Mr Teo Ming Kian, Chairman Telecommunication Authority of Singapore (TAS) Speech - Official Opening of Philips GSM Phones Manufacturing Line

Mr Teo Ming Kian, Chairman
Telecommunication Authority of Singapore (TAS)
Speech - Official Opening of Philips GSM Phones Manufacturing Line
Singapore, 10 June 1997

Mr Simon Roper, General Manager, Philips Consumer Communications;
Mr Victor Loh, Chairman Philips Singapore;
Distinguished guests;
Ladies & gentlemen;

Good Morning.

1. Over the last couple of years, I had the honour of being invited to officiate in several of Philips' events. These events signify Philip's increasing investment and commitment to Singapore. Today, it is my pleasure to be here again to launch Philip's GSM Phone manufacturing line. Let me congratulate Philips Consumer Communications on the official opening of its GSM Phone Factory.

2. Philips is a valued friend of Singapore. It was here since the early 50s, before we attained independence. Since then, it has continued to invest, reinvest and renew its activities in Singapore. Besides an Asia Pacific Headquarters in Singapore, Philips also has one of the largest electronics R&D groups here. Just as Singapore is serving as the hub for the region, Philips' Singapore operations have evolved into a regional nerve centre. There is great parallel in the way we have been developing.

3. It is indeed our pleasure to be able to host this modern telecommunications equipment manufacturing facility in Singapore. The decision to site its Asia Pacific plant here is testimony of Philips' continuing confidence in Singapore - in the capability of its people, their education level, understanding of the technology and ability to support the hi-tech development and manufacturing processes.

4. Telecommunication offers a great market. Half the world's population has yet to place its first phone call. This is especially pertinent in Asia which has two thirds of the world's population. In the Asia Pacific, rapid economic growth and rising incomes have unleashed tremendous demand for pagers, cellular phones and personal computers. In the big markets of India, China and Indonesia, penetration rates of these products are currently only at a fraction of those in the developed economies.

5. The telecommunications market in the Asia Pacific is growing robustly - at a tremendous rate of 113% per year. The subscriber number in Asia Pacific (including Japan) is close to 46 million at end of 1996, similar to the North American market. The mobile phone is no longer just a business tool. It is now a consumer product as well. The region is poised to be the largest cellular market by 1997, presenting vast opportunities for cellular equipment manufacturers.

6. It is no accident that this week, most of the world's telecommunication giants are meeting in Singapore for the Asia Telecoms 97, hosted by TAS. It is a ringing endorsement of the vast opportunities existing in Asia for consumers and suppliers alike.

7. Opportunities will continue to expand as initiatives are being taken to work out Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA) bilaterally or multi-laterally for recognition of type approval and conformance testing. At the APEC forum, member countries will come together this month to set up a framework for development of MRAs. This will eliminate duplication in conformance testing and manufacturers can thus easily bring their products in to the market.

8. Philips fully understands the vast opportunities that are opening up, as well as Singapore's competitive strengths, and is taking full advantage of Singapore's strategic intent to strengthen our world class standing in manufacturing. In February this year, Philips' Consumer Communications launched the SPARK, described as the world's first ?voice-activated? mobile phone, which enables users to make phone calls by simply speaking the name of the party that they wished to call. I am told SPARK would be produced here in this plant. This is a manifestation of how Philips uses its global core competencies to achieve its goal of becoming one of the three manufacturers of consumer telephony by the year 2000.

9. The Government will promote the growth of this industry by improving the key supply side factors. First, in manpower, we will customise programmes to train engineers and skilled workers. The National Science and Technology Board (NSTB) and the Economic Development Board (EDB) and institutions of higher learning have started specialised training programmes to train more engineers and technicians in our own universities and polytechnics in telecommunications, radio frequency (RF) and networking technologies. Three years ago, we started the RF Engineers Development Program (REDP) to address the shortage of RF engineers. I'm happy to say that the program has trained over 300 specialist engineers & technicians over the last 3 years.

10. In addition, the National Science and Technology Plan (NSTP) 2000 includes programmes to foster a general appreciation for science and technology among the young and encourage more locals to enter the R&D profession. We will have more people who are able to master science and technology to support high-tech industries, and have the rigour to think creatively and to innovate new products and processes.

11. Secondly, we have embarked on a major development thrust to build up a strong science and technology base to serve as a treasure trove of know-how and ideas. We have established 14 research institutes and centres, co-funded private sector R&D initiatives and brought in foreign talent to augment the local pool of researchers. In the area of communications, the Institute of Microelectronics (IME) has been involved in RFIC and baseband communications IC design with various industry partners. We have recently launched a seminar series which involve a group of related research institutes to cater to specific cluster of industries. This is an approach taking the perspective and multi-disciplinary needs of the industry, rather than from a relatively narrow technology interests of a single research institute, in our support of the industry.

12. The recently set-up III-V (Ga-As) compound research laboratory at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), is building up capabilities in RFIC/MMIC fabrication and characterisation. The Centre for Wireless Communications (CWC) collaborates with industry in mobile multimedia, smart antenna systems and radio systems development.

13. I encourage Philips Consumer Communications to leverage on the capabilities and facilities available within the tertiary institutions and research institutes and centres. The industry has responded well to our investments in people and capability development in support of the industry. Many telecommunications and networking products companies have been attracted to invest here. Our various agencies here have always been working at emulating the private sector companies like Philips, to be customer oriented. We therefore see this industry response as an endorsement that we are doing right. But we remain open to suggestions and ideas on how we can do better to support you.

14. I look forward to many more such events. Let me congratulate again the management and staff of Philips Consumer Communications on this launch. And I wish you every success in the future. It now gives me great pleasure to declare the Philips Consumer Communications GSM Phones Factory open.

Thank you.