Singapore Update: September 25, 2019

Singapore Update | September 25, 2019
Authors: Riley Smith, Lilibeth Almonte-Arbez, Taylor Dumaine
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

October 3, 2019: ASEAN Ministerial Conference on Cybersecurity Industry-led Breakfast

October 15-16, 2019: ASEAN Ministerial on Agriculture & Forestry Business Mission

October 23-25, 2019: ASEAN Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers Meeting Business Mission

October 29 - November 1, 2019: Singapore International Energy Week

November 17-23, 2019: AEM-TELMIN Digital Economy Roadshow

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Singapore kicks off preparations for general elections with formation of panel for constituencies

As of September 4, 2019, the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) has officially been formed, marking the first step to the next general election. The EBRC reviews constituency boundaries and makes suggestions regarding new group representation constituencies (GRCs) and single member constituencies (SMCs) based on demographic changes.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who has been in power since 2004, has stated that this upcoming election will be the last in which he leads the People’s Action Party (PAP). Therefore, many analysts see this election as an endorsement for the next generation of political leadership. This next generation, popularly referred to as the "fourth-generation leaders," or simply 4G, will represent only the fourth political transition since Singapore's independence in 1959. Consequently, there is much speculation on exactly how this new government will look, and what it means for the political status quo that has been maintained over the last 50 years.

Within the last few years, as a consequence of slowing global economic growth and U.S.-China trade tensions, Singapore has experienced a slowdown in economic growth. While the average economic growth for the city-state since independence is 7.7 percent, growth for 2019 is expected to range from 1.5 percent to 3.5 percent. More about Singapore's economy can be found here. Singapore must come up with solutions to reverse this slowing growth rate, and work to ensure that its economy is open. It was for these reasons that the promotion of Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, a former central banker, to Deputy Prime Minster in April, was seen as a positive move for the future of Singapore. It is likely that DPM Heng will assume the role of Prime Minister upon the departure of PM Lee. More on the April Cabinet shuffle can be found in our analytical update here.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo discusses job creation and not just job losses by technological advancement

During the Singapore Summit Young Societal Leaders Programme on September 18, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo discussed the impact technological advancement has on job creation in Singapore. Much of the focus around Industry 4.0 is on job losses that digitization, AI, and automation can cause, but Minister Teo noted that these same processes create new and different jobs. The jobs that are created through the 4th Industrial Revolution will require different skills, and Mrs. Teo emphasized the need to develop a skilled workforce for the new technologies and business models being developed.

Because technology is ever changing, exactly how the job market will look down the line is not exactly known, thus there is a need to crowdsource understanding and anticipate forthcoming changes. Minister Teo noted that workers should be at the center of Industry 4.0 changes. The Minister has directed attention to key topics for employment, high employment rates, low unemployment rates, sustainable wage growth, and financial security in retirement. It is imperative that policy benefits both business and citizens as the country continues to advance more. The US-ASEAN Business Council will continue to follow policy in regard to job creation and see where U.S. business can engage most effectively.

Singapore and the Philippines ramp up bilateral ties

On September 8-12, Singapore President Halimah Yacob visited the Philippines to mark the 50th anniversary of the two countries’ diplomatic relations.  The state visit capped a steady increase of bilateral trade and investment between the two countries as Singapore aims to help Singapore companies with their internationalization plans. Bilateral trade increased 18.6 percent year on year from 2017 to last year, amounting to US$15.3 billion (S$21.2 billion). Singapore was the Philippines' second largest foreign investor after China and its top Asean investor in 2018, with investments amounting to US$406.2 million (S$560 million). A 15-company business delegation led by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) visited the Philippines in conjunction with the state visit cutting across sectors such as marine shipyard, utilities, logistics, shipping, sustainable urban development, manufacturing, retail, banking and financial services, engineering and construction, general trading and professional services.

The state visit ramped up bilateral ties through the signing of eight bilateral agreements on infrastructure development, agri-tech, water management and electricity supply in rural areas, to arts and culture, data protection, and training people for the next industrial revolution. The signed MOUs include:

  • MOU between Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Commission and the Philippine National Privacy Commission
  • MOU between Temasek Foundation International, and Nanyang Polytechnic International Program, and the Philippine Department of Education for a Design Thinking program on Innovations and Teaching and Learning of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects
  • MOU between Enterprise Singapore the Philippine Department of Agriculture on Agricultural Cooperation and Related Activities
  • MOU between the Skills Future Singapore Agency of the Republic of Singapore, Philippine Department of Trade and Industry, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority on human capital development and rescaling as well as labor skills upgrading
  • MOU between Infrastructure Asia Singapore and Development Bank of the Philippines on knowledge sharing to support infrastructure development
  • MOU between Infrastructure Asia and Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center on assisting Philippine local implementing agencies with the development or implementation of PPP projects
  • MOU between the Public Utilities Board and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System on water management and technology
  • MOU between the Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth and the Philippine National Commission for Culture and the Arts

President Duterte said in a statement that the two countries discussed boosting defense and security ties, as well as trade and investment links. Furthermore, President Halimah said they both hope to make progress on updating the Singapore-Philippines Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement and the expansion of the bilateral Air Transport Agreement, which will increase connectivity and create more opportunities for collaboration and growth. President Halimah also visited Davao City, the hometown of Philippine President Duterte. She is the third head of state to visit Mindanao since Mr. Duterte was elected in 2016, after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indonesian President Joko Widodo in 2017.

