price index (CPI) eased to 1.8 per cent year-on-year in September from 1.9 per cent the previous month, according to the latest data.

Expect a '3 plus-minus 5 per cent' model of future growth: Chan Chun Sing The Straits Times 22nd Oct 2018
Instead of the "5 plus-minus 1" per cent growth of yesteryear, Singapore's economy will likely enter a phase of "3 plus-minus 5" per cent growth arising from technological disruption and global trade tensions, said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing.

Singapore ranks second in global competitiveness study International Investment 18th Oct 2018
A new World Economic Forum (WEF) ranking for the most competitive and innovative economies ranked Singapore in second place worldwide, just behind the United States. A total of 140 nations were reviewed by the WEF for its annual Global Competitiveness Report.

Flexible working projected to contribute $54.8b to Singapore economy by 2030: Study The Straits Times 17th Oct 2018
A study of flexible working in 16 key markets has found that the shift to this non-traditional working arrangement will raise its contribution to the Singapore economy to $54.8 billion by 2030, up from $27.3 billion currently.

Singapore inflation expectations slide to 2.88% for year ahead: Survey The Straits Times 15th Oct 2018
Singaporeans' median inflation expectations for one year ahead fell further to 2.88 per cent from last quarter's 3.11 per cent, according to a Singapore Management University (SMU) think tank released on Monday (Oct 15).

Singapore’s GDP grew by 2.6% in the third quarter of 2018: MTI The Independent 15th Oct 2018
Based on advance estimates, the Singapore economy grew by 2.6 per cent on a year-on-year basis in the third quarter of 2018, moderating from the 4.1 per cent growth in the previous quarter.

Payment delays by Singapore firms up for second straight quarter in Q3 The Straits Times 2nd Oct 2018
Payment performance in Singapore continued on a downward path as slow payments rose for the second consecutive quarter in the July-September period, owing to the retail sector. According to the latest report from the Singapore Commercial Credit Bureau (SCCB), prompt payments weakened slightly to under half of all payment transactions while slow payments made up over a third of transactions.

Singapore manufacturing outlook cools in September The Business Times 2nd Oct 2018
The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), a measure of manufacturing sentiment, lost 0.2 point month on month to 52.4. But September still marked the 25th straight month of expansion, with readings above 50 indicating growth in the manufacturing sector. The employment index ticked up by 0.1 point to 51.1, its highest level since December 2014.

Energy

Singtel mobile network disrupted in several areas of Singapore Channel NewsAsia 18th Oct 2018
Singtel's mobile network was down for many users in Singapore on Thursday night (Oct 18), with people in areas including one-north, Choa Chu Kang, Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Serangoon and Kembangan saying they were unable to access mobile services from around 10pm.

Train service on North-East Line resumes after disruption caused by power fault Channel NewsAsia 15th Oct 2018
Train service on the North-East Line has resumed after a power fault caused a service disruption of at least 45 minutes.

Parliament: Greater power for energy regulator to tackle disruption of gas supply The Straits Times 1st Oct 2018
The energy regulator now has more power to act in the event of a looming shortage or disruption to Singapore's gas supply, under changes to a law passed by Parliament on Monday (Oct 1). The Energy Market Authority (EMA) can also direct the power grid operator and an electricity licensee to connect their electrical equipment, if deemed necessary to expand the network or ensure the security and reliability of electricity supply to the public.

Parliament: Two power-generating units that tripped, causing September blackout, had been properly maintained The Straits Times 1st Oct 2018
Power-generating units at Sembcorp Cogen and Senoko Energy tripped one after the other on Sept 18 and caused the country's worst blackout in 14 years, yet both sets of equipment had been properly maintained. The incident has prompted the Energy Market Authority (EMA) to work closely with the two companies and their original equipment manufacturers to establish the root cause of the equipment failure. Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon told Parliament on Monday (Oct 1) that the breakdown occurred despite the units being maintained in accordance with the manufacturers' recommendations.

Financial Services

600 retail outlets islandwide in Singapore to accept China's WeChat Pay from Nov 1 The Straits Times 23rd Oct 2018
Shoppers who forget their wallets on visits to Cold Storage, Giant, Guardian and 7-Eleven will soon be able to pay for their purchases with their mobile phone via WeChat Pay.

