Singapore Update: June 11, 2019

Singapore Update | June 11, 2019
Authors: Lilibeth Almonte-Arbez, Sarina Divan, Kim Yaeger

 
 

THE COUNCIL'S TAKE

 
 

US-China Trade War Affecting Growth in Singapore

The escalating US-China trade war poses a threat to Singapore’s economic growth. Unlike other Asian economies that serve as low-cost manufacturing alternatives to firms looking to move operations out of China, economists warn that export-dependent Singapore will experience a blow to its trade and GDP. The trade war is expected to reduce Singapore’s shipping volumes and increase uncertainty for companies. Sectors that rely on exports, such as transportation and storage, wholesale, and retail, will feel these effects the most. In the first quarter of 2019, Singapore saw its lowest growth rate in nearly a decade, at 1.2 percent. The results of Q1 prompted Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) to reduce its full-year growth forecast from 1.5 to 3.5 percent to 1.5 to 2.5 percent. The Singapore dollar is also one of several Asian currencies to take a hit amidst the trade war. In May, the Singapore dollar slipped by about 1% and is expected to further weaken to 1.40 per US dollar. Government officials in Singapore are cognizant of the how both the regional and global economies are negatively affected by the US-China trade war and are working to ensure that the Republic’s business environment remains competitive and continues to grow. The main concern, voiced by Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing and MTI permanent secretary Gabriel Lim, is the impact of the trade war on investments and consumer confidence.

Singapore Government to Award ICT Contracts Worth Up to S$2.7B in FY2019

In May, the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech) announced that the government would award info-communications and technology (ICT) contracts worth an estimated procurement value between $1.8 billion (S$2.5 billion) and $1.95 billion (S$2.7 billion) in FY2019. According to GovTech, small and medium enterprises can participate in over 80 percent of the ICT contracts. GovTech also worked with the Ministry of Finance to streamline and develop new procurement methods for these ICT contracts in order to improve the procurement process. Further, in June 2018, the Digital Government Blueprint outlined digital transformation goals for the Singapore government to accomplish by 2023. To meet these goals, over 60 percent of FY2019’s total ICT contract value will go towards developing services on five key technology platforms: the Singapore Government Technology Stack, the National Digital Identity, the Smart Nation Sensor Platform, Moments of Life, and the Adaptive Digital Workplace. Under the National Digital Identity, GovTech also announced a new service called SG-Verify, which will be introduced by Q3 of FY2019 and allow businesses to perform secure identity verification and data transfer by scanning QR codes. Citizens and businesses in Singapore are increasingly satisfied with the government’s digital service, and the government plans to continue leveraging technology to improve public services.

Singapore Hosts 2019 Shangri-La Dialogue

From May 31 to June 2, Asian ministers, policy makers, and security experts convened in Singapore for the 2019 Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s premier defense summit hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. As predicted, the ongoing US-China trade war and competition was the focus the summit, given its important ramifications for Asian nations. The United States sent U.S. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to the summit, who spoke on the new U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy and emphasized the importance of alliances and partnerships to building security in the Indo-Pacific. Shanahan also reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the Indo-Pacific region, with over 370,000 U.S. service members training and working across the region, and encouraged partner nations to invest more in their own security.

China sent Minister of Defense General Wei Fenghe, marking the first time in nearly a decade that a Chinese senior official has attended the event. Wei reasserted China’s strength, discouraging foreign intervention in Taiwan and indirectly criticizing the United States’ unilateralism and withdrawal from international treaties and organizations. Though Acting Secretary Shanahan and General Wei’s speeches highlighted the growing tensions between the two countries, the two also met privately on the sidelines of the summit, which both sides called “constructive.”

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivered a keynote speech to open the summit, stressing the importance of cooperation between the U.S. and China for regional security, despite the profound lack of trust between the two countries. Lee also encouraged other countries to accept the rise of China, while urging China to follow international laws and frameworks as it exercises its global influence. Lee’s speech emphasized the importance of small states, such as Singapore, as a mediating force in current geopolitics. Like Singapore, many Asian nations have strong ties with both the U.S. and China, but these ties become vulnerable if they are forced to side with one country. 

 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 

Multilateral Trade Agreements
PM Lee to stress importance of stable US-China ties at Shangri-La Dialogue
Singapore prepared for fallout from US-China trade war: DPM Heng
Singapore growth downgraded as trade war threatens economy, business
Singapore must prepare to deal with US-China trade war fallout: Chan Chun Sing

Regional Affairs
Asean should seize opportunities to work on common platforms amid US-China dispute: Chan Chun Sing
PH, Japan sign $5.5B business deals
Singapore keen on boosting collaboration in food security, agriculture and aquaculture
Navy Chief Introductory Visit Puts Brunei-Singapore Relations Into Focus
Singapore leaders offer condolences to Malaysian King over his father's death

National Affairs
New stations, line extensions planned for Singapore’s rail network

ASEAN
Southeast Asia faces more trade obstacles after slow Q1 growth

Customs
Singapore affirms commitment to building on ties with Vietnam, Cambodia
Southeast Asian nations chase high expectations for their bloc

Defense & Security
France's Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier arrives in Singapore
Shangri-La Dialogue: Beijing, netizens praise PM Lee's 'objective analysis' of Sino-US ties
Singapore, US reaffirm bilateral defence relations, agree to renew MOU
Asia Minute: China and Singapore to Increase Joint Military Exercises
What's in the New China-Singapore Deepening Military Ties Talk?
Singapore, China to boost defence cooperation, engage in larger military exercises