 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 

National Affairs
+ Singapore Focusing on Education, Inclusiveness Amid Challenges
+ Singapore starts countdown to elections, forms panel for constituencies

Customs
+ Malaysia to propose new water tariff to Singapore

Defense & Security
+ What’s Behind the Unveiling of Singapore’s New Armored Fighting Vehicle?
+ SAF’s Hunter provides a glimpse into world of unmanned tanks. They could be game changers

Energy
+ Registration Opens for 12th Singapore International Energy Week
+ Charging power still a chicken-and-egg gripe for electric fleets in Singapore

Economics
+ Demand here for tech jobs up in past year: Report

Financial Services
+ Singapore mutual funds charge higher fees than global average: Morningstar
+ Insurance body rolls out new standard form to simplify pre-authorisation of hospital bills
+ E-service to help banks fight trade financing fraud risks
+ Payment firms can tap specialised legal expertise on rules compliance under new plan
+ Consumers could be winners as Singapore shakes up its digital banking sector
+ Panel to oversee interest rate benchmark transition
+ Fintech investments in Singapore nearly quadrupled to US$453m in H1 2019: report
+ Singapore banking set for shake-up as digital banks rules kick off
+ Life insurers to change definitions of critical illnesses

Food & Agriculture
+ Killiney leads $1.7m seed funding for food tech start-up
+ Singapore, Philippine agencies exchange eight MOUs
+ Killiney Group leads $1.7m seed funding in foodtech start-up Hoow Foods
+ BreadTalk plans $80m acquisition of Food Junction
+ Overhaul in food supply chain needed to tackle food waste: Study

Health & Life Sciences
+ WhiteCoat partners Grab to boost digital healthcare delivery
+ German orthopaedic implant maker Syntellix opens first overseas facility in Singapore
+ Team honoured for improved screening programme to assess diabetic eye disease
+ Parliament approves Bill for long-term disability insurance
+ Insurer seeking to recover medical fees Hyflux failed to pay
+ Aier Eye International to make pre-conditional offer for ISEC Healthcare shares
+ Medtech hub opens with support from S'pore's healthcare clusters
+ Putting the ‘app’ in appointment: More opting to teleconsult a doctor


ICT
Iswaran: Governments should resist over-regulation of digital economy
Focus on jobs that technology has created, not on jobs that were lost: Josephine Teo
5G in Singapore: Singtel focusing on collaborative approach to use case development
Trust is key in digital economy, says Iswaran
Singapore, China companies ink 13 digital tech deals
Personal data protection guidelines: Who can and cannot collect NRIC numbers?
Stricter NRIC data collection rules kick in from Sept 1; non-compliance could result in hefty penalties
Singapore is third-most robust data centre market: Report
Data protection penalties in Singapore hits over a million dollars so far in 2019
While aware of cyber-security threats, many here still not adopting defensive practices: Survey
New international association launched to promote use of technology in legal profession
Singapore welcomes all players to test 5G innovations: Iswaran
Singapore ups the ante in chips industry's future
Singapore Appoints Its First Ever Accountability Agent Under the CBPR System

Infrastructure
Keppel DC REIT Plans Equity Fund Raising of S$473.8 Million to Fund Acquisition
As Singapore infrastructure goes underground
Singapore well-positioned to facilitate Asia's infrastructure development and growth: Teo Chee Hean
Remaking Singapore: After Jewel, 5 other big projects set to raise the game

Manufacturing
Singapore to avert technical recession in Q3, but support still warranted: DBS

 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
National Affairs

Singapore Focusing on Education, Inclusiveness Amid Challenges Bloomberg 20th Sep 2019
Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said the city-state is focusing on education and forging an inclusive society in the face of global trends such as widening inequality and political polarization. The nation of 5.6 million people has been stepping up efforts to address inequality, exacerbated by technological advancement. It’s investing more in education, especially for preschoolers, and also encouraging lifelong learning.

Singapore starts countdown to elections, forms panel for constituencies Reuters 4th Sep 2019
Singapore’s next general election could be just months away, with the government announcing on Wednesday that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had formed a panel to review electoral boundaries, an initial step towards calling a vote. Lee, the son of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, has held power since 2004 and is widely expected to step down after elections that must take place by early 2021. The impending elections come as Singapore slashed its full-year economic growth forecast with global conditions worsening. Data last month confirmed Singapore’s slowest growth rate in a decade amid mounting fears of recession in the wealthy city-state.