UOB opens Singapore lab to improve digital banking experience ZDNet 18th Oct 2018
United Overseas Bank (UOB) has opened a lab in Singapore to identify ways to better personalise engagement with digital customers and is planning open similar facilities across its Asean network.

Nets launches PayCollect, an online billing and collections system for businesses The Straits Times 15th Oct 2018
Nets on Monday (Oct 15) launched PayCollect, an online billing and collections service that will allow businesses to issue invoices and collect payments electronically.

E-Payment Transactions – Duties for Financial Institutions Morgan Lewis 12th Oct 2018
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) recently released guidelines, effective 31 January 2019, on what steps consumers and financial institutions (FIs) should take to protect themselves for e-payment transactions, and how liability for fraudulent transactions should be apportioned.

Singapore's UOB is said to review insurance deal with Prudential The Edge Markets 12th Oct 2018
Singapore lender United Overseas Bank Ltd is reviewing its insurance business, including an existing partnership with Prudential Plc, after Southeast Asia witnessed a wave of lucrative distribution deals, people familiar with the matter said.

Four Asean nations to lift barriers to cross-border investment advisory The Straits Times 11th Oct 2018
South-east Asian financial regulators have agreed to allow cross-border investment advisory services and to set standards for social and sustainability bonds, according to announcements from the Asean Capital Markets Forum (ACMF) in Singapore.

Rules to bar fintechs from moving into banking ops The Straits Times 11th Oct 2018
While fintechs are welcome to set up shop here, there will be clear lines drawn to prevent them from using funds to push into banking operations, such as extending loans. Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) managing director Ravi Menon said yesterday that larger mobile wallet operators will have to ring-fence their e-wallet funds, meaning they will be barred from lending.

Singapore: MAS issues e-payment guidelines to protect consumers Asia Insurance Review 3rd Oct 2018
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has issued a set of guidelines aimed at protecting users of electronic payments from fraud, errors and security threats. The guidelines apply to both users of e-payments and financial institutions (FI) - banks, insurance providers, firms with stored value facilities and other intermediaries - that provide these electronic services, reported the Straits Times.

Food & Agriculture

Singapore tops global index on food security, but climate change may affect food supply The Straits Times 17th Oct 2018
Singapore is top in the world when it comes to ensuring that its citizens have access to safe and nutritious food at affordable prices in the short and long term. However, given that Singapore imports most of its food, climate change could still disrupt its food security depending on how badly other food-producing countries are hit.

World's largest rice science conference opens in Singapore, to discuss challenges facing rice production The Straits Times 15th Oct 2018
The production of rice, one of the world’s most important crops, is facing major problems, such as slow growth and climate change, which could increase its price by more than 30 per cent by 2050.

Protecting migratory birds with tracking tech The Straits Times 11th Oct 2018
Technology has not only confirmed what conservationists believed about the key role the Mandai Mangrove and Mudflat plays for migratory birds stopping at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, it has also helped the mudflat earn nature park status.

Health & Life Sciences

Health Ministry to strengthen support for caregivers to the elderly Channel News Asia 23rd Oct 2018
The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Tuesday (Oct 23) that it is leading a review to see how it can better support caregivers to the elderly.

Children to show proof of vaccination before applying for Singapore long-term visit pass Channel NewsAsia 18th Oct 2018
Foreign-born children aged 12 and below intending to apply for a long-term visit pass will soon need to submit documentation of their diphtheria and measles vaccinations, announced the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Thursday (Oct 18). 

KKH apologises for dispensing expired nose drops to baby, engages independent review panel The Straits Times 10th Oct 2018
The KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) apologised on Wednesday (Oct 10) for dispensing expired nose drops for a baby suffering from fever and flu. KKH said that it has also taken various actions to follow up on the case, which includes engaging an independent review panel.

More people seeking help for mental health conditions, community group says The Straits Times 9th Oct 2018
According to Dr Vincent Ng, chief executive officer of AMKFSC Community Services, there has been a 42 per cent increase in people seeking help from its mental health service MindCare over the past two years, either for themselves or their loved ones

Alcohol abuse worse among younger people The Straits Times 8th Oct 2018
Dr Reina Lim, a consultant at Singapore General Hospital's Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, said people here have shown a growing interest in alcohol as Singapore becomes more prosperous.