Economics
Singapore’s factory activity shrinks for first time since 2016
Growth in Singapore's services sector revenue eases again in Q1 to 3.6%
Singapore factory output defies forecast of another drop with 0.1% uptick in April
Singapore's core inflation eases again in April; overall consumer prices up slightly
No more tax reforms to make it out of 17th Congress | BusinessWorld
Singapore Dollar Is Slipping as Trade War Chips at Monetary Band

Energy
Shell raises oil storage capacity at Singapore Bukom refinery
PUB to deploy Singapore's first large-scale floating solar panel system by 2021
Singapore’s road to electric mobility: What’s the hold-up?
Getting Smart about Energy Grid 2.0
Keppel saves $55m, thanks to energy efficiency
EMA strikes energy solutions partnerships worth $12m with PSA and Shell
Lights out for five Singapore power retailers amid fierce competition
Singapore turns on another large-scale solar roof installation
10 years in, industry takes the lead in advancing green buildings in Singapore
Yes, you can power your phone with food scraps
Poultry waste-to-energy power plant to open in Singapore
The future of sustainable energy in Singapore

Financial Services
Ascendas-Singbridge, IMDA and ESG unveil co-innovation lab
Chart of the Day: Singapore's life insurance take-up still far ahead of Malaysia
Chart of the Day: Banks' fixed deposit rates to maintain sustained easing
New business premiums in life insurance up 1% to $937.2m in Q1

Food & Agriculture
From sky farms to lab-grown shrimp, Singapore eyes food future

ICT
Singapore to offer secure identity verification service for companies by Q3
Singapore government to award up to S$2.7b worth of ICT contracts by March 2020
Tharman calls for innovations in every sphere to reduce trade-off between growth and sustainability
Hong Kong and Singapore strengthen ties in personal data protection
Singapore FinTech Association launches RegTech sub-committee
Over three-fourths of firms fall prey to financial crime: study
Government to grant ICT contracts to businesses
Is Singapore's fake news law too powerful or not enough?
Singapore firms are global leaders in smart buildings, workspace innovation: Poll
How Singapore is bringing the legal industry into the digital age
Use technology to help people with special needs integrate as part of Smart Nation push: President Halimah
How should personal data be used and shared by firms? New rules on data protection up for review
The Future of Work: Building robots to rule the world? No, the field of AI is more than that — and less scary

Infrastructure
New MRT line for northeast S’pore will benefit underserved areas: Analysts
What Singapore got right in urban mobility
The Future is Underground
Singapore transport has an electric future with a hybrid twist
Malaysia and Singapore to suspend cross-border rail project 

Travel & Tourism
8 countries, including Singapore, issue travel advisories following Jakarta riots
Asia’s largest cruise ship begins Singapore leg
Targeting younger passengers, offering diverse experiences key to cruise industry's growth: Experts

 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Multilateral Trade Agreements

PM Lee to stress importance of stable US-China ties at Shangri-La Dialogue TODAYonline 29th May 2019
Amid a tense trade tussle between the United States and China, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is set to stress the importance of “stable and constructive” ties between the two superpowers for regional security as he opens a high-level forum here on Friday (May 31). Mr Lee will open the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual security summit, where he will also talk about how small states such as Singapore can navigate the present geopolitical shifts, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) said in a statement on Monday.

Singapore prepared for fallout from US-China trade war: DPM Heng The Straits Times 28th May 2019
Singapore is prepared for the negative consequences of the US-China trade war, but the country must step up its transformation of the economy if it is to deal with the fallout, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Tuesday (May 28). Mr Heng said the US-China trade war was not an issue that could be resolved immediately, and that both the Singapore economy and the global economy were going to be affected negatively. The Republic's growth in the first three months of the year was not only slower than forecast, but it was also the slowest quarter growth in nearly a decade. "The main thing that we must do is to ensure that we transform our economy at an even faster pace, because besides the trade war, we are also going to be faced with very rapid changes in technology," [Heng] said.

Singapore growth downgraded as trade war threatens economy, business The Business Times 22nd May 2019
Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) downgraded its full-year growth forecast to 1.5 to 2.5 per cent after the results of just one quarter, from an earlier 1.5 to 3.5 per cent. This confirmed what many companies predicted earlier, with many hit by uncertainties from the US-China trade war, a slowdown in China, and the fading of the global tech electronics cycle. This comes as the Singapore economy saw growth of 1.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2019 - the lowest growth rate in almost 10 years. MTI permanent secretary Gabriel Lim noted that the direct impact of the trade tensions on the Singapore economy has been "modest" so far, but echoed past sentiment from government officials that their bigger worry is how it will affect business investments and consumer confidence.

Singapore must prepare to deal with US-China trade war fallout: Chan Chun Sing CNA 14th May 2019
Singapore must be prepared to deal with fallout from the US-China trade dispute, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on Tuesday (May 14), amid worsening tensions between Washington and Beijing. Mr Chan warned that while some businesses may benefit from the disruption in trade in the near term, worsening trade tensions will hurt global business and consumer confidence as many countries depend on a global system underpinned by stable US-China relations. Mr Chan said it is important that Singapore gets its fundamentals right by ensuring the business environment and workers’ skills remain competitive, amid ongoing disruptions. "We can further distinguish ourselves by being the connector across different systems and standards. We will continue to promote integration, not fragmentation," Mr Chan said.

