Singapore Update: November 15, 2018

Singapore Update | November 15, 2018

Authors: Lilibeth Almonte-Arbez, Bryan Yeoh

 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

November 19, Briefing Session on American Corporate Excellence Video Series

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Younger Party Members enter CEC at People’s Action Party Internal Elections: Implications on PM succession

The recent People’s Action Party (PAP) internal elections saw the rise of a younger batch of PAP members into the party’s highest decision-making body, the Central Executive Committee (CEC), and marked a possible narrowing of the field for PM succession. Members of the younger generation, also dubbed the “4G”, all ascended to spots in the CEC. They are Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, and Education Minister Ong Ye Kung who have been previously tipped as frontrunners to succeed Prime Minister Lee.

Perspectives differ on who the frontrunners to the PM succession are. PAP cadres in an anonymous interview with TODAY have stated that Ong is out of the running, pointing to Ong’s exclusion from the outgoing CEC’s recommended voting list as a subtle hint that he is not considered as part of the inner core group of leaders. A possible reason for Ong’s reported exclusion from the list is his limited political experience having only started in 2015 as part of the PAP’s Sembawang Group Representation Constituency (GRC) team. Chan and Heng both entered Parliament in 2011. On the other hand, Dr. Gillian Koh from the Institute of Policy Studies disagreed stating that there are still three frontrunners. She opined that Ong’s election to the CEC despite not being named in the outgoing CEC list underscores the weight of support that he has among the party. The PAP does not release how many votes each party member receives complicating corroboration of any expressed views.

Important developments to track are the number of assistant secretary-general positions and the names chosen to fill them in the coming weeks of CEC meetings. Local media observers have said that the member of the younger generation named as the party’s first assistant secretary general will most likely be Prime Minister Lee’s successor. However, Assistant Professor Woo Jun Jie from Nanyang Technological University cautioned that there might be more surprises in the leadership succession, and that it is possible that PAP will rewrite its own playbook and implement a transition process that deviates from expected norms. PAP is expected to announce its line-up of office-holders within two weeks.

The internal election results come at a time when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has hinted that Singapore may be heading to an early general election next year well ahead of its five-year deadline of January 21, 2021. Prime Minister Lee who is 66 has stated his desire to retire when he reaches the age of 70. Senior PAP members Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Teo Chee Hean, Khaw Boon Wan, Yaacob Ibrahim, and Lim Swee Say have all stepped down from their CEC positions. This PAP leadership shakeup is the most significant since Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong stepped down from the CEC back in 2011.

Singapore upgrades China FTA ahead of PM Lee and VP Pence bilateral meeting in APEC

Ahead of the bilateral meeting between Singapore PM Lee and VP Pence in APEC on November 16, Singapore upgraded its FTA with China. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang sealed the deal during his first official visit Singapore on Monday, November 12. China will have access to Singapore’s courier and environmental sectors and will be able to deliver parcels and documents in Singapore, as well as provide refuse collection, refuse disposal and waste management services. One additional Chinese bank will have full banking privileges in Singapore.

Singapore will have more access to China’s market including the legal, maritime and construction services sectors. More Singapore petrochemical exports will also qualify for preferential treatment. Petrochemical products are among Singapore’s top exports to China, accounting for one-quarter of Singapore’s total exports to China last year.

The Singapore-China FTA upgrade came amidst Australia’s recent ratification of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) paving the way for its entry into force on Dec 30 and the 2nd Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit this week. Whether this FTA lends momentum to or speeds up RCEP remains to be seen but it is a clear and positive signal for trade to other international markets. RCEP is slated for conclusion in 2019. The full text of the Joint Leaders’ Statement on RCEP may be found here.

Meanwhile, US Vice-President Pence kept up pressure on Japan to cut its trade surplus with the US and allow access for US auto and agricultural products. He was also quoted to say that a bilateral free trade agreement offered the best way forward dashing any hopes for the US to rejoin CPTPP anytime soon. It is unclear how the US and Singapore would tackle free trade agreements during the private bilateral meeting between VP Pence and PM Lee considering the non-market economy article in the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that is set to replace the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Singapore Reforming IP Dispute Resolution System, Seeks Public Consultation

Singapore’s Law Ministry is seeking public feedback on reforms to its intellectual property (IP) dispute resolution system. The Ministry is proposing a Fast Track regime for IP dispute resolution by consolidating cases under the High Court. Currently, IP disputes are heard in the High Court, State Courts, and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) depending on the nature of the IP right, the type of proceeding, and the value of the claim.