Singaporeans' average life expectancy to reach 85.4 years in 2040, third-highest in the world: Study The Straits Times 17th Oct 2018
Singaporeans will have the third-longest lifespans globally in 2040, according to a study by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) published on Wednesday (Oct 17) in medical journal The Lancet.

HPB's new anti-smoking campaign focuses on impact to health, family and finances The Straits Times 14th Oct 2018
More than 20,000 signed up for a 28-day programme run by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) to quit smoking, but only about 10 per cent stayed away from cigarettes for the entire duration.

Boosting immune system to fight malaria The Straits Times 11th Oct 2018
Scientists have discovered a potential treatment that could be effective in fighting severe malaria and other infectious diseases, by harnessing the body's own immune system.

MOH suspends 10 clinics from Chas scheme for severe non-compliance; case referred to police The Straits Times 8th Oct 2018
The Ministry of Health (MOH) has suspended 10 clinics from the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) for severe non-compliance.

KKH investigating allegation that expired nasal spray was given to baby Straits Times 2nd Oct 2018
The KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) said on Tuesday (Oct 2) that it is investigating an allegation that an expired nasal spray was given to a baby at the hospital.

ICT

Issues with SingPass Mobile app due to 'software error': GovTech Channel NewsAsia 23rd Oct 2018
Issues with the new SingPass Mobile app have been traced to a software error, said the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) on Tuesday (Oct 23). Several users had reported that they received a "121" error code when they tried to log into the app, hours after it was launched on Monday. 

Ex-Uber exec scores funding to bring e-scooters to Singapore The Business Times 23rd Oct 2018
Singapore's pavements are about to get a lot more crowded. Beam, founded by the former Asian chief for Chinese bike-sharing giant Ofo Inc, has raised US$6.4 million from investors including Sequoia India to deploy its electric scooters around the island nation.

Multiple unauthorised log-in attempts detected on HealthHub portal: HPB Channel NewsAsia 18th Oct 2018
Multiple unauthorised log-in attempts were detected on the Health Promotion Board's (HPB) HealthHub portal over four days, the statutory board said on Thursday (Oct 18).

72 HealthHub accounts accessed without authorisation, e-service shut down for 6 days The Straits Times 18th Oct 2018
About 70 HealthHub accounts are suspected to have been accessed without authorisation in recent days, despite nationwide calls to tighten cyber security since the attack on SingHealth’s database in June. Both the HealthHub and SingHealth incidents – although seemingly unrelated – happened under the watch of Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS) which runs the IT systems of all public healthcare operators in Singapore.

Customers to get 1-day free local mobile data after Singtel service disruption due to power-related issue The Straits Times 18th Oct 2018
A power-related issue was behind a disruption to Singtel's mobile services that affected many users islandwide for over three hours from around 10pm on Thursday (Oct 18). The Straits Times understands that it was an internal power issue. Apologising for the service disruption, the telco said in an update on Facebook at 1.20am on Friday that it detected issues with mobile voice and data services on its 3G and 4G network at 10.11pm.

Unauthorised access to 72 HealthHub accounts prompts shutdown of e-service for six days TODAYonline 18th Oct 2018
Seventy-two accounts on the Health Promotion Board’s (HPB) HealthHub portal were recently accessed without authorisation, prompting authorities here to shut down access to the electronic service for six days early this month. The HPB and Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS) said on Thursday (Oct 18) that they discovered the unauthorised log-ins during investigations into unusual activities on HealthHub, a one-stop portal and mobile application for Singaporeans to access their public health records and a range of e-services such as making medical appointments.

'Talent gap' is no excuse for lax cybersecurity The Edge Singapore 16th Oct 2018
To be sure, there is unlikely to be an infrastructure that is 100% secure against cyberattacks. But that also means the responsibility for protecting an organisation against a breach cannot be left only to the techies. Indeed, it is worrying that many assume cybersecurity is the responsibility of only skilled tech professionals or a sophisticated technology system.

Companies eye Singapore for data centre storage, cloud leasing The Business Times 15th Oct 2018
When it comes to big data, Singapore is going large. More companies are looking to lease existing buildings for data storage, and some tech companies are building their own facilities.

