Yeo Cheow Tong, Minister for Communications & Information Technology - Speech Opening for eCelebrations Singapore, eFestival Asia and Internet World Asia, Suntec Singapore

Yeo Cheow Tong, Minister for Communications & Information Technology - Speech
Opening for eCelebrations Singapore, eFestival Asia and Internet World Asia, Suntec Singapore
Singapore, 7 March 2001

First, let me extend a welcome to all of you to this combined opening of e-Celebrations Singapore 2001, e-Festival Asia 2001 and Internet World Asia 2001.

Bridging the Digital Divide - Helping Singaporeans Go Online

1 There are some in our community who are afraid of technology, or cannot afford computers, or do not believe that the Internet will make a difference to their lives. For many of them, mindset, income and access to technology are key barriers that prevent them from crossing the digital divide.

2 An e-lifestyle empowers people and bridges lives. I am encouraged by the active partnership between the various groups in our society to help these people bridge the digital divide. It is the power of this partnership that we are celebrating today. E-Celebrations Singapore 2001 showcases the possibilities and excitement of an e-lifestyle. Let us take a look at some of the efforts already underway at bridging this divide.

3 Last year, 2,000 needy families benefited from the PC Re-use Scheme. More than 4,000 union members have taken advantage of the NTUC scheme in which computers can be rented for just $1 a day. Both these schemes include Internet access and training, and have opened the door to an e-lifestyle for thousands of people.

4 The e-Ambassador programme, launched in August last year, involves community, grassroots and self-help groups. The programme is well on its way to recruiting it's targeted 1,200 volunteers for the first year, and 2,500 volunteers by end 2002.

5 While Singaporeans are heavy users of e-Communications as far as Internet instant messaging is concerned, they are not heavy Web users in other areas such as accessing entertainment content on broadband. Our challenge is thus to show them the potential in e-Learning, e-Entertainment and e-Transactions. To this end, IDA, in partnership with the private sector, has reached out to over 400, 000 consumers in the last eight months, through online fairs, road shows and exhibitions. These events equip the participants with the basic know-how to engage in e-Learning, e-Entertainment and e-Transactions.

Highlights of e-Celebrations Singapore 2001

6 Let us now take a look at the highlights of this year's E-Celebrations. Our focus will be on senior citizens, homemakers, workers and the disabled community. The 95 events lined up have been carefully designed to e-power the people. The National Council of Social Service and IDA will present the inaugural Assistive Technology Exhibition in April, which will showcase technology that helps the disabled to use computers and online services.

7 The Multilingual Internet Week, from 26 Mar - 1 April, will address the online needs of the Indian and Malay communities, and help to heighten awareness and encourage the use of online services in Tamil and Malay.

8 Looking ahead, IDA will continue to catalyse the people's transition from mere awareness, to the adoption of the 4Es -- e-Learning, e-Entertainment, e-Communications and e-Transactions. Partnerships with industry and community groups will be crucial in achieving this. This partnership is especially evident in our efforts to accelerate the adoption of E-Business practices.

9 To accelerate the adoption of e-Business amongst local enterprises, the government had launched a $9 million Local Enterprise Computerisation Programme for e-Commerce in November 1998. This programme has already exceeded its target and e-Business-enabled 700 companies. Recently, the Productivity and Standards Board (PSB) reported that 17,000 Small and Medium Enterprises are already doing business online. The e-Business Industry Development Scheme, or eBIDs, launched by IDA and PSB last October has helped to further accelerate e-Business adoption and increase volume of e-Business transactions.

10 All of these efforts must be bearing fruit, as the Economic Intelligence Unit has ranked Singapore's E-Business readiness as number one in Asia and eighth in the world. And the BCG 1999 survey ranks Singapore as among the top 10 countries in Asia Pacific, in terms of consumer on-line spending.

Formation of the National Trust Council

11 But for e-Business to flourish, it is crucial that there is user confidence in online transactions. To create a secure transaction environment, I am pleased to announce the formation of the National Trust Council to look into pertinent issues like trust marks, fraud management and best practices in e-Business.

12 The National Trust Council will be industry-led to ensure that relevant concerns are addressed. It will be chaired by Dr Wang Kai Yuen, Managing Director of Xerox Singapore Software Centre and a Member of Parliament for Bukit Timah GRC, and comprise prominent members from the industry, trade and government.

13 The National Trust Council will implement a National Trust Mark Programme to heighten awareness and accelerate adoption of trust marks amongst both the businesses and consumers. The Council will also support the development of codes of practice and facilitate dispute resolution.

14 Professional bodies will be appointed as Authorised Code Owners (ACOs), to certify businesses with sound e-Business security and privacy practices. Such certification will serve to increase online consumer confidence. The Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) has been appointed the first ACO under this programme.

Trust Certification Fund

15 The National Trust Mark Programme also incorporates a Trust Mark Certification Fund, which will subsidise 50% of the certification fee. We believe these measures will position Singapore as a trusted e-Business hub.

16 Industry and Community group support and collaboration are crucial to our endeavours to e-powering Singaporeans. For those who have given support - I say a big "Thank you". For those who have yet to be a part of this hugely successful collaboration, I call on you to join hands with us today, to help your fellow Singaporeans discover the joys and satisfaction of living the e-lifestyle. I also urge all Singaporeans, to empower themselves with the possibilities an e-lifestyle can offer. Never before in the course of human development has technology been so powerful in connecting people. Let us, as a nation in partnership, bridge the digital divide.

On this note, let the celebrations begin!

Last updated on: 13 Mar 2023