Once reforms are approved, parties would have the option to pursue IP disputes via either a default track or a Fast Track. Under the default track, it is proposed that the Civil Justice Reforms’ recommendations on pre-trial and trial procedures fully apply to IP cases. Under the Fast Track, a limit of 2 hearing days for trial, SG$500,000 cap on the value of the claim, and an overall SG$50,000 stage-based cap on party-to-party costs and disbursements are proposed. The court would have discretion in key matters and may extend the 2-day limit under exceptional circumstances. Furthermore, parties may mutually waive the SG$500,000 cap and opt for fast-track when issues in dispute are not so complex.

The proposed reforms are based on the recommendations of the IP Dispute Resolution Committee formed in 2015. According to the Ministry of Law, these reforms would enhance access to Singapore’s IP dispute resolution system particularly for individuals and SMEs and position Singapore as a choice venue for IP dispute resolution in Asia.

Public consultation will end on November 30, 2018. Full text of the public consultation paper and IP Dispute Resolution Committee report can be found here.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

For comments on reforms to Singapore’s intellectual property (IP) dispute resolution system, Council members may email Sunita Kapoor at skapoor@usasean.org by November 28, 2018 for the Council to consolidate its submission. Public consultation will end on November 30, 2018. Full text of the public consultation paper and IP Dispute Resolution Committee report can be found here.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Multilateral Trade Agreements
Singapore and China sign upgraded FTA as Premier Li Keqiang kicks off official visit
Trans-Pacific trade pact will go into force next month

Regional Affairs
Singapore, Malaysia renew ties as historic rival surfaces
US Vice President Pence to meet PM Lee during official visit to Singapore
Singapore, China conclude talks to upgrade free trade agreement
Singapore-Malaysia Leaders' Retreat postponed, new date yet to be fixed

National Affairs
Choice of next PM could now be down to two
Ong Ye Kung out of PM race, say PAP cadres
PM succession still a three-horse race, say analysts after PAP CEC election
Formula 4G: Singapore’s Lee injects new blood into ruling party in ‘major transition’
Law Ministry seeks public feedback on reforms to intellectual property dispute resolution system

ASEAN
Asean Summit will see region's leaders discuss ways to take grouping forward

Customs
New digital trade platform to streamline end-to-end trade processes

Defense & Security
Rough seas delay Singapore-Aussie military exercise, but 'not a showstopper': Heng Chee How

Economics
Businesses must accept more competition in exchange for more access to Asean markets: PM Lee
Singapore PMI returns to growth in October
3 takeaways from Singapore’s labour market report Q3 2018
Slowing down economic growth will not help create a more equal society: Josephine Teo
Fewer retrenchments, overall unemployment rate rises slightly in third quarter

Energy
ExxonMobil Supports New Singapore Energy Center Partnership with US$10 Million Commitment
SP Group unveils green energy trading marketplace
Singapore to pilot deployment of energy storage systems
Singapore's water success story to be repeated with energy: Chan Chun Sing
Companies to get more grants for projects that boost energy efficiency
Singapore: Major Utility Company Launches Blockchain-Based Solar Energy Marketplace
Policies will continue to be adjusted to support the energy sector: Chan Chun Sing
SP Group launches platform for households, small producers of solar energy to sell 'green credits'
Energy inefficient light bulbs to be phased out as part of NEA measures to go green

Financial Services
MAS, SGX leverage blockchain tech to settle tokenised assets
Singapore to launch tokenised securities settlement system
MAS, Bank Indonesia set up US$10 billion bilateral financial arrangement
Singapore announces formation of world's first commercial cyber pool
Singapore sets up world's first commercial cyber risk pool
Singapore’s asset management industry hits $2.39trn

Food & Agriculture
Company fined $9,000 for fraudulent labelling of canned food
Singapore works to tackle threats to food supply
Singapore reaches top of Global Food Safety List
Singapore suspends frozen pork imports from Japan's Gifu prefecture: AVA
Durian prices fall due to low customer numbers, expected to dip further

Health & Life Sciences
Professional and regulatory bodies, private hospitals and insurers welcome fee benchmarks
New multi-agency task force to drive health promotion
New measures to strengthen public healthcare systems following SingHealth data breach
Cigarette packs sold here to drop logos, feature drab colours by 2020 under MOH proposal
New app launched in Singapore as a one-stop resource for dementia caregivers
Singapore competition watchdog continues review of clinical laboratories' planned merger
Singapore Cancer Society launches three-year plan to tackle cervical cancer
MediShield Life extended to cover more healthcare needs
Pharma spending could hit US$1.26b by 2022 amidst a boost in government spending. Increased government spending will sustain the rapid growth of Singapore's pharmaceutical market, a report by Fitch Solutions revealed. Additional resources in the 2018 b