Regional Affairs

Asean should seize opportunities to work on common platforms amid US-China dispute: Chan Chun Sing The Straits Times 4th Jun 2019
As the US and China grapple with their long-term challenges and trade tensions, Asean should continue to forge partnerships, work together to build common platforms and grasp new opportunities in the digital space, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said on Tuesday (June 4). Asked by Singapore Business Federation (SBF) chief executive Ho Meng Kit about the longer-term outcome of the US-China dispute and how Asean should respond, Mr Chan said the regional grouping should continue to ensure there is an open and transparent set of rules enabling all countries to work together.

PH, Japan sign $5.5B business deals Manila Bulletin News 29th May 2019
President Duterte thanked Japanese businessmen for their intention to expand operations in the Philippines as the two countries inked 26 business deals worth $5.5 billion Wednesday... The President in turn assured Japanese businessmen a competitive and corruption-free business climate, and a highly-skilled and fast-learning workforce.

Singapore keen on boosting collaboration in food security, agriculture and aquaculture Borneo Bulletin 10th Jun 2019
Food security, agriculture and aquaculture are areas with potential for further collaboration between Brunei Darussalam and the Republic of Singapore. In a recent interview, Singapore's Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs stressed the importance of collaboration between the two countries and their private sectors to ensure food security and future development.

Navy Chief Introductory Visit Puts Brunei-Singapore Relations Into Focus The Diplomat 22nd May 2019
This week, Brunei’s new naval chief paid his introductory visit to Singapore in his current capacity. The visit placed the focus on the defense side of the relationship between the two Southeast Asian states amid wider domestic and regional change. The meetings were an opportunity for both sides to reaffirm and review the state of their longstanding defense collaboration, in addition to discussions of mutual issues of concern and potential areas for strengthening ties.

Singapore leaders offer condolences to Malaysian King over his father's death Channel News Asia 24th May 2019
President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong have extended their condolences to Malaysia's King after the death of his father, former Pahang ruler Sultan Ahmad Shah Al-Musta'in Billah, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a press statement on Friday (May 24). Sultan Ahmad Shah, the father of Malaysian King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, died in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday morning.  He had ascended the throne of Pahang on May 7, 1974, and served as the seventh king of Malaysia from 1979 to 1984. In her letter dated May 23, Mdm Halimah, together with her husband, extended their "sincerest condolences" on behalf of the people of Singapore to the king and the Pahang royal family.

National Affairs

New stations, line extensions planned for Singapore’s rail network CNA 25th May 2019
Accessibility to the rail network is set to be further improved with the extension of some lines and the development of new stations. Among the proposals announced on Saturday (May 25) by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) in its Land Transport Master Plan 2040 (LTMP 2040) is the addition of two new stations on the North-South Line (NSL). Separately, LTA said it will extend the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL), with a station serving the upcoming mega Terminal 5 at Changi Airport. It highlighted that the openings of the new stations will be in tandem with infrastructure developments.

ASEAN

Southeast Asia faces more trade obstacles after slow Q1 growth Nikkei Asian Review 21st May 2019
Southeast Asia saw slower growth in the first quarter of this year, with its six big economies all expanding at a more moderate pace in the January to March period than in the previous three months. With trade tensions between the U.S. and China likely to escalate, the region could face more headwinds in the second quarter. The slower growth may prompt Southeast Asian central banks to reverse course on monetary policy and lower interest rates later this year, economists say. Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam all slowed in the first quarter, the first time that has happened since the U.S.-China trade tensions flared early last year. Many economies in Southeast Asia are export-driven. According to the World Bank, exports accounted for 173% of Singapore's GDP in 2017, 101% for Vietnam, 71% for Malaysia, and 68% for Thailand. With the region's two biggest trading partners -- China and the U.S. -- at loggerheads, export-dependent economies have been hit hard since the second half of 2018. Looking ahead, economists warn of the possibility of further weakness in the second quarter and beyond.

Customs

Singapore affirms commitment to building on ties with Vietnam, Cambodia Customs News 9th Jun 2019
The Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs on June 7 gave explanations of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s remarks relating to Cambodia and Vietnam at the 2019 Shangri-La Dialogue. In his remarks at the Shangri-La Dialogue and on his Facebook page in late May, PM Lee mentioned the so-called Vietnam’s “invasion” and “occupation” of Cambodia in 1979. In response, the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation issued a statement, saying that the Singaporean leader’s remarks are against the revival of the Cambodian people and show that Singapore supports the genocidal regime and wants this regime to return to Cambodia.

Southeast Asian nations chase high expectations for their bloc The Edge Markets 21st May 2019
More than a half-century after five nations came together to form a regional bloc, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is weighing a strong growth outlook with the reality of political and economic change. The now 10-nation group boasts a combined economy that’s bigger than India’s, and is forecast to be the fourth-largest by 2030. It will have three of the seven fastest-growing economies over the next decade, based on Standard Chartered Plc’s projections. Much of that outlook will depend on how nations are able to tackle some key challenges ahead: from infrastructure demands to financial inclusion and surging e-commerce.

Defense & Security

France's Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier arrives in Singapore CNA 28th May 2019
French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle berthed at Changi Naval Base in Singapore on Tuesday (May 28) morning as part of a five-month deployment from its home port in Toulon, France. During its time in Singapore, the French Navy will participate in bilateral exercises with the Singapore army, including an amphibious exercise with the Singapore Navy involving frigates, naval units as well as fighter jets from the Singapore Air Force.