Customs

Malaysia to propose new water tariff to Singapore Nikkei Asian Review 20th Sep 2019
Malaysia will submit a revised price for raw water sales to Singapore, as Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's government pushes ahead with its effort to change the terms of a half-century-long agreement between the neighbors. The proposed change to the 1962 Johore River Water Agreement has been a point of contention between Malaysia and Singapore, due to differing interpretations of the price-revision period in the pact. Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Mahathir have agreed to submit the dispute to arbitration if discussions reach an impasse.

Defense & Security

What’s Behind the Unveiling of Singapore’s New Armored Fighting Vehicle? The Diplomat 13th Aug 2019
The Hunter AFV represents a significant boost relative to the Ultra 113 AFVs, and Singapore’s defense ministry (MINDEF) has noted some of the ways in which this is the case, including increased speed and operating range, enhanced, lethality, enhanced C4 and network capabilities, enhanced survivability and mobility, full digitization, potential integration with other unmanned platforms as well. And when it was commissioned, Singapore’s Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen had suggested that this significant capability would be put on show for Singaporeans at national day celebrations this year, which occur as Singapore commemorates its bicentennial as well.

SAF’s Hunter provides a glimpse into world of unmanned tanks. They could be game changers TODAYonline 12th Aug 2019
Fifty years after AMX-13 light tanks first appeared at the National Day Parade (NDP), the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) showcased its newest armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) called the Hunter at this year’s parade. The three 29.5-tonne vehicles which can carry three crew members and eight other soldiers stood out among the 171 vehicles in the Mobile Column as they cruised past President Halimah Yacob and the audience with their roof hatches shut and no one visible. The crew’s no-show was deliberate. And the symbolism goes beyond simply demonstrating the Hunter’s ability to fight with hatches closed. To some observers, seeing the Hunter move with no crew in sight reminds one that the AFV can operate unmanned.

Energy

Registration Opens for 12th Singapore International Energy Week Eco-Business 14th Aug 2019
Registration for the 12th Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) 2019 is now open. Organised by the Energy Market Authority, SIEW’s week-long programme of co-located conferences and exhibitions will bring together global energy thought leaders to discuss this year’s theme, “Accelerating Energy Transformation”. Minister for Trade & Industry Chan Chun Sing will deliver the SIEW Opening Remarks. At the Singapore Energy Summit, top energy leaders from the government, industry and academia will share their insights on key topics including Transformation, Electrification and Digitalisation.

Charging power still a chicken-and-egg gripe for electric fleets in Singapore AsiaOne 13th Aug 2019
The total cost of ownership for EVs may also yield more favourable economics for commercial fleet owners that have higher-intensity operations with light vehicles or lorries ..., the Bain report says. Despite plans to drive pollutive petrol and diesel cars into history, electric vehicles (EVs) have still struggled to lose their training wheels. The relative paucity of charging points has been held up as a "critical gap" in Singapore's electric road map.

Economics

Demand here for tech jobs up in past year: Report The Straits Times 24th Aug 2019
Demand for technology jobs in Singapore rose by 20 per cent in the past 12 months, the Salary Benchmark 2019 report released recently by recruiting firm Michael Page shows. In particular, the report noted high demand in Singapore for specialised e-commerce, digital marketing and data science talent, but a shortage of supply. The report said the highest-paid roles in the technology sector included chief technology officer, with an average monthly salary of $22,000, followed by IT director or head of IT security at $18,000.
 
Financial Services

Singapore mutual funds charge higher fees than global average: Morningstar The Straits Times 18th Sep 2019
Investors of mutual funds in Singapore pay higher fees than those in other markets, because the majority of funds in the city-state charge front loads and trail commission, according to a study by Morningstar. This makes Singapore a less investor-friendly market in terms of fees and expenses, based on the investment research firm's Global Investor Experience (GIE) report published on Wednesday (Sept 18). A mutual fund is a professionally managed investment fund for retail or institutional investors in stocks, bonds, or other securities.

Insurance body rolls out new standard form to simplify pre-authorisation of hospital bills The Straits Times 6th Sep 2019
The Life Insurance Association, Singapore (LIA Singapore) has introduced a standard form for the pre-authorisation of hospital and surgical bills. This will simplify the process and minimise the administrative burden for doctors, the trade body said on Friday. All Integrated Shield Plan (IP) insurers that offer pre-authorisation services will use the new form starting from Oct 1 this year, and no later than March 31, 2020. The document is to be completed by the policyholder's attending doctor, for purposes of the pre-authorisation application and assessment. No action is required of policyholders.

E-service to help banks fight trade financing fraud risks The Straits Times 6th Sep 2019
A new government e-service will help financial institutions address compliance challenges and better assess fraud risks in trade financing. The Trade Finance Compliance (TFC) service on the Networked Trade Platform was created by Singapore Customs, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and financial institutions to counter money laundering and terrorism financing. It will help solve banks' inability to validate the underlying trade and the lack of reliable data to conduct price checks for non-commodity goods, Singapore Customs said.

