2 August 2007 - Speech By Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister For Community Development, Youth And Sports And Second Minister For Information, Communications And The Arts At the American Chamber Of Commerce Luncheon Talk, Marriot Hotel.

Speech By Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister For Community Development, Youth And Sports And Second Minister For Information, Communications And The Arts At American Chamber Of Commerce Luncheon Talk on 2 August 2007, Marriot Hotel.

Your Excellency, Mrs P Herbold, US Ambassador to Singapore,
Mr Douglas Miller, President of the American Chamber of Commerce, Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon.

1. I would like to thank the American Chamber of Commerce for the invitation to speak at this luncheon.

2. A tiny red dot with no natural resources will not have many strategic options for survival. In the past 42 years, we have thrived because we have a disciplined, hardworking and innovative population working within an honest, fair, open, meritocratic and competitive system with top-notch, first-class infrastructure. These are the key ingredients for success in the past four decades, and although now the world has changed, with the entry of India, China, the revolution of info-communications, these key ingredients still remain relevant, although our methods and tactics for success will evolve with time.

3. This is the larger context within which Singapore intends to leverage on the ongoing info-communications revolution to open up new markets, provide services, forge new partnership opportunities and build capabilities within our society so that Singapore the little red dot remains relevant to the global economic ecosystem.

4. Let me now sketch the current ICT landscape within Singapore.

Singapore as a Vibrant ICT Hub

5. I am happy to report that Singapore's infocomm industry revenue grew by 20% in 2006 to reach a total of S$45.4 billion, or approximately US$30 billion. In the same year, our infocomm manpower increased by 7.5% from 110,000 to approximately 120,000.

6. In recent international benchmarking studies, we have also done well. Singapore ranked first in Accenture's e-Government 2007 study as well as in the World Economic Forum's Global IT Report in the area of Government Usage and Government Readiness.

7. In the local telecommunications sector, faster speeds and lower prices are being offered to both businesses and end users. Within the span of one year, broadband prices have fallen by as much as 37% while access speeds have steadily climbed up to 100 Mbps. Mobile phone penetration rates have reached 108%, or in other words, more than one mobile phone per user. 3G subscriptions hit above 1 million in April 2007, and 88% of our households here with school-going children currently own computers with access to the Internet.

8. Viewed from a macro perspective, Singapore's infocomm industry is vibrant and witnessing healthy growth. MNCs as well as global businesses have chosen to centre both their regional and global operations here in Singapore have been able to leverage on and to take advantage of the fact that we are well connected and we have a pro-business environment. For example, Credit Suisse and DaimlerChrysler have recently chosen Singapore as the base for their IT nerve centre.

iN2015 Targets

9. Our 10-year ICT masterplan which we call "Intelligent Nation 2015" or "iN twenty-fifteen" was launched in June last year. Our vision is to transform Singapore into "An Intelligent Nation and a Global City, powered by Infocomm". iN2015 programmes will shape the way we work, learn, live and play through the key themes of innovation, integration and internationalisation for every individual and enterprise in Singapore. Singapore aims to be a world leader in adding value to both the economy and society by harnessing infocomm. We aim to double the amount of value-added to the local infocomm industry to S$26 billion (~US$17 billion), triple the amount of local infocomm export revenue to S$60 billion (~US$40 billion), create 80,000 new jobs, achieve a household broadband penetration rate of 90% and ensure that every household with school-going children will own a computer with connections to the Internet.

10. We have set ourselves ambitious targets through iN2015 and committed significant resources to realise this vision. As such, I would like to encourage American companies to take advantage of the myriad opportunities available here. Let me just cite a few of these opportunities.

Singapore's Investment in Infocomm Infrastructure

11. We launched the Wireless@SG programme in December last year. Currently, about 430,000 active users in Singapore enjoy free wireless broadband at more than 3,400 hotspots spread out across the island. We are on track to increase the number of hotspots to over 5,000 by September 2007.

12. On the 'wired' front, the Next Generation National Broadband Network, also known as NGNBN, is targeted to reach 95% of all homes, businesses, schools, hospitals and community organisations by 2012 with speeds of up to 1 Gigabit per second. This network will be capable of supporting bandwidth-intensive applications decades into the future.