Shangri-La Dialogue: Beijing, netizens praise PM Lee's 'objective analysis' of Sino-US ties The Straits Times 4th Jun 2019
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's speech at the opening of the Shangri-La Dialogue last Friday has struck a chord with the Chinese... PM Lee had spoken about how there was a mutual lack of strategic trust between the US and China. Attitudes in both countries have hardened, but it was in the interests of both sides to reach an accommodation with each other, he said... PM Lee had also mentioned that countries needed to accept the rise of China, which in turn must take on larger global responsibilities.

Singapore, US reaffirm bilateral defence relations, agree to renew MOU CNA 31st May 2019
Singapore and the United States have agreed to renew a defence Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), as the two countries reaffirmed their bilateral defence ties on Friday (May 31). Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen hosted Acting US Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan to breakfast on the sidelines of the 18th Shangri-La Dialogue, during which the two reaffirmed the "excellent and long-standing bilateral defence relations" between Singapore and the United States, according to a Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) news release. The officials also agreed to update the 1990 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the United States Use of Facilities in Singapore, to be renewed by 2020, to incorporate "partnership elements of the US’ national defence strategy recently articulated for this region", according to MINDEF.

Asia Minute: China and Singapore to Increase Joint Military Exercises Hawaii Public Radio 30th May 2019
China and Singapore are updating a defense agreement. And one result is likely to be increased joint military exercises. That word came from Singapore’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday after China’s defense minister met with his Singaporean counterpart. China does take part in some regional exercises — including a drill last fall with ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. A smaller regional set of maneuvers was held in April. But it is unusual for a country close to the United States to engage in bilateral naval exercises with China. Singapore did that in 2015, and will be doing more — although details have yet to be announced.

What's in the New China-Singapore Deepening Military Ties Talk? The Diplomat 30th May 2019
On May 29, Singapore and China officially disclosed that they would move forward on stepping up defense ties through steps that would be formalized through a revised bilateral agreement by the end of this year. While specifics are still being worked out by both sides, the development nonetheless reinforced ongoing efforts to strengthen relations in the security domain even amid continued differences between them that have manifested over the past few years.

Singapore, China to boost defence cooperation, engage in larger military exercises CNA 29th May 2019
Singapore and China have agreed to update a defence agreement that could see them increase the scale of existing military exercises, with new areas of cooperation between troops. The revised Agreement on Defence Exchanges and Security Cooperation (ADESC) is expected to be signed later this year, Singapore’s Defence Ministry (MINDEF) said in a media release on Wednesday (May 29)... When asked about the significance of the proposed agreement given the climate of US-China tensions, Dr Ng said it wasn’t meant to be a “bellwether of anything”. “We’ve always said we want good relations with all countries and what we’re doing with China is no different from what we previously do,” he said in an interview after the meeting.

Economics

Singapore’s factory activity shrinks for first time since 2016 CNA 3rd Jun 2019
Activity in Singapore’s factories contracted in May for the first time in 32 months amid escalating trade tensions between the United States and China, joining a grim manufacturing outlook across Asia. Singapore’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) – which measures manufacturing activity and sentiment – declined 0.4 point from the previous month to 49.9 in May, said the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM) on Monday (Jun 3).

Growth in Singapore's services sector revenue eases again in Q1 to 3.6% The Straits Times 27th May 2019
Growth in the services sector's revenue eased in the first quarter of 2019, according to data from the Department of Statistics (SingStat) on Monday. Overall services' business receipts rose 3.6 per cent in Q1 compared to a year ago, down from 4.1 per cent growth in the last quarter of 2018 and the 7.2 per cent increase in Q3 2018. All the services industries registered higher revenues in Q1, with growth led by the information & communications services industry. It recorded an increase of 7.2 per cent in takings, due mainly to higher receipts from firms engaged in computer programming & consultancy services, and information service activities such as Web hosting and Web portal services.

Singapore factory output defies forecast of another drop with 0.1% uptick in April The Straits Times 24th May 2019
Singapore's factory output staged a small recovery in April after shrinking a revised 4.3 per cent in March, thanks to growth in the volatile biomedical manufacturing cluster and a fightback in semiconductors. Manufacturing output inched up 0.1 per cent in April compared with the same period last year, according to figures released by the Economic Development Board (EDB) on Friday (May 24). This defied the expectations of analysts polled by Bloomberg, who predicted a fall of 3.5 per cent. However, output fell 2.1 per cent when biomedical manufacturing was excluded.

Singapore's core inflation eases again in April; overall consumer prices up slightly The Straits Times 23rd May 2019
Core inflation in Singapore eased again in April as a fall in the cost of electricity and gas and lower food inflation more than offset higher services inflation, according to data released on Thursday (May 23). Core inflation - which strips out private transport and accommodation costs - declined to 1.3 per cent on a year-on-year basis last month, after dipping to 1.4 per cent in March from 1.5 per cent in February. Conversely, overall inflation rose slightly to 0.8 per cent year on year in April, from 0.6 per cent in March and 0.5 per cent in February. For the rest of the year, external sources of inflation are likely to be benign. MAS core inflation is expected to come in near the mid-point of the forecast range of 1-2 per cent this year. Overall inflation is expected to average 0.5 to 1.5 per cent.

No more tax reforms to make it out of 17th Congress | BusinessWorld Business World 20th May 2019
THE SINGAPORE DOLLAR is poised to weaken further as the escalating trade war between the world’s two largest economies weighs down growth in the export-dependent city-state. Poor export data that landed Friday underscore the downward pressure on the currency’s nominal effective exchange rate, which has quietly crept away from the upper end of the band that monetary policy makers use to keep Singapore on an even keel. With no deal in sight between the US and China, revised gross domestic product (GDP) figures due Tuesday are the next thing to watch for clues on the trajectory of the Singapore dollar, which has slipped about 1% this month.