ST Engineering wins US$5.5mil Singapore contract to test smart lamp-posts The Star Online 15th Oct 2018
Singapore Technologies Engineering has won a S$7.5mil (RM22.63mil) contract for the trial of a smart lamp-post project in Singapore, which includes fitting sensors and cameras to posts in the city-state, according to the government's official tender website.

Undersea superhighway: A new 4,600km submarine cable linking Perth to Singapore The Straits Times 15th Oct 2018
The Straits Times understands that several Singapore ISPs, as well as international ones, are in talks to work with Australian communications firm Vocus to use the 4,600km Australia Singapore Cable (ASC) system.The new 4,600km submarine cable linking Perth to Singapore that delivers a minimum capacity of 40 terabytes per second could make this a possibility.

Why Singapore’s defence tech agency asked 300 hackers to test its systems GovInsider 15th Oct 2018
In the Singapore Government’s first-ever bug bounty programme, the Defence Science and Technology Agency of Singapore (DSTA) invited 300 ethical hackers from around the world to test the Ministry of Defence’s (MINDEF) internet-facing systems for vulnerabilities, or bugs. During the bug bounty project, ethical hackers tested 25 e-services from MINDEF, which ranged from medical systems and web mail to administrative systems.

New biometric app out soon to boost security of e-services The Straits Times 10th Oct 2018
A new biometric app that grants access to e-citizen services will be rolled out by the end of this month. In the light of the recent SingHealth cyber attack, having biometric identification does make systems safer, Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan said yesterday.

Culture of complacency the greatest 'virus' in Singapore's battle against cyberattacks The Edge Singapore 10th Oct 2018
Singapore has been investing heavily into cybersecurity amid its Smart Nation drive. But as details of the events leading to the cyberattack on Singapore Health Services’ patient database system in June emerge, so too do signs of a worrying trend: Has a culture of complacency seeped into the people and organisations tasked with defending the nation against cyber threats? And will these human-related weaknesses prove to be the chink in the armour that will lead to the collapse of “Fortress Singapore” — a term coined to describe the nation’s favourable position as a data centre hub due to its physical security and political stability?

Microsoft is investing in ride-hailing firm Grab CNBC 8th Oct 2018
Tech giant Microsoft said late Monday that it will invest an undisclosed sum into Singapore-based ride-hailing company Grab, as part of a strategic partnership. The two companies will also collaborate on technology projects in areas such as big data and artificial intelligence, while Grab will now use a number of Microsoft products, including the Azure cloud computing service, according to a joint statement.

How hackers got away with SingHealth's crown jewels The Straits Times 8th Oct 2018
An inquiry in the past two weeks into the SingHealth cyber attack has uncovered new details about the data breach and also identified weaknesses and lapses in the public healthcare group and its IT vendor. Based on testimonies of witnesses, Senior Tech Correspondent Irene Tham and Hariz Baharudin piece together an account of how Singapore's biggest cyber attack unfolded.

Singapore working with Indonesia over regional intelligence web The Straits Times 5th Oct 2018
Singapore is working closely with Indonesia to get more support at an Asean meeting later this month to build a regional counter-terrorism intelligence-sharing network, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, speaking at a Total Defence Awards dinner last night. Indonesian Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, in his speech at a counter-terrorism symposium in Singapore yesterday, said precious lives could have been saved if government agencies and ministries in the region had shared and exchanged quality intelligence during the siege of Marawi in the Philippines in May last year.

SingHealth COI: Hackers tried to attack network again on July 19 amid probe The Straits Times 5th Oct 2018
Attackers behind Singapore's worst data breach were so skilled that they established multiple footholds in SingHealth's network, enabling them to execute commands from yet another compromised server on July 19, amid investigations of their earlier breach.

Plan to tap tech to provide better, faster public services The Straits Times 3rd Oct 2018
There will be a fundamental re-engineering of the Government so that it can tap technology to provide better and faster public services at a fraction of the cost. This will involve radically overhauling or replacing its existing IT systems and revamping its processes.

Facebook, IMDA's startup accelerator to kick off in February 2019 in Singapore The Business Times 2nd Oct 2018
FACEBOOK unveiled Startup Station, Singapore, a startup accelerator program for data-driven startups based in South-east Asia. The program is created in partnership with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), and is set to kick off in February 2019. Startup Station, Singapore will provide startups with co-working space; mentorship by industry leaders; connections to investors; and access to the Regulatory Sandbox, which, facilitated by the IMDA, allows startups to develop new ideas through the use of data in a live environment.