ICT
COI on SingHealth cyber attack: Change the way security incidents are reported, says CSA chief
Collective cooperation needed against cyber threats, says US expert
GoJek to launch in Singapore in 'coming weeks'
Singapore central bank chief warns of risks to data localisation measures
Singapore and Thailand QR Payments Will Soon Be Standardised
Singapore well-placed to be e-commerce hub, with its tech-readiness, infrastructure: Economist survey
COI on cyber attack: More will be done to deepen cyber-security awareness of SingHealth employees
SingHealth cyber attack COI: Senior manager reluctant to report attack because he did not want to deal with pressure
AI businesses on the rise in Asean
ASEAN economic ministers ink first e-commerce agreement
Grab in tie-up with UOB for financial services in region

Infrastructure
What will drive demand for electric cars?
Hyflux seeks ‘super priority’ for rescue financing from Indonesian investors
Singapore, Cambodia JV to raise mixed-use project in Tuol Kork
Bicycle-sharing operators right-sizing their fleets ahead of LTA deadline

Manufacturing
Singapore factory output falls 0.2% in September
Asean needs to get set for possibly the biggest supply chain shift in a generation

Travel & Tourism
Singapore Airlines to offer longest flight from Seattle
Resorts World Sentosa stops providing single-use plastic straws at attractions, eateries
WTM 2018: South-east Asia bouncing back
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Multilateral Trade Agreements

Singapore and China sign upgraded FTA as Premier Li Keqiang kicks off official visit The Straits Times 12th Nov 2018
Delegates from China and Singapore met for an hour before the two leaders witnessed the exchange of 11 memorandums of understanding. They also signed an upgrade of the free trade agreement (FTA) between China and Singapore.

Trans-Pacific trade pact will go into force next month The Straits Times 1st Nov 2018
An ambitious agreement set to strengthen trade and investment flows across the Pacific amid a climate of rising protectionism will go into effect at the end of next month. Australia became the sixth country to ratify the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), joining Singapore, Canada, Japan, Mexico and New Zealand. Canberra's ratification means the treaty, which will enter into force on Dec 30, has been ratified by a majority of members.

Regional Affairs

Singapore, Malaysia renew ties as historic rival surfaces The Miami Herald 12th Nov 2018
Singapore's leader vowed Monday to strengthen ties with Malaysia, which is now led by a historic rival following a game-changing election.

US Vice President Pence to meet PM Lee during official visit to Singapore Channel NewsAsia 10th Nov 2018
United States Vice President Mike Pence will meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during his official visit to Singapore next week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said on Saturday (Nov 10). Mr Pence will be in Singapore from Nov 13 to 16 and will attend the 6th ASEAN-US Summit and the 13th East Asia Summit.  He will be accompanied by his wife Karen as well as senior officials from the Vice President’s Office, the National Security Council and the State Department. Mr and Mrs Pence will also receive an official welcome ceremony at the Istana, and attend a ceremony where a new orchid hybrid will be named in their honour. Mr Lee will host Mr Pence and senior members of the US delegation to a breakfast meeting which will also include other Singapore ministers.  The White House had earlier said that Mr Pence would be attending the ASEAN Summit on behalf of US President Donald Trump. He will also also represent Mr Trump at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Papua New Guinea.Mr Pence will also be visiting Japan and Australia and will hold meetings with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Scott Morrison. National Security Advisor John Bolton will also join Mr Pence for the US-ASEAN Summit and East Asia Summit, as well as for the APEC meetings in Papua New Guinea. 

Singapore, China conclude talks to upgrade free trade agreement Channel NewsAsia 6th Nov 2018
Singapore and China have concluded talks to upgrade the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA), Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said in a statement on Monday (Nov 5).

Singapore-Malaysia Leaders' Retreat postponed, new date yet to be fixed The Straits Times 26th Oct 2018
The next Singapore-Malaysia Leaders' Retreat has been postponed to a date to be fixed, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday (Oct 26) in response to media queries. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was due to travel to Putrajaya to meet his Malaysian counterpart, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, for the 9th Leaders' Retreat next month.

National Affairs

Choice of next PM could now be down to two The Straits Times 14th Nov 2018
The ruling People's Action Party (PAP) is expected to announce its line-up of office-holders within two weeks. Sources say the choice for the crucial first assistant secretary-general (ASG) post - potentially Singapore's next prime minister - has narrowed to two: Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat and Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing.