Singapore Dollar Is Slipping as Trade War Chips at Monetary Band Bloomberg 18th May 2019
The Singapore dollar is poised to weaken further as the escalating trade war between the world’s two largest economies weighs down growth in the export-dependent city-state. Poor export data that landed Friday underscore the downward pressure on the currency’s nominal effective exchange rate, which has quietly crept away from the upper end of the band that monetary policy makers use to keep Singapore on an even keel. With no deal in sight between the U.S. and China, revised gross domestic product figures due Tuesday are the next thing to watch for clues on the trajectory of the Singapore dollar, which has slipped about 1% this month.

Energy

Shell raises oil storage capacity at Singapore Bukom refinery Reuters 6th Jun 2019
Royal Dutch Shell has increased the storage capacity at its Bukom refinery in Singapore by nearly 1.3 million barrels by building two crude oil tanks, the company said on Thursday. Shell said the project was part of its ongoing effort to improve competitiveness by investing in storage and logistics at its core refineries. “This project positions Shell to capture stronger margins and better manage market volatility over the coming years,” said Robin Mooldijk, executive vice president for manufacturing at Shell, in a statement.

PUB to deploy Singapore's first large-scale floating solar panel system by 2021 CNA 6th Jun 2019
National water agency PUB said in a press release on Thursday (Jun 6) that it intends to deploy a 50 megawatt-peak (MWp) floating solar photovoltaic (PV) system on Tengeh Reservoir by 2021. According to PUB, the floating Tengeh system will eliminate the need to emit 28,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year that it is in operation - the equivalent to removing 6,000 cars off Singapore's roads. When installed, it will be Singapore’s first single large-scale floating solar PV system, and one of the largest of its kind in the world. PUB first tested the systems at Tengeh Reservoir in 2016.

Singapore’s road to electric mobility: What’s the hold-up? Eco-Business 28th May 2019
At the end of last year, there were only 466 pure electric vehicles out of a total of almost 615,000, up from just 12 EVs in 2016.  “Singapore is the best city in the world to demonstrate full electrification.” There are three key hurdles Singapore still needs to clear, say experts. 1. There simply aren’t enough chargers Firstly, a lack of publicly accessible chargers. 2. Setting standards Singapore is also treading carefully into EV territory because of uncertainty around standards. 3. Ever-evolving global macrotrends Whether the nation’s electricity grid can cope when thousands of drivers charge their cars at the same time each evening. 

Getting Smart about Energy Grid 2.0 Asian Scientist Magazine | Science, technology and medical news updates from Asia 28th May 2019
Helping to take ideas and inventions out the laboratories and into the market are two new consortia: the Smart Grid and Power Electronics Consortium Singapore (SPECS) and the Cooling Energy Science and Technology Singapore (CoolestSG), officially launched at the Energy Grid 2.0 Forum. SPECS Professor Subodh Mhaisalkar highlighted four ‘D’s—decarbonization, decentralization, digitalization and democratization—as global challenges in the sustainable energy space.

Keppel saves $55m, thanks to energy efficiency The Straits Times 28th May 2019
The renovations at Keppel Bay Tower offices last year were not just about smartening up the paintwork, but focused on cutting-edge tech innovations to make the corporation's headquarters far more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable Energy efficiency initiatives implemented across the group last year are estimated to have saved 812,134 gigajoules of energy, or $55 million in cost savings. Keppel Corporation also reduced the intensity of emissions produced by an average of 24 per cent compared with its 2010 baseline.

EMA strikes energy solutions partnerships worth $12m with PSA and Shell The Straits Times 28th May 2019
Singapore's Energy Market Authority (EMA) is partnering PSA Singapore and Shell in partnerships amounting to $12 million to develop local energy solutions and nurture local energy start-ups. The aim is to reduce the ports' overall energy use and carbon emissions by integrating renewable energy sources like solar with smart control networks and energy storage solutions. The grant call will allow industry partners and the research community to co-develop and test-bed energy solutions with PSA Singapore, along with leveraging on its global networks for international market access.

Lights out for five Singapore power retailers amid fierce competition The Business Times 24th May 2019
FIVE players have called it a day in Singapore's retail electricity market for big businesses amid fierce competition triggered by a phased liberalisation of the sector - a process completed only this month, with all residential households in the fold as well. BT understands that the dropouts are Red Dot Power, Energy Supply Solutions, SmartCity Energy, Charis Electric and Sun City. Under Singapore's liberalised energy market, larger businesses that consume 2,000 kilowatt hour (kWh) a month and more can buy power from any one of 22 retailers - or stay with the incumbent and former monopoly SP Services, the market share of which has fallen steadily in the increasingly crowded field of rivals.

Singapore turns on another large-scale solar roof installation Singapore Business Review 23rd May 2019
Over 7,000 PV panels will generate 3.5GW hours of energy enough to power 1,000 three-bedroom HDB flats for a year. Personal care firm Kimberly-Clark Corporation has installed rooftop panels for its Tuas manufacturing facility in one of Singapore’s largest solar energy installations to date, an announcement revealed. A total of 7,730 photovoltaic panels mounted on its roof will generate 3.5GW hours of clean energy, which will be enough to power up 1,000 three-bedroom Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats for a year.