Four new members appointed to GovTech board The Straits Times 1st Oct 2018
Four new board members have been appointed to the board of the Government Technology Agency (GovTech).The four newly appointed board members are OCBC Bank senior vice-president Bojan Blecic; World Bank Group chief technology officer Lesly Goh; Ms Melissa Khoo, group director of the Ministry of Health's ageing planning office; and Integrated Health Information Systems chief executive officer Bruce Liang.

Facebook's Asia team moves to gigantic new headquarters in Singapore CNET 1st Oct 2018
Moving from its previous home in South Beach Tower, Facebook now has 260,000 square feet across four levels in its new Marina One digs. Facebook's Singapore and regional teams, consisting of about 1,000 people, will be housed in the space, which can hold up to 3,000 workstations, Facebook's vice president of Asia Pacific, Dan Neary, said in a presentation. The space is also home to Facebook's first partner center in Asia. The move comes as Facebook ramps up operations in Asia, including its first data centre in the region. The 11-storey, 170,000 square metre centre, located in Singapore, will cost Facebook $1 billion.

Data center competition heats up in Southeast Asia Nikkei Asian Review 19th Oct 2018
Indonesia is challenging Singapore's dominance in data center investment by attracting industry giants Google, Alibaba and Amazon, with the latter proposing to pour nearly $1 billion into the country. The U.S. internet giant Google said this month that Indonesia would become its newest Asian hub for cloud services. The plan, which means setting up a data center in the world's fourth most populous nation, will be taking form soon, said Google Asia Pacific Managing Director Rick Harshman, at a recent Google Cloud Summit in Jakarta. The company is making "long-term investments in the infrastructure," he added, without specifying the amount.

Infrastructure

Dispute management protocol launched to minimise delays in large infrastructure projects The Straits Times 23rd Oct 2018
To help parties involved in infrastructure projects to manage disputes and minimise time and cost overruns, a dispute management protocol has been launched by the Ministry of Law.

Singapore unveils regional investment body to rival Belt and Road Initiative South China Morning Post 23rd Oct 2018
Singapore launched a government agency on Tuesday to support infrastructure projects across Asia, which need billions of dollars in funding, and make them more appealing to financial institutions and private investors.

Maritime and Port Authority to get new chief executive next year Channel NewsAsia 15th Oct 2018
The Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore will have a new chief executive from Jan 1, 2019, the Ministry of Transport (MOT) said in a press release on Monday (Oct 15). Ms Quah Ley Hoon, 42, will take over from Mr Andrew Tan, who will be retiring from the administrative service on Dec 31 to pursue new challenges, MOT added.

CapitaLand takes 50% stake in co-working operator The Straits Times 3rd Oct 2018
A CapitaLand unit has invested $13.5 million for a 50 per cent stake in The Work Project Kingdom (TWPK) and will extend a further $13.5 million in loans to the co-working operator. These two leases, plus TWPK's existing offerings in Singapore and Hong Kong, mean it has a total of 177,000 sq ft of flexible space, with more to come as it expands across the Asia-Pacific.

Keppel in joint venture for first commercial development in India; to buy land for $81m The Straits Times 1st Oct 2018
Keppel Corporation's property arm Keppel Land has entered into a joint venture with Indian property developer Puravankara Limited to buy a 3.09 hectare site in Bangalore and develop Keppel's first commercial development in India, the group announced on Monday morning (Oct 1).

Malaysia

Mahathir's 'crooked bridge' project may be revived, says Johor menteri besar The Straits Times 16th Oct 2018
The Johor state government will hold a meeting with Singapore soon where the possibility of reviving the "crooked bridge" project linking Johor and Singapore will be raised, said Johor Menteri Besar Osman Sapian.

Travel & Tourism

MICE visitors make up 15% of arrivals in Singapore, 22% of spending in H1 2018 The Straits Times 17th Oct 2018
Singapore continues to enjoy its status as a choice destination for quality events, as visitor arrivals to Singapore increased 7.7 per cent year on year to 9.2 million in the first half of 2018, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat said on Wednesday (Oct 17).