Ong Ye Kung out of PM race, say PAP cadres TODAYonline 13th Nov 2018
The field of frontrunners to succeed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has narrowed, after People's Action Party (PAP) cadres told TODAY that Education Minister Ong Ye Kung is out of the running as he is not deemed to be a core leader within the ruling party.

PM succession still a three-horse race, say analysts after PAP CEC election Channel NewsAsia 12th Nov 2018
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat and Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing - widely regarded as potential successors to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong - were all voted into the party’s highest decision-making body

Formula 4G: Singapore’s Lee injects new blood into ruling party in ‘major transition’ South China Morning Post 11th Nov 2018
Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, on Sunday unveiled a major shake-up of its top leadership before an expected handover of power by 2020.

Law Ministry seeks public feedback on reforms to intellectual property dispute resolution system The Straits Times 26th Oct 2018
Civil intellectual property (IP) disputes could be consolidated in the High Court under new proposals by the Law Ministry, which is also calling for a Fast Track regime for IP litigation.

ASEAN

Asean Summit will see region's leaders discuss ways to take grouping forward The Straits Times 10th Nov 2018
Singapore is in the spotlight as leaders of all 10 Asean members gather for the 33rd Asean Summit and several related meetings at the Suntec Singapore Convention Center. ASEAN leaders are expected to adopt the Asean Smart Cities Framework. The framework covers the setting up of a network of smart cities in the region. Its initial 26 members include Bangkok, Cebu City and Yangon, and will tap technology and work with partners to improve public services and economic opportunities for residents, among others. The leaders will also take stock of Asean's achievements this year in strengthening the grouping's resilience and innovation - two key themes of Singapore's chairmanship - and discuss how to take Asean forward at a time of geopolitical and economic change.

Customs

New digital trade platform to streamline end-to-end trade processes Channel NewsAsia 25th Oct 2018
Digitising trade documentation and processes will help raise productivity, boost competitiveness and create new opportunities, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Wednesday (Sep 26) at the unveiling of the new Networked Trade Platform (NTP). Currently, a single trade can involve over 25 parties, generating 30 to 40 documents, as well as requiring 60 to 70 per cent of information to be manually re-entered at least once.

Defense & Security

Rough seas delay Singapore-Aussie military exercise, but 'not a showstopper': Heng Chee How The Straits Times 10th Nov 2018
Choppy seas have delayed plans for a ship-to-shore military exercise in which Singaporean and Australian troops are meant to storm a beach.

Economics

Businesses must accept more competition in exchange for more access to Asean markets: PM Lee The Business Times 13th Nov 2018
EVEN as Asean governments pursue economic cooperation, businesses must do their part to encourage such moves by accepting more competition at home in return for access to markets in other countries, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the opening ceremony of the two-day Asean Business and Investment Summit, he extolled the benefits of economic openness, which reduces barriers and costs for businesses.

Singapore PMI returns to growth in October Nikkei Asian Review 5th Nov 2018
Singapore's private sector economy signaled a return to growth in October, with stronger improvement in sales and higher output.

3 takeaways from Singapore’s labour market report Q3 2018 Human Resources Online 29th Oct 2018
The Q3 Labour Market Report’s advance release on Friday (26 October) by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) revealed better employment numbers and stable unemployment rates, showing further signs of improvement from the market situation in Q2 2018.

Slowing down economic growth will not help create a more equal society: Josephine Teo The Straits Times 26th Oct 2018
Deliberately slowing down Singapore's economic growth will not help tackle inequality, but will instead make everybody worse off, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo on Friday (Oct 26).

Fewer retrenchments, overall unemployment rate rises slightly in third quarter The Straits Times 26th Oct 2018
Fewer people were laid off in the third quarter of this year, while overall unemployment crept up slightly, according to Ministry of Manpower (MOM) statistics released on Friday (Oct 26). But as a whole, the labour market continued to improve, with total employment growth more than doubling in this period, said the ministry.

Energy

ExxonMobil Supports New Singapore Energy Center Partnership with US$10 Million Commitment Business Wire 31st Oct 2018
-ExxonMobil said today that it will contribute US$10 million over five years (S$14 million) to become the first industry founding partner in a new Singapore Energy Center partnership led by the Nanyang Technological University and National University of Singapore and designed to advance next-generation technologies.

SP Group unveils green energy trading marketplace Asian Power 30th Oct 2018
Singapore's SP Group launched a digital marketplace powered by blockchain technology to allow companies to trade RECs which is a document used to offset the use of non-renewable energy, an announcement revealed.