10 years in, industry takes the lead in advancing green buildings in Singapore Eco-Business 23rd May 2019
From this July, professionals who want to be certified in the design and development of green buildings will obtain their qualification from the Singapore Green Building Council (SGBC) rather than from the Building and Construction Authority (BCA). The reason for this change is to motivate professionals to “stay relevant” and up-to-date with changes in technology and design methods, said Lee Ang Seng, managing director of Beca Carter Hollings & Ferner Southeast Asia, who serves on the SGBC board. It also ensures that building industry professionals will continue to push the envelope in retrofitting and developing green buildings that are energy efficient and that have the smallest carbon footprint possible, said SGBC’s Soh.

Yes, you can power your phone with food scraps Verizon 23rd May 2019
When diners at the National University of Singapore’s Raffles Hall toss out their food scraps, they join the vanguard of environmental sustainability. Here’s how the energy is created: The Raffles Hall discarded food scraps are fed through an onsite, anaerobic bio-digester. Once the leftovers are placed in a bin, the automated system works like a biochemical stomach, breaking down organic matter into bio-gas. The bio-gas is then converted into heat and electrical energy that keeps the bio-digester running. That power operates the lights, fans, the control computer, and pumps. Remaining electricity is directed toward an on-campus charging station. The bio-digester also produces a nutrient-dense substance, which can be converted into fertilizer. Waste management is an urgent issue in Singapore.

Poultry waste-to-energy power plant to open in Singapore The Poultry Site 22nd May 2019
Acropower, a subsidiary of Acromec, an engineering firm based in Singapore, has signed an agreement with Chew's Agriculture, a commercial egg producer in Singapore, which will allow Acropower to acquire poultry waste from Chew's Agriculture for it to be converted into biogas. The biogas will then be used to generate electricity.

The future of sustainable energy in Singapore The Business Times 21st May 2019
As part of Singapore’s Smart Nation journey, the city-state has started to implement clean energy initiatives such as the SolarNova programme and is embarking on intensive research and development to increase the contribution of renewable energy to its energy mix.     Dedicated to making sustainable energy more accessible, Geneco offers businesses the option to purchase solar energy generated from solar photovoltaic systems which the company will build, own and operate.  It can additionally help businesses achieve their environmental sustainability goals by facilitating the purchase and retirement of market-based instruments, such as carbon credits and renewable energy certificates. Beyond generating and selling electricity, Geneco's status as an integrated energy expert allows it to share its knowledge to help businesses transit to a low-carbon business model.    Alongside its commitment to make sustainable energy more accessible to people and communities, Geneco’s active involvement in pushing forward related initiatives and discussions has continued to grow the company’s position in the sustainable energy sector, with good success. 

Financial Services

Ascendas-Singbridge, IMDA and ESG unveil co-innovation lab Singapore Business Review 29th May 2019
Ascendas-Singbridge Group (ASB), the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Enterprise Singapore (ESG) have formed a Smart Urban Co-Innovation Lab that will facilitate and support at least 30 co-innovation projects within the next three years. It will focus on building capabilities in the four key areas: intelligent estates, smart mobility, digital wellness, and agritech and will provide a platform for industry players to share problems and collaborate with technology players.

Chart of the Day: Singapore's life insurance take-up still far ahead of Malaysia Singapore Business Review 27th May 2019
Penetration rate in the Lion City is around 250% compared to around 40% in Malaysia. Charts from Maybank Kim Eng display although life insurance take-up has been rising in both Singapore and Malaysia, the Lion City is still significantly ahead of its neighbour with 250% penetration rate in 2018 compared to 40% in Malaysia. There are around 12 million life insurance policies in both Singapore and Malaysia.

Chart of the Day: Banks' fixed deposit rates to maintain sustained easing Singapore Business Review 19th May 2019
The fixed deposit (FD) rates of banks in Singapore is expected to continue moderating in the coming months in a sign that funding pressures may have already peaked, according to a report from CIMB. FD rates have already started to ease in April which bodes well for banks who can expect milder increase in funding costs in a move that is expected to help boost net interest margins. FD rates have already started to ease in April which bodes well for banks who can expect milder increase in funding costs in a move that is expected to help boost net interest margins. 

New business premiums in life insurance up 1% to $937.2m in Q1 Singapore Business Review 9th May 2019
The uptake in annual premium buys offset the decrease in single premium product purchases.The life insurance industry’s new business premiums grew 1% YoY to $937.2m in Q1, data from the Life Insurance Association, Singapore (LIA Singapore) revealed. More Singaporeans have been covered with integrated shield plans (IPs), LIA said. As of end March, Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs) covered by IPs grew 68% to 2.74 million.

Food & Agriculture

From sky farms to lab-grown shrimp, Singapore eyes food future Reuters 30th May 2019
With tiered fish farms, vegetable plots atop office buildings and lab-grown shrimp, the island aims to beef up its own food production and rely less on imports to feed its 5.6 million people.Singapore produces about 10% of its food but as climate change and population growth threatens global food supplies, it aims to raise that to 30% by 2030 under a plan known as ‘30-by-30’. The challenge is space. With only 1% of Singapore’s 724 sq km (280 sq miles) land area devoted to agriculture and production costs higher than the rest of Southeast Asia, the pressure is on new urban farmers to answer the government’s call to “grow more with less”.