Payment firms can tap specialised legal expertise on rules compliance under new plan The Straits Times 6th Sep 2019
he Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL) have rolled out a payments regulatory evaluation programme to help connect the payments industry with legal service providers. The programme provides fintech firms with a streamlined process to gain access to lawyers specialising in payment services regulations to meet their compliance needs. The firms would be assured that the regulatory assessment conducted by the legal service provider will be sufficiently comprehensive in scope, said the MAS and SAL in a joint media statement issued on Friday. Interested payment firms can participate in the programme by contacting a participating law firm of their choice. For a start, seven local and international law firms in Singapore will participate in a two-month pilot run of the programme. Following the pilot, MAS and SAL will take in feedback and make adjustments to the programme if necessary.

Consumers could be winners as Singapore shakes up its digital banking sector CNBC 2nd Sep 2019
Singapore is about to shake up its banking sector for the first time in two decades — a move that would allow technology players and non-banking companies to challenge traditional lenders. The disruption could be a win-win situation for consumers, according to marketing information services company J.D. Power. The Monetary Authority of Singapore on Thursday said it will now accept applications for five new digital bank licenses until the end of the year. MAS, both a regulator and the central bank of Singapore, announced in June that virtual bank licenses will be issued as part of "Singapore's banking liberalization journey." The regulator will distribute up to two digital full bank licenses, which will allow non-banking entities to take deposits from retail customers. It also plans to issue up to three digital wholesale bank licenses for companies to serve small and medium-sized businesses and other non-retail segments. Applicants have to meet a number of eligibility criteria, which includes showing they can manage a sustainable digital banking business and demonstrating experience in the technology or e-commerce sectors.

Panel to oversee interest rate benchmark transition The Straits Times 31st Aug 2019
A steering committee has been set up to oversee a major change in the benchmark interest rate. The committee will be chaired by OCBC Bank chief executive Samuel Tsien and comprise senior representatives from key banks, industry associations and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). It will manage a move from the Singapore dollar Swap Offer Rate (SOR) to the Singapore Overnight Rate Average (Sora).

Fintech investments in Singapore nearly quadrupled to US$453m in H1 2019: report The Business Times 15th Aug 2019
FINTECH investments in Singapore nearly quadrupled to US$453 million in the first half this year, up from US$118 million in the year-ago period - placing the country as the third largest fintech market by funds in Asia-Pacific, just behind China and India. This is according to the latest research by Accenture, which analysed data from CB Insights, a global venture-finance data and analytics firm. In particular, the number of deals closed in Singapore rose by 55 per cent to 48, up from 31 in the first half of 2018. About 28 per cent of the total funds raised in the period went to insurtechs, while fintech companies in payments took 27 per cent, and those in lending took 25 per cent, the data showed.

Singapore banking set for shake-up as digital banks rules kick off Reuters 23rd Sep 2019
Singapore kicked off the application process for up to five new digital bank licences and issued detailed guidelines for potential contenders, which could include Southeast Asian ride-hailing firm Grab and Singapore Telecommunications (STEL.SI). Asia’s non-banking firms have been keen to challenge traditional banks by leveraging their technology and user databases to offer banking services to retail customers and small businesses. “The new digital bank licences, which will be extended to non-bank players, will ensure that Singapore’s banking sector continues to be resilient, competitive and vibrant,” the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in a statement on Thursday.

Life insurers to change definitions of critical illnesses The Straits Times 29th Aug 2019
People buying life insurance polices from Aug 26 next year will notice changes to the definitions of critical illnesses, which may impact how policyholders are covered by the insurers. For instance, "Deafness (Loss of Hearing)" has been amended to "Deafness (Irreversible Loss of Hearing)", with the term "irreversible" defined to recognise the possibility of future medical treatments that can restore hearing to some level as medical advances are made. Making the announcement on Thursday (Aug 29), the Life Insurance Association Singapore (LIA Singapore) said claims assessment and benefits will follow the definitions, and the terms and conditions stated in their existing policy contracts

Food & Agriculture

Killiney leads $1.7m seed funding for food tech start-up The Straits Times 10th Sep 2019
Food tech start-up Hoow Foods has raised $1.7 million in seed funding led by local food and beverage heritage brand Killiney Group, it said yesterday. Other backers include Innovate 360, Singapore's first government-backed food incubator, and Trive Ventures. Hoow Foods was incorporated last year by four engineers and scientists from the National University of Singapore. The team specialises in food reformulation, and has successfully reformulated common food products such as coffee and baked goods into healthier versions while retaining their taste and texture.

Singapore, Philippine agencies exchange eight MOUs The Straits Times 10th Sep 2019
Eight agreements were exchanged between Singapore and Philippine agencies yesterday. The memorandums of understanding (MOUs) covered areas such as water resource, agri-trade, agri-tech, skills training and education, and emerging areas such as smart city infrastructure and data protection. The signed agreements were exchanged at the Malacanang Palace and witnessed by President Halimah Yacob and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. The exchange also marked Singapore's first data protection-related MOU with a data protection authority in Asean. Singapore's Personal Data Protection Commission will be working with the Philippines' National Privacy Commission to cooperate on issues such as the mutual exchange of information and assistance in joint investigations, the development of compatible mechanisms to facilitate cross-border data flows and the exploration of the use of sandboxes to test innovative data-sharing ideas.