Singapore to pilot deployment of energy storage systems Asian Power 30th Oct 2018
Singapore’s Energy Market Authority (EMA) and Sembcorp Industries (Sembcorp) will collaborate on a pilot programme that will facilitate the deployment of Energy Storage Systems (ESS) in the country. The initiative is called ACCelerating Energy Storage for Singapore (ACCESS).

Singapore's water success story to be repeated with energy: Chan Chun Sing The Straits Times 30th Oct 2018
If the past 50 years have been about how Singapore has overcome water scarcity, the next 50 will be about how the country overcomes its energy challenges. “Just like how Singapore has successfully diversified our supply of water over the years, our next ambitious goal is to enhance our energy resilience to ensure that we are never dependent on any single source of supply,” said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing on Tuesday (Oct 30) at the opening of Singapore International Energy Week at Marina Bay Sands.

Companies to get more grants for projects that boost energy efficiency The Straits Times 30th Oct 2018
At the opening of this year's Singapore International Energy Week on Tuesday (Oct 30), Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing unveiled new and increased grants to co-fund energy efficiency projects. The Energy Market Authority (EMA) and Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB) are rolling out separate grants for projects that can each trim at least 500,000 tonnes per annum of carbon emissions.

Singapore: Major Utility Company Launches Blockchain-Based Solar Energy Marketplace CoinTelegraph 29th Oct 2018
SP Group, a major corporation providing electricity and gas transmission in Singapore, has launched a blockchain-powered renewable energy certificate (REC) marketplace, the company reveals in a press release Monday, Oct. 29.

Policies will continue to be adjusted to support the energy sector: Chan Chun Sing Channel News Asia 29th Oct 2018
The Government will not shy away from making tweaks and adjustments to policies if needed to support Singapore's energy sector, given the changes in the global energy landscape, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing in an interview with Channel NewsAsia.

SP Group launches platform for households, small producers of solar energy to sell 'green credits' The Straits Times 29th Oct 2018
It is now easier for small producers of solar energy in Singapore to sell "green credits" to buyers keen to offset their carbon footprint. To link up these buyers and sellers, SP Group has launched a digital marketplace powered by blockchain technology, thus ensuring safe, transparent and fast transactions.

Energy inefficient light bulbs to be phased out as part of NEA measures to go green The Straits Times 26th Oct 2018
From 2023, all light bulbs sold in Singapore are likely to be as energy efficient as a light emitting diode (LED) bulb.

Financial Services

MAS, SGX leverage blockchain tech to settle tokenised assets The Business Times 12th Nov 2018
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Singapore Exchange (SGX) have developed Delivery versus Payment (DvP) capabilities to settle tokenised assets across different blockchain platforms. "This will help simplify post-trade processes and further shorten settlement cycles," MAS and SGX said in a joint release. DvP is a settlement procedure where securities and monies are exchanged at the same time, so that delivery of securities only takes place if payment is made.

Singapore to launch tokenised securities settlement system The Asia Times 12th Nov 2018
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Singapore Exchange (SGX) have been working together to develop a Delivery versus Payment (DvP) system to ease the settlement of tokenized securities payments.

MAS, Bank Indonesia set up US$10 billion bilateral financial arrangement Channel NewsAsia 9th Nov 2018
The central banks of Singapore and Indonesia on Monday (Nov 5) signed agreements to set up a US$10 billion (S$13.8 billion) bilateral financial arrangement.  It will enable the two sides to access foreign currency liquidity from each other, if needed, to preserve monetary and financial stability, said the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Bank Indonesia in a joint media release.

Singapore announces formation of world's first commercial cyber pool Asia Insurance Review 5th Nov 2018
Singapore is establishing the world's first commercial cyber risk pool to strengthen the region's resilience to cyber threats, announced its Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat at the opening of the 15th Singapore International Reinsurance Conference on Monday.

Singapore sets up world's first commercial cyber risk pool Channel NewsAsia 29th Oct 2018
Singapore is setting up the world’s first commercial cyber risk pool as part of efforts to develop the region's capacity to deal with threats from cyber attacks, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced at the 15th Singapore International Reinsurance Conference on Monday (29 Oct). “The pool will commit up to US$1 billion in capacity, and bring together both traditional insurance and insurance-linked securities markets to provide bespoke cyber coverage," he said.

Singapore’s asset management industry hits $2.39trn International Adviser 29th Oct 2018
Assets in the Lion City grew 19% to S$3.3trn (£1.85trn, $2.39trn, €2.1trn) in 2017, up from S$2.74trn in 2016, according to a Monetary Authority of Singapore report, which noted that the growth rate had quickened compared with the previous five years. Traditional and alternative funds were the drivers that took net inflows to S$220bn, which compares with net inflows of S$116bn in 2016.