ICT

Singapore to offer secure identity verification service for companies by Q3 CNA 28th May 2019
Businesses looking to securely conduct visitor registration or customer acquisition at roadshows will be able to tap on a new service offered by the Singapore Government later this year. Called SG-Verify, the service will allow businesses to perform secure identity verification and data transfer through the scanning of QR codes, said the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) in a press release on Tuesday (May 28). It added that this will be introduced by the third quarter of Financial Year (FY) 2019. SG-Verify was introduced as part of the continuous development of a national digital identity for Singaporeans so they can more securely transact with the Government and businesses. 

Singapore government to award up to S$2.7b worth of ICT contracts by March 2020 The Business Times 28th May 2019
The government will award an estimated S$2.5 billion to S$2.7 billion worth of info-communications and technology (ICT) contracts in FY2019, which lasts from April 2019 to March 2020. Small and medium enterprises will be able to participate in over 80 per cent of the contracts, said Singapore's Government Technology Agency (GovTech). Over 60 per cent of ICT contract value will go towards further developing five platforms that are key to meeting the outcomes of the Digital Government Blueprint, which sets out digital transformation targets for the government to achieve by 2023.

Tharman calls for innovations in every sphere to reduce trade-off between growth and sustainability The Straits Times 9th May 2019
While more and more young people are seized by the green movement, there is a need for countries and companies to act urgently on the grave risks to sustainability, Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam said yesterday. The window is closing fast before there is irreversible damage in living standards for future generations and loss of animal and natural life on the planet. In his opening address at an international sustainability symposium yesterday, Mr Tharman urged countries and companies to invest in innovations that are more energy efficient and less destructive to the environment.

Hong Kong and Singapore strengthen ties in personal data protection Singapore Business Review 31st May 2019
The two nations will do joint research projects and cross-share experiences and best practices. Hong Kong’s and Singapore’s data protection authorities signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to engage in collaborations involving personal data protection in the two jurisdictions, an announcement revealed. Under the MOU, the Hong Kong SAR’s Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) and Singapore’s Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PDPC) will initiate in the cross-sharing of experiences...

Singapore FinTech Association launches RegTech sub-committee Singapore Business Review 31st May 2019
It aims to promote and adopt technologies to overcome regulatory challenges. The Singapore FinTech Association (SFA) has launched the SFA RegTech Sub-Committee which aims to promote the invention and adoption of technologies to overcome regulatory challenges in Singapore, an announcement revealed. The RegTech Sub-Committee is chaired by Chionh Chye Kit, CEO & co-founder of anti-money laundering (AML) software provider Cynopsis Solutions and Traceto.io.

Over three-fourths of firms fall prey to financial crime: study Singapore Business Review 29th May 2019
Companies now plan to spend on average 46% more to adopt technologies to counter it. About 82% of Singapore companies have surveyed that they’ve been victims of financial crimes over the past 12 months, which has led to 69% of them adopting technologies to counter it, according to a study by financial markets data and infrastructure provider Refinitiv.

Government to grant ICT contracts to businesses Singapore Business Review 28th May 2019
The government will grant a series of information and communication technology (ICT) contracts throughout the year, in which over 80% of the contract value will be for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), according to Government Technology Agency. Of the total contract value, 60% will be allotted to five digital platforms, which are Singapore Government Technology Stack (SGTS), National Digital Identity (NDI), Smart Nation Sensor Platform (SNSP), Moments of Life (MOL), and Adaptive Digital Workplace (ADWP) for public officers.

Is Singapore's fake news law too powerful or not enough? The Straits Times 26th May 2019
When I first read reports about the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma), my initial reaction was negative. Why is the Government introducing laws that give already powerful Cabinet ministers even more power? Under Pofma, a minister can issue a correction or take-down order for online falsehoods that he or she deems to be against the public interest. The party receiving such an order can appeal to the minister to cancel or vary the order; and if this fails, the party can go to court to challenge the order.

Singapore firms are global leaders in smart buildings, workspace innovation: Poll The Straits Times 23rd May 2019
Singapore companies are well ahead of those in other countries in installing smart building initiatives for their workspaces, and also show more awareness of digitalisation, cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to a study by London-headquartered office software firm Condeco. Such progress might be thanks to the city-state's Smart Nation programme launched in 2017, as Singapore leads a number of indicators for office technology, Condeco said.

How Singapore is bringing the legal industry into the digital age Singapore Business Review 23rd May 2019
Legaltech innovations are now moving beyond document generation solutions towards blockchain application. When the Ministry of Law, Law Society of Singapore, Enterprise Singapore and the Infocomm Media Development Authority launched a $3.68m funding scheme that allocates funding of up to $130,000 annually for each Singapore law practice, it signified a growing movement to bring the paper-heavy industry into the digital age and help establish Singapore as a legaltech hub.

Use technology to help people with special needs integrate as part of Smart Nation push: President Halimah The Straits Times 23rd May 2019
The Republic should leverage on technology such as virtual simulation systems to better integrate people with special needs, including students, into society, said President Halimah Yacob. Speaking to reporters during a visit on Thursday (May 23) to Metta School, which caters to students from age 7 to 21 who have mild intellectual disability and autism, she said this should be done as part of the country’s Smart Nation push, which is a national effort to support better living using technology.

How should personal data be used and shared by firms? New rules on data protection up for review TODAYonline 23rd May 2019
Personal data is now one of the hottest commodities in 21st century commerce — everything from where people shop, to what they buy, where they take holidays, and who their friends are. Amid the explosion in the commercial harvesting of personal data, the authorities are seeking the public’s views on proposed rules that govern how personal data is shared and used by businesses. This includes a proposed legislative provision which would allow firms to use their customers’ data for “appropriate business purposes” without the customers’ consent.