Killiney Group leads $1.7m seed funding in foodtech start-up Hoow Foods The Straits Times 9th Sep 2019
Foodtech start-up Hoow Foods has raised $1.7 million in seed funding led by local food and beverage heritage brand Killiney Group, it said on Monday (Sept 9). Other backers include Innovate360, Singapore's first government-backed food incubator, and Trive Ventures. Hoow Foods was incorporated last year by four engineers and scientists from the National University of Singapore. The team specialises in food reformulation, and has successfully reformulated common food products such as coffee and baked goods into healthier versions, while retaining their taste and texture. One of Hoow Foods' first innovations is a line of premium ice creams that contain less than a third of the calories, fat and sugar served in Ben & Jerry's or Häagen-Dazs ice cream. They hit the shelves of FairPrice Finest last year, under the brand Callery's. Hoow Foods is in the process of reformulating a wider range of foods. The seed funding will go towards expanding its research and development capabilities and staff strength.

BreadTalk plans $80m acquisition of Food Junction The Straits Times 3rd Sep 2019
BreadTalk founder George Quek is coming full circle with the food and beverage company's latest move - a proposed complete acquisition of Food Junction, a foodcourt operator he had helped start in 1993. Analysts said BreadTalk Group's plan to buy Food Junction Management for $80 million marks a further consolidation in the foodcourt and coffee shop market as larger firms continue to take out smaller ones in seeking market share and growth. The proposed acquisition will be paid in cash funded through BreadTalk's internal resources, including available cash on hand, and debt facilities, the company said in an announcement on the Singapore Exchange yesterday.

Overhaul in food supply chain needed to tackle food waste: Study The Straits Times 27th Aug 2019
Tackling the food waste issue requires an overhaul in the food supply chain, with surplus on the shelves donated or sold at a discount at food banks, and food that may otherwise end up in the bin reintroduced as useful by-products, a new study has suggested. The study by non-profit Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and consultancy firm Deloitte Singapore found that a "circular economy for food" is one way for Singapore to cut its food waste - a problem that is estimated to cost the Republic $2.54 billion worth of food annually. Among the suggestions, farmers could consider turning perishables such as fruit and vegetables into longer-lasting products, such as jam, or using technology so there is less wastage, for example, from eggs breaking.

Health & Life Sciences

WhiteCoat partners Grab to boost digital healthcare delivery The Business Times 27th Aug 2019
DIGITAL healthcare provider WhiteCoat has partnered Grab to bolster its medication delivery services via GrabExpress – the ride-hailing firm’s courier and parcel delivery service. This is in a bid to provide better healthcare support, as the partnership allows patients of WhiteCoat to receive their prescribed medication within 90 minutes after consulting a doctor via its mobile app, compared with the current average of three hours. WhiteCoat CEO and co-founder Bryan Koh said: "Our collaboration with Grab will boost our capabilities by providing expedited medication delivery to patients, so that they are able to obtain timely medical attention." According to the statement, WhiteCoat’s collaboration with GrabExpress is in line with Grab’s vision to support local tech companies in Singapore.

German orthopaedic implant maker Syntellix opens first overseas facility in Singapore The Straits Times 10th Sep 2019
Syntellix, a German medical technology company that introduced bioabsorbable bone implants, opened a production site in Singapore on Tuesday (Sept 10), its first facility outside its home country. The Magnezix implants, which are made from a patented magnesium alloy, dissolve completely in the bone, Syntellix said in a statement. Unlike conventional metal implants, the patient does not have to undergo a second surgery to remove the implants as they are converted into bone tissue which aid the healing process.

Team honoured for improved screening programme to assess diabetic eye disease The Straits Times 5th Sep 2019
Investment in research and innovation is one of Singapore's key strategies in enabling transformation in healthcare, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong. Mr Gan told an awards event on Thursday (Sept 5) that the healthcare system has to transform to meet the population's changing needs and ensure that appropriate and affordable care is available for Singaporeans while being sustainable in the long term. His remarks were exemplified by the range of healthcare professionals honored for their innovative thinking at the National Medical Excellence Awards.

Parliament approves Bill for long-term disability insurance The Straits Times 3rd Sep 2019
Long-term disability insurance will become compulsory for people born from 1980 onwards, after a Bill to that effect was passed in Parliament yesterday. This move plugs another gap in Singapore's healthcare and ageing support. In 2015, MediShield Life was made compulsory to provide universal health coverage. Older people were then offered support through the Pioneer and, later, Merdeka Generation packages. With an eye on the future, the CareShield Life and Long Term Care Bill was passed yesterday.