Food & Agriculture

Company fined $9,000 for fraudulent labelling of canned food The Straits Times 15th Nov 2018
A company was fined $9,000 in court on Wednesday (Nov 14), for fraudulent labelling of canned food. Skytime HupKee Foodstuff had sold cans of fried dace with salted black beans that were falsely labelled. Dace is a type of fish. In December 2017, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) received feedback that Skytime HupKee Foodstuff was suspected to have sold canned fried dace with salted black beans that were intentionally mislabelled with an "LRB" brand label.

Singapore works to tackle threats to food supply The Straits Times 11th Nov 2018
Rice plants stand in rows of pots, some stained yellow with fungus infections, others wilting after days without water. Before The Sunday Times entered the greenhouse, rice researcher Rapee Heebkaew handed over white lab coats and plastic bags to place over shoes. "Wear this," she said. "You'll be fine from whatever's in there, but we need to protect the rice plants from you." This is the Singapore greenhouse of Germany's pharmaceutical and life sciences giant Bayer, where Ms Heebkaew develops ways to make rice more resistant to rice blast fungus, a devastating infection that annually destroys so much rice that could have fed millions, and will only spread and worsen with climate change.

Singapore reaches top of Global Food Safety List Fresh Plaza 5th Nov 2018
Singapore moved from fourth place to the top of the list. This announcement explained that this development is due to Singapore being a high-income economy with low custom tariffs for agricultural import products, which helps to reduce the import costs.

Singapore suspends frozen pork imports from Japan's Gifu prefecture: AVA Channel NewsAsia 29th Oct 2018
The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) said on Saturday (Oct 27) that it suspended the import of frozen pork from Japan in September, after the country saw its first outbreak of swine fever in 26 years.

Durian prices fall due to low customer numbers, expected to dip further The Straits Times 14th Nov 2018
Prices for Mao Shan Wang durians are falling, as vendors in Singapore see a slump in customer numbers. Mao Shan Wang durians - also known as Musang King - usually go for more than $20 per kg, but are now being sold for $16 to $20 per kg, according to four vendors The Straits Times spoke to. One vendor that Lianhe Wanbao spoke to, King Fruits Durian, even slashed prices to $10 a durian on Monday (Nov 12).

Health & Life Sciences

Professional and regulatory bodies, private hospitals and insurers welcome fee benchmarks The Straits Times 13th Nov 2018
Fee benchmarks for 222 common surgical procedures by private surgeons here, such as hip replacement and colonoscopy, were published online on Tuesday (Nov 13) by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on its website, as part of government measures to boost transparency and rein in rising healthcare costs.

New multi-agency task force to drive health promotion Channel News Asia 4th Nov 2018
A new multi-agency task force has been set up to drive transformation efforts to promote healthy living in Singapore.

New measures to strengthen public healthcare systems following SingHealth data breach The Straits Times 1st Nov 2018
The cyber attack on SingHealth's network in June has prompted a slew of new measures at its IT vendor, including a requirement to report suspicious IT incidents within 24 hours.

Cigarette packs sold here to drop logos, feature drab colours by 2020 under MOH proposal The Straits Times 31st Oct 2018
The Ministry of Health (MOH) plans to change the law so that by 2020, all cigarette packs sold here will not be allowed to carry logos, brand images and any promotional information. Instead, they would all be sold in packs of a drab dark brown colour. But warnings may carry brighter colours.

New app launched in Singapore as a one-stop resource for dementia caregivers Healthcare IT News 29th Oct 2018
The Dementia Friends app also allows people to sign up as "dementia friends" who can be notified to keep a lookout for missing seniors with dementia.

Singapore competition watchdog continues review of clinical laboratories' planned merger The Business Times 29th Oct 2018
THE Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) is putting the planned merger of two private clinical laboratories under the microscope, over potential competition concerns. Private investment firm TPG Capital Asia's acquisition of Innovative Diagnostics and Quest Laboratories has led to third-party feedback that alternative service providers may not be able to provide enough competition after the two firms are merged, the CCCS said on Monday.

Singapore Cancer Society launches three-year plan to tackle cervical cancer The Straits Times 27th Oct 2018
Dr Ravindran Kanesvaran, vice-chairman of the society, announced on Saturday (Oct 27) plans to encourage girls and younger women to be vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer. The HPV Education and Immunisation Programme, which will be rolled out over the next three years, aims to raise greater awareness of cervical cancer prevention and to encourage girls aged nine to 26 to go for HPV vaccination.