The Future of Work: Building robots to rule the world? No, the field of AI is more than that — and less scary TODAYonline 23rd May 2019
Robot assassins wiping out humans in the Terminator movies. Humans tapping the "power" of cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology with unforeseen consequences, as depicted in science-fiction series Black Mirror on Netflix. Entertainment media has no lack of fictitious examples to show how gadgets and digital advancements affect daily lives, take away jobs and human independence, alter political outcomes, and perpetuate violence, among other dangers.

Infrastructure

New MRT line for northeast S’pore will benefit underserved areas: Analysts TODAYonline 5th Jun 2019
A new rail line to connect Singapore’s northeast to its south would not only be possible but a step in the right direction, as it would plug gaps in underserved areas and maybe even rekindle talks about a third link to Johor, transport analysts said. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said in its Land Transport Master Plan 2040 on Saturday (May 25), that it is studying the feasibility of a new line that could serve residents in Woodlands, Sembawang, Sengkang, Serangoon North, Whampoa, Kallang and the upcoming Greater Southern Waterfront development. Speaking to reporters at the launch event, Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary said that the master plan represents the Government's commitment “to deliver the idea of 20-minute towns and 45-minute cities”.

What Singapore got right in urban mobility Singapore Business Review 5th Jun 2019
In Asia, Singapore has one of the most efficient and connected transport systems with a McKinsey study ranking the Lion City as having the world’s second best public transport system, trailing only behind Hong Kong . The city-state seems to be unstoppable in continuing to amp up and simplify connectivity across the island after the Land Transport Plan 2040 unveiled by the Land Transport Authority (LTA). The ambitious scheme eyes to make journeys to take no more than 20 minutes for commuters to get to and from one’s home to the nearest neighbourhood centre and 45 minutes or less to complete peak-period journeys between homes and workplaces.

The Future is Underground NST Online 4th Jun 2019
THE future is underground, and I don’t mean the dead,’ these were the parting words of an old friend, Nik Ramly, a veteran town planner, as he shook my hand before leaving for KLIA. He was in Kedah recently for a brief meeting with his clients in Alor Setar. As his flight home to Kuala Lumpur was late in the evening, I asked him to drop by at my place. I promised to send him to the airport at Kepala Batas in time for his flight. We discussed the latest issues in urban planning, but I was especially interested to know about Singapore’s master plan for its underground development. He said that building underground for Singapore “was not an obsession, but a necessity”. The island state has no choice because its population will soon hit the six million mark, and by 2030 its population may very well peak at seven million. It is doing what Hong Kong had done in the past. Hong Kong has a population of seven million.

Singapore transport has an electric future with a hybrid twist The Hindu 2nd Jun 2019
Singapore is famed both for its car-lite approach that discourages ownership of personal vehicles, and the steady expansion of its public transport system over the past three decades. The city state is now working on the next big technological leap that will potentially lead to the roll-out of driverless, fully autonomous buses in partnership with Volvo Buses. The first trials in this race to autonomy are taking place on the smooth macadam of CETRAN, a comprehensive test centre for autonomous vehicles operated by Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore). Here, a Volvo 7900 series electric bus equipped with light detection and ranging sensors (LIDARS), stereo-vision cameras to capture 3D images, and a global navigation satellite system moves along test ‘roads’ with ‘hands-free’ technology in the driver’s seat. It effortlessly turns at curves, and stops at traffic lights.

Malaysia and Singapore to suspend cross-border rail project  Financial Times 21st May 2019
Malaysia and Singapore will suspend the construction of a $1bn cross-border rail link, the latest in a string of revisions to infrastructure projects as Kuala Lumpur seeks to rein in costs of deals negotiated under the previous government.  In a joint statement, ministers from both countries said the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System project linking the city state with the Malaysian city just across the border would be suspended until September 2019 “at Malaysia’s request and in the spirit of bilateral cooperation”. The project had an estimated price tag of around $1bn. 

Travel & Tourism

8 countries, including Singapore, issue travel advisories following Jakarta riots The Straits Times 24th May 2019
A total of eight countries, including Singapore, have reportedly issued a travel advisory for their citizens planning to visit Indonesia following a rally on Wednesday (May 22) that turned into riots in Jakarta over the past two days.

Asia’s largest cruise ship begins Singapore leg The Straits Times 21st May 2019
Asia’s largest cruise ship, Spectrum of the Seas, is on the Singapore leg of its maiden voyage. The 170,000 ton ship owned by Royal Caribbean International can carry more than 5,600 passengers. Royal Caribbean announced a new seven-month home-porting season in Singapore for an existing 4,905-passenger ship, Quantum of the Seas, due to popular demand. From October next year to April 2021, 40 sailings will be offered, making the deployment the longest by a Quantum class ship in South-east Asia. This will add about 180,000 guests to the Singapore cruise scene. The vessel’s maiden call was celebrated on Tuesday (May 21) with an exchange of plaques between Captain Charles Teige, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) chairman Chaly Mah and Sats-Creuers Cruise Services chief executive Lionel Wong.

Targeting younger passengers, offering diverse experiences key to cruise industry's growth: Experts Channel NewsAsia 21st May 2019
Data released by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) revealed that total cruise jumped 35 per cent to 1.87 million in 2018 compared to the year before. But the cruise industry acknowledges it needs to do more to attract  certain segments like millennials and Gen Z in a bid to stay competitive.