Insurer seeking to recover medical fees Hyflux failed to pay The Straits Times 27th Aug 2019
Raffles Health Insurance is reportedly taking action to recover medical fees that embattled water treatment firm Hyflux failed to pay it for staff medical treatment. The issue arose after Hyflux stopped making prompt payment for employee healthcare early last year. While Raffles Health Insurance failed to receive payment from Hyflux, it continued to pay its panel clinics for services they provided to the company's staff. The arrears are not large in most cases - up to $700 or so for each clinic.

Aier Eye International to make pre-conditional offer for ISEC Healthcare shares The Business Times 26th Aug 2019
CATALIST-LISTED ISEC Healthcare said on Monday evening that Aier Eye International has agreed to buy about 186.3 million ISEC Healthcare shares in a sale and purchase agreement which, when completed, will trigger a mandatory general offer for the remaining shares at the same price. Aier Eye International, a direct wholly owned subsidiary of Aier Eye Hospital Group which is incorporated in China, on Monday entered into the conditional sale and purchase agreement to purchase the shares at S$0.36 apiece in a deal valued at S$67.1 million. The agreement will be completed on the fifth business day after the last pre-condition is fulfilled, at which point Aier Eye International will own 35 per cent of ISEC Healthcare's total number of issued shares.

Medtech hub opens with support from S'pore's healthcare clusters The Business Times 19th Aug 2019
A NEW hub connecting startups, organisations and professionals in the healthcare industry opened its doors to the community on Monday. The medtech hub, Catalyst, aims to quicken and improve the development of products and services that prevent or cure diseases. It is supported by healthcare clusters SingHealth and the National Healthcare Group, and innovation and enterprise office the National Health Innovation Centre. The third healthcare cluster, National University Health System (NUHS), is in talks to come onboard as a partner as well. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation initiative, officiated the opening ceremony.

Putting the ‘app’ in appointment: More opting to teleconsult a doctor The Straits Times 8th Sep 2019
If you are feeling under the weather, getting well again is as easy as picking up the phone to teleconsult a doctor and having medication delivered straight to your doorstep. More people are saying goodbye to long queues at the clinic, opting instead for medical care from the convenience of their home, office, or even on the train. The draw is the quick and convenient service that lets patients skip the commute and the queue at the clinic, said companies that provide telemedicine services.

ICT

Iswaran: Governments should resist over-regulation of digital economy The Straits Times 22nd Sep 2019
Singapore has unveiled several initiatives with the aim to drive innovation in the region and speed up patent applications in key emerging technologies, such as finech, cybersecurity, and robotics. It has also inked agreements with countries such as the UK and Brazil to identify potential collaboration in the areas of intellectual property (IP) and patent work. These efforts are geared towards boosting the city-state's role as a hub to facilitate technological work and fuel economic growth for Singapore as well as the region, said the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) in a statementWednesday.

Focus on jobs that technology has created, not on jobs that were lost: Josephine Teo The Straits Times 19th Sep 2019
When it comes to the 4th Industrial Revolution, marked by digitisation, robots and artificial intelligence, there is an "obsession" with trying to estimate the scale of the impact on jobs, particularly job losses. But even as jobs disappear, new ones appear and existing jobs change as well, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo on Wednesday (Sept 18). "It is important to pay attention to job creation, even as we think about and pay attention to the jobs that are being lost, because that's really where the hope lies," she stressed at a welcome dinner for the Singapore Summit Young Societal Leaders Programme.

5G in Singapore: Singtel focusing on collaborative approach to use case development RCR Wireless News 18th Sep 2019
The 5G Garage provides innovation hub for Singtel and partners AS 5G in Singapore takes shape, the state telecoms regulator has mapped a plan to provide spectrum allocations in support of at least two standalone 5G networks set to launch in 2020. For more on the national plan and local operator M1’s approach to 5G, click here. Singtel, which is primarily owned by the state’s investment arm, has gained learnings from elsewhere in its service provider footprint and is laser-focused on creating an ecosystem of stakeholders to define use cases that will be relevant to consumers and businesses in the city-state.

Trust is key in digital economy, says Iswaran The Straits Times 18th Sep 2019
With Singapore on track to becoming a Smart Nation and Asean digital capital, opportunities in the digital economy abound for broader and deeper collaboration with American technology companies, said Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran yesterday. Establishing trust between governments, businesses and consumers for cross-border data flows will be crucial in this respect, he added.

Singapore, China companies ink 13 digital tech deals The Straits Times 27th Aug 2019
Singapore and Chinese companies yesterday inked 13 deals to cooperate on using digital technologies in education, manufacturing and telecommunications at the annual Smart China Expo in the south-western Chinese city of Chongqing. These include incorporating advanced technologies, such as augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence, in a new learning system for pre-schools, as well as developing analytic solutions for smart manufacturing.