MediShield Life extended to cover more healthcare needs The Straits Times 8th Nov 2018
The national health insurance scheme has been extended to cover more healthcare needs, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced yesterday. The move, which will benefit about 2,000 people a year, is part of the ministry's continuing review of MediShield Life to "ensure that it provides protection for Singaporeans against large hospital bills and selected costly outpatient treatments, in keeping with developments in medical care".

Pharma spending could hit US$1.26b by 2022 amidst a boost in government spending. Increased government spending will sustain the rapid growth of Singapore's pharmaceutical market, a report by Fitch Solutions revealed. Additional resources in the 2018 b Healthcare Asia 31st Oct 2018
Pharma spending could hit US$1.26b by 2022 amidst a boost in government spending. Increased government spending will sustain the rapid growth of Singapore's pharmaceutical market, a report by Fitch Solutions revealed. Additional resources in the 2018 budget are geared towards the consolidation of health and social services, as there are currently almost half a million people aged over 65 in the country.

ICT

COI on SingHealth cyber attack: Change the way security incidents are reported, says CSA chief The Straits Times 14th Nov 2018
The healthcare sector has been asked to change the way its IT security teams report incidents so that key decision makers can call the shots during a cyber attack. A thorough review of the sector's IT processes and cyber-security training for relevant staff should also be carried out, a high-level panel heard on Wednesday (Nov 14).

Collective cooperation needed against cyber threats, says US expert The Straits Times 13th Nov 2018
Cyber criminals can find vulnerabilities and breach any organisation's IT system, given enough time, and current protection measures are insufficient. To counter this, the Government and industry players need to work together on collective systems that share information to continually learn and prepare defences, former director of the United States' National Security Agency Keith Alex-ander said yesterday.

GoJek to launch in Singapore in 'coming weeks' Nikkei Asian Review 12th Nov 2018
Indonesian ride-hailing operator Go-Jek will "within the coming weeks" start piloting its service in Singapore, challenging main rival Grab on its home turf, the company said on Monday. Singapore will be Go-Jek's second overseas market; it launched operations in Vietnam in September through local partner Go-Viet. Its forays into neighboring countries are set to intensify its battle for regional dominance with Grab. The company is also looking to expand into Thailand under the name GET, and the Philippines. Go-Jek also announced "a regional strategic partnership" with Singapore's DBS Bank to work together on payment services in the city-state and other Southeast Asian countries. Preregistration for Singaporean drivers started in late October.

Singapore central bank chief warns of risks to data localisation measures The Star Online 12th Nov 2018
Concerted moves by countries to force companies to store data locally poses a risk to the growth of the digital economy, Singapore's central bank chief said on Monday.

Singapore and Thailand QR Payments Will Soon Be Standardised Fintech Singapore 12th Nov 2018
Thanks to a partnership signed between NETS and ITMX, Thailand’s interbank payment infrastructure, Thai mobile wallet users will soon be able to scan the NETS QR Code and NETS Pay Users in turn will also be able to scan the Thai Standardised QR Code.

Singapore well-placed to be e-commerce hub, with its tech-readiness, infrastructure: Economist survey The Straits Times 5th Nov 2018
Goods imported into Singapore take slightly over 30 hours to clear the border compliance process. This might sound like a long time, but it is almost a third of the time that goods imported into Indonesia might take. Indeed, Singapore is the quickest when it comes to export and import times, compared to neighbours such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.

COI on cyber attack: More will be done to deepen cyber-security awareness of SingHealth employees The Straits Times 5th Nov 2018
SingHealth said it plans to introduce a series of measures for all 28,000 employees to deepen their understanding of cyber safety, after hackers used a phishing ploy to enter its network and mount Singapore’s worst-ever data breach.

SingHealth cyber attack COI: Senior manager reluctant to report attack because he did not want to deal with pressure The Straits Times 31st Oct 2018
Chat messages that showed a bottleneck in the reporting of suspicious network activities came under the spotlight, as the third phase of public hearings on the SingHealth cyber attack started on Wednesday (Oct 31). "Once we escalate to management, there will be no day no night," one message went, meaning that there will be a lot more work and pressure.

AI businesses on the rise in Asean Bangkok Post 29th Oct 2018
Singapore is one of the Southeast Asian countries aiming to be a leader and business centre in artificial intelligence (AI) in line with its industrial transformation policy. The so-called Industry 4.0 revolution has been taking place in Asia-Pacific nations, including Thailand, providing significant opportunities for AI development.