13. The increased pervasiveness of online usage and increasingly interconnected international network also require that we remain vigilant against security threats. Singapore views the increasing threat of cyber-terrorism and online crime and fraud very seriously and we have developed various measures to address them in an appropriate and efficient manner. These include the establishment of a National Trust Framework and a National Cyberthreat Monitoring Centre which are part of our Infocomm Security Masterplan. We believe that a secure environment is crucial for web-based businesses, whether you are running Google, Paypal or Cisco Systems, or whether you are a bank or an investment house running a regional or global headquarters in Singapore. We believe our reputation for security and reliability will be a competitive edge for us.

Grooming a Globally Competitive Infocomm Industry

14. Singapore recognises the need for a globally competitive infocomm industry and the need for collaboration with the private sector in order to facilitate the realisation of this vision. Similarly, MNCs also recognise, I hope, the value that local infocomm companies can bring. We have therefore formulated strategic partnership programmes to help link MNCs with local companies to grow mutually beneficial alliances.

15. One example which I can elaborate on is the Infocomm Local Industry Upgrading Programme, or iLIUP. This goes beyond simple matchmaking between Singapore infocomm Local Enterprises (iLEs) and infocomm MNCs, it focuses on forging a strong bond between the partnering enterprises and capitalising in a synergistic way on the strengths that each brings to the table. Companies such as Autodesk, EduComp, McAfee, Thomson Learning and BEA have already been engaging local enterprises, I was told that in just the second quarter this year alone, iLIUP has helped our iLEs develop over 10 new or enhanced solutions which we estimated will generate S$2.1m in revenue.

16. The second programme is the Overseas Development Programme which is our key platform for local infocomm companies to team up with infocomm market leaders such as Microsoft, Sun and Oracle to help bring their products and services to a world-class level. Through this programme, local enterprises like Singapore Computer Systems (SCS) and Systems Access have been able to leverage on the technological capabilities, in order to develop products and business solutions and connections for these world market leaders.

Infocomm in other Key Economic Sectors

17. Beyond the ICT sector, we are also driving infocomm innovation and usage in other key economic sectors in order to create greater opportunities for all.

18. Last year, the Singapore Government committed S$0.5 billion (~US$330 million) to fund Research and Development (R&D) in Interactive Digital Media (IDM) over five years. Through this effort, our vision is to make Singapore a living laboratory and testbed for IDM innovative products, by encouraging industry R&D in Singapore in the development of open access platforms, infrastructure services, standards, delivery channels, devices and applications. This initiative aims to create a broad-based IDM R&D ecosystem by seeding R&D activities in the universities, polytechnics, corporate labs, research institutes, and the applied research and developmental work by industry players, as well as the micro-projects of individuals and start-ups. This is an industry in which sometimes a little project by an individual can change the world so we also got to have money available to help these people.

19. Companies with products, applications or platforms for testbedding can also tap on the IDM Jumpstart and Mentor (i.JAM) initiative which is set up to help some 1,000 IDM start-ups and individuals to develop applications, business models, solutions and services.

20. Our efforts to engage with leading industry players in the IDM space are starting to pay off. EON Reality, one of the world's leading interactive visual content management software providers has picked Singapore as its Asia-Pacific headquarters and R&D centre for business. Linden Labs, the US-based creator of Second Life, is also exploring the establishment of an office in Singapore. In this field, Singapore is positioning ourselves to act as a confluence of talents from different parts of the world, supported by a conducive ecosystem where IDM industries can thrive. I would like therefore to encourage the members of the American Chamber of Commerce interested in IDM R&D, to plug into Singapore, plug into the resources which are available and explore the possibilities.


21. In closing, let me thank all the members of the American Chamber of Commerce who have chosen to invest in Singapore. Many of you have been here for many, many years. I hope these years have been good, fruitful years, based on close relationship, based on trust, synergy and mutual benefit. I am sure that even as new possibilities open in Asia and beyond, and new revolutions in technologies continue to unfold, this relationship that your Chamber has with Singapore as a host will be one that will be even more productive in the years ahead.

22. Thank you.


Last updated on: 13 Mar 2023