IT sector best performer on SGX with 29.8% total return for first 7 months The Straits Times 27th Aug 2019
Singapore's information technology (IT) sector was the best performing sector on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) for the first seven months of 2019, generating a total return of 29.8 per cent. In July, the sector saw a total return of 1.3 per cent but saw a net outflow of $57.6 million, according to SGX's media statement on Tuesday (Aug 27). The five largest IT plays with the highest dividend indicated yields are CSE Global at 6.5 per cent, Sunningdale Technology at 6.2 per cent, Venture Corp at 6.1 per cent, GP Industries at 6.1 per cent and UMS Holdings at 5.8 per cent. Indicated yield is the dividend yield on a stock if its most recent dividend is annualized.

Personal data protection guidelines: Who can and cannot collect NRIC numbers? The Straits Times 26th Aug 2019
From Sunday (Sept 1), organisations will be legally barred from collecting, using or disclosing NRIC numbers or making copies of the identity card, under new and stricter rules enforced by Singapore's privacy watchdog, the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC). First announced in August last year, the rules are designed to protect the personal data of Singaporeans.

Stricter NRIC data collection rules kick in from Sept 1; non-compliance could result in hefty penalties The Straits Times 26th Aug 2019
Companies have less than a week to comply with stricter rules by Singapore's privacy watchdog governing the use, collection and disclosure of the NRIC and other national identification numbers. In a release on Monday (Aug 26), the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) reminded organisations that unless required by the law, from Sept 1, it will be illegal for organisations to physically hold on to an individual's NRIC and collect its full number. This applies to birth certificate numbers, foreign identification numbers and work permit numbers as well. The commission had announced changes to the NRIC advisory guidelines last year as a result of established practices that involved the rampant use of the NRIC.

Guide to help small accounting firms go digital The Straits Times 23rd Aug 2019
Within a year of local accountancy firm Nexia TS launching in 2017 a cloud-based accounting platform that lets clients upload documents digitally, the firm found that it has helped raise productivity and reduce mistakes. It has also freed up the employees to spend more time on other activities that add more value. To help small and medium-sized practices (SMPs) in Singapore's accountancy sector adopt technology for greater productivity and competitiveness, a step-by-step guide has been launched.

Pioneer batch of NSF cyber specialists graduates The Straits Times 23rd Aug 2019
Fifty-six full-time national servicemen from the pioneer batch of cyber specialists graduated yesterday. The Cyber NSF Scheme received its first intake last December, and the NSFs underwent a 35-week course at the Cyber Defence School at Stagmont Camp in Choa Chu Kang. The course started out with 59 NSFs.

Singapore is third-most robust data centre market: Report The Straits Times 20th Aug 2019
Singapore is the third-most robust data centre market in the world and the most developed in South-east Asia, a report said yesterday. It said the country jumped four spots from seventh place in 2017 to third, while retaining the top spot in the region. The index identifies factors, such as connectivity, ease of doing business, political stability, corporate tax rates, natural disasters, energy and security, that are likely to affect data centre operations.

AI a hot topic at SPH's inaugural Tech Day The Straits Times 20th Aug 2019
From the automated transcription of voice recordings, to the creation of a platform for combating fake news, to the use of sentiment analysis to predict if a news story will go viral, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) has tapped various tech innovations to transform its newsrooms. At the inaugural SPH Tech Day yesterday where these innovations were presented, SPH chief executive Ng Yat Chung said that they are indicative of how the company is well on its way to "transforming ourselves from a newspaper company into a leading media organisation in the digital age".

Data protection penalties in Singapore hits over a million dollars so far in 2019 Singapore Business Review 11th Sep 2019
Singapore has seen a 47% increase in the number of data investigations since 2017 handing out over one and a half million dollars in fines, affecting companies from almost every industry A recent notification from the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) of Singapore outlined a number of penalties incurred by six Singaporean companies for breaching the Personal Data Protection Act. Financial penalties ranged from $5,000 to $1m and were caused by a number of infractions including not having a Data Protection Officer to the unauthorised disclosure of clients’ personal data.

Singapore speeds up processing time for tech patent application Singapore Business Review 11th Sep 2019
The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) announced a series of initiatives in support of ASEAN Industry 4.0 and signed six MOUs during the IP Week @ SG 2019 conference. IPOS announced in a press release that Singapore and eight other ASEAN IP offices will prioritise patent applications in fintech, cybersecurity, and robotics, with a pilot project of two years that began 27 August. Through this initiative, applicants can enjoy a turnaround time of six months for the first office action under the new ASEAN Patent Examination Cooperation Acceleration for Industry 4.0 Infrastructure and Manufacturing (ASPEC-AIM) initiative.

While aware of cyber-security threats, many here still not adopting defensive practices: Survey The Straits Times 11th Sep 2019
A nationwide study by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) has found that while nearly half of its respondents had experienced a cyber-security incident and that awareness of its dangers are high, some are complacent. In the release of the third edition of the annual Cybersecurity Public Awareness Survey on Wednesday (Sept 11), CSA said 48 per cent of the 1,105 respondents had experienced at least one cyber incident in 2018.