ASEAN economic ministers ink first e-commerce agreement Channel NewsAsia 12th Nov 2018
Economic ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Monday (Nov 12) signed an agreement to facilitate cross-border e-commerce transactions within the region. The agreement, finalised after nine rounds of negotiations which started last June, is the grouping's first agreement on e-commerce. Apart from aiming to facilitate cross-border e-commerce transactions, the newly signed pact will look to foster an environment of trust and confidence in the use of e-commerce, said Singapore Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing at the signing ceremony held on the sidelines of the 17th ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Council Meeting.

Grab in tie-up with UOB for financial services in region The Business Times 12th Nov 2018
UOB and Grab have entered into an alliance that will see UOB delivering financial services to Grab’s user base in Asean. UOB said the partnership is part of UOB’s efforts to meet the needs of the region’s fast-growing mobile-first and mobile-only consumers, and will pave the way for Grab to offer directly from its app a number of the bank's payment solutions. Under the alliance, UOB will become Grab’s preferred banking partner in Singapore, and a strategic credit card partner in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Consumers will enjoy special privileges when paying for Grab services with their UOB cards. Both firms said that they will explore launching co-branded credit cards in Asean.

Infrastructure

What will drive demand for electric cars? Channel News Asia 3rd Nov 2018
Mass-market plug-in electric vehicles have been around for about a decade, but growth in sales has been seen by industry watchers as slow. Even though China – the world’s biggest market for electric cars – spent more than US$7 billion on electric vehicle subsidies last year, only around 579,000 electric cars were sold in 2017 – about two per cent of its total market.

Hyflux seeks ‘super priority’ for rescue financing from Indonesian investors Channel News Asia 2nd Nov 2018
Beleaguered water treatment firm Hyflux on Friday (Nov 2) said it has made a court application to seek "super priority" status for rescue financing from its Indonesian investors. Seen as one of Singapore’s most successful business stories, the water treatment firm made the unexpected move on May 22 to apply for a court-supervised process to reorganise its business and liabilities, citing "prolonged weakness" in the local power market for its cash woes. The company was also on the lookout for buyers for its Tuaspring Integrated Water and Power Plant, which analysts said was key to trimming Hyflux's "humongous" debt load.

Singapore, Cambodia JV to raise mixed-use project in Tuol Kork Khmer Times 2nd Nov 2018
HLH Development Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of publicly listed Hong Lai Huat Group Limited, yesterday entered into a joint venture agreement with local conglomerate Royal Group of Companies to launch a mixed development project in Phnom Penh. The project, which will feature a park and a retail mall, is located in the heart of Tuol Kork district, one of the most affluent areas in the city, near the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

Bicycle-sharing operators right-sizing their fleets ahead of LTA deadline Channel News Asia 30th Oct 2018
Bicycle-sharing companies in Singapore with bigger fleets than they are allowed are moving the excess bikes to warehouses, scrapping them for spare parts and even shipping them overseas ahead of the Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) deadline on Thursday (Nov 1).

Manufacturing

Singapore factory output falls 0.2% in September Channel NewsAsia 29th Oct 2018
Singapore's industrial production unexpectedly fell in September from the year earlier as manufacturing in the electronics and pharmaceutical sectors took a dip, data showed on Friday (Oct 26).

Asean needs to get set for possibly the biggest supply chain shift in a generation The Business Times 6th Nov 2018
HSBC's global Navigator survey, which included the views of more than 8,500 corporates (1,000 of them in Asean) - finds South-east Asia the most trade-positive region in the world. Businesses are shrewdly seeing and capitalizing on the opportunity amid the emerging trade disruption. Shifts in production to Asean can, and are happening quickly.

Travel & Tourism

Singapore Airlines to offer longest flight from Seattle seattlepi.com 5th Nov 2018
Singapore Airlines will offer non-stop flights between Sea-Tac Airport and Singapore in 2019. This will be the longest flight available through Sea-Tac Airport, with a total distance of 8,071 miles. The trip will take the title away from Emirates' flight between Seattle and Dubai, a distance of 7,425 miles.

Resorts World Sentosa stops providing single-use plastic straws at attractions, eateries The Straits Times 29th Oct 2018
As part of an effort to reduce single-use plastics, Resorts World Sentosa's (RWS) attractions and dining establishments stopped providing single-use plastic straws since Oct 1.

WTM 2018: South-east Asia bouncing back TTG 5th Nov 2018
Overall things are looking rosy for south-east Asia – the World Travel & Tourism Council forecasts the region to rank third for growth in 2018