New international association launched to promote use of technology in legal profession The Straits Times 5th Sep 2019
The Asia-Pacific Legal Innovation and Technology Association (Alita) is the first organization in the Asia-Pacific to promote collaborations and information sharing in the legal technology sector. The new organization was launched during TechLaw.Fest. The conference also highlighted not only how lawyers can benefit from increasing their use of technology, but also how the law must adapt to fit the change technology brings about. Sir Tim Berners-Lee stated in his keynote address that "Technology and policy must always be developed together. If you develop one without the other, that's where you're going to have a lot of trouble."

Singapore welcomes all players to test 5G innovations: Iswaran The Straits Times 21st Aug 2019
Ahead of the country's planned 5G network roll out next year, Singapore's Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran last month encouraged companies to partner with the Government to not only base their 5G operations, but try experimental uses of 5G networks. Minister Iswaran stated during his trip to US tech companies in San Fransisco that he was "encouraged that tech companies [in Silicon Valley], big and small, remain optimistic about the sector's prospects and expressed keen interest to work with Singapore, in particular for 5G."

Singapore ups the ante in chips industry's future The Business Times 14th Aug 2019
Singapore will still be a hotspot for the semiconductor industry, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat has said - in spite of a chipmaking decline that saw the economy grind to a halt in the second quarter. Noting that new technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and 5G bode well for chip demand, Mr Heng, who is also the finance minister, said that "Singapore is well positioned to meet the rise in long-term global demand" for semiconductor chips.

Arrival cards go digital for foreigners entering Singapore Connected to India 14th Aug 2019
Foreigners entering Singapore will be able to fill in an electronic arrival card instead of the paper-based version used so far. The Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) has been conducting a trial for digital arrival cards since October 2018. The ICA has announced that the trial will be extended with the launch of the beta version of the “SG Arrival Card” e-Service on the ICA website and mobile application. 

Cryptocurrency industry seeks feedback on code of practice The Straits Times 14th Aug 2019
The association of Cryptocurrency Enterprises and Startups, Singapore (Access) is seeking public feedback for its newly developed draft code of practice. The code standardises the approach to tackling anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism, and other issues relevant to crypto asset and blockchain companies. These are the key considerations for the licensing and regulation of digital payment services providers here.

Singapore Appoints Its First Ever Accountability Agent Under the CBPR System The National Law Review 12th Aug 2019
On July 23, 2019, APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) issued a press release announcing Singapore’s appointment of the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) as its accountability agent. Singapore joined the APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) system in March 2018 and is the third economy after the United States and Japan to operationalize the system.

Look into the black box of AI behind surge pricing The Straits Times 12th Aug 2019
The Singapore Parliament's passage of the Bill that would empower the Public Transport Council (PTC) to regulate fares of ride-hailing operators is a step in the right direction. But more steps in that direction are needed. Because ride-hailing operators use artificial intelligence (AI) in their pricing, the regulations need to go beyond mere transparency to look at the factors that the ride-hailing platforms use in their AI to determine the level of surge in their pricing.

Infrastructure

Keppel DC REIT Plans Equity Fund Raising of S$473.8 Million to Fund Acquisition Morningstar 15th Sep 2019
Keppel DC REIT (AJBU.SG) said it is planning an equity fund raising of 473.8 million Singapore dollars (US$345 million) to finance a data center acquisition in Singapore.

As Singapore infrastructure goes underground The Business Times 15th Aug 2019
IT is estimated that by 2050, 70 per cent of the world's population will live in urban spaces, creating more megacities with limited space, facilities, and supporting infrastructure. Underground spaces are becoming an increasingly viable solution to this urban challenge.

Singapore well-positioned to facilitate Asia's infrastructure development and growth: Teo Chee Hean The Straits Times 15th Aug 2019
Harnessing Asia's collective expertise and collaborations between private players, governments and multilateral banks would allow the region to overcome development hurdles and meet its significant infrastructure needs. This would be key to Asia's success, and Singapore is able to provide a platform for Asia's infrastructure development and help unlock the region's potential, said Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean on Thursday (Aug 15).

Remaking Singapore: After Jewel, 5 other big projects set to raise the game CNA 8th Aug 2019
In his National Day message on Thursday (Aug 8), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke of Jewel Changi Airport as "just one of the many things we are doing to remake our city".  Other projects include Changi Airport Terminal 5, Tuas Megaport, the Jurong Lake District, the redevelopment of Paya Lebar Airbase and the Greater Southern Waterfront.  “All these projects will keep us busy, and create new opportunities for Singaporeans for decades to come,” said Mr Lee.

Manufacturing

Singapore to avert technical recession in Q3, but support still warranted: DBS The Straits Times 23rd Sep 2019
Singapore's economy is expected to avert a technical recession in the third quarter this year, thanks to a mild improvement in the manufacturing sector, though support is still warranted, according to a latest report by DBS Group Research. According to DBS analysts, Singapore's economy will likely register a growth of 0.4 per cent year on year, and a growth of 2.1 per cent year on year in Q3 2019, based on a seasonally adjusted annual rate