Be aware of scammers impersonating as IMDA officers and report any suspicious calls to the police. Please note that IMDA officers will never call you nor request for your personal information. For scam-related advice, please call the Anti-Scam helpline at 1800-722-6688 or go to

Snapshot of the Infocomm Scene in Singapore

Yeo Cheow Tong, Minister for Communications & Information Technology - Speech Singapore American Business Association (SABA) Dinner, Palo Alto, San Francisco

Yeo Cheow Tong, Minister for Communications & Information Technology - Speech
Singapore American Business Association (SABA) Dinner, Palo Alto, San Francisco
United States of America, 17 July 2000

1. I'm most happy to be here today to meet with you and share some of the recent, exciting developments in Singapore.

2. Let me start off with some economic data. We have recovered nicely from the recent Asian economic crisis. In 1999, we hit 5.4% growth. First quarter growth this year was a strong 9.2%, and the flash estimates for 2Q is 7.7%. We have indeed weathered the recent economic storm well.

3. Our target for the next ten years is 4% to 6% growth. To achieve this, we'll need to go beyond value adding, to value creating -- ie, transform Singapore into a Knowledge Based Economy. This means nurturing new economic sectors, such as info-communications and life sciences, and strengthening capabilities in technology development, market development, innovation and mass customisation. We will also continue to liberalise our market, train and upgrade manpower and nurture entrepreneurial spirit.

4. In the New Economy, Info-communication will play a vital role. My ministry is charged with the development of this sector, so I will focus my remarks on what we are doing to achieve this. The government has been focusing on IT for the past 20 years. In 1990, we formulated and launched the IT2000 Masterplan. It led to the widespread adoption of IT among the population, the growth of a connected government and the aggressive adoption of IT by various industry sectors. It also resulted in the world's first nationwide broadband infrastructure. We now have a successor to IT2000 - Infocomm 21. This blueprint articulates the vision, goal and strategies that would facilitate the development of our infocomm industry over the next five years.

Removing Market Barriers

5. An important component of Infocomm 21 is the removal of barriers in the telecommunication market. This was achieved on 1st April this year, when we completely opened our telecom sector to new players. As of end May 2000, we have issued 106 new licences to facilities and service based providers, of which 98 are new entrants. Among them are MCI Worldcom, which is planning the first Metro Cyberloop in Singapore. This involves cabling buildings with high-speed fibre optic pipes, giving Internet users in this loop increased speed and greater reliability at lower cost when accessing broadband contents.

6. We expect to attract about US$1.8 billion of new telecom-related investments over the next three years, excluding 3G and fixed wireless.


7. This is a key requirement if one wants to be a regional and global business hub. We now have direct high speed Internet connectivity to more than 20 countries, including the United States, Australia, China, Hong Kong, India and Europe. We also have excellent connectivity with the region including Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam. Our aim is to continue enhancing the already excellent connectivity to other countries.

Regional Hub for Broadband Contents and Services

8. With our excellent regional and international connectivity, many international and regional broadband players have found Singapore to be the ideal launch pad to Asia. Recently,,, Microsoft, and RealNetworks from US, Online Media Group from Australia, GigaMedia from Taiwan, AsiaCableTV from China and Korea Thrunet from Korea, have established strategic alliances with IDA to provide innovative broadband contents and services.

9. Another important factor that attracted them, is that the whole of Singapore is wired up through an ATM backbone. We have fibre to the curb and Singaporeans can have broadband access through ADSL or via the cable infrastructure. They are able to use Singapore ONE, our nation-wide broadband network, as a test-bed for their regional and international interactive broadband multimedia applications and services.

10. The Singapore government has also set aside about US$90 million to boost broadband contents and services. This includes lowering the infrastructure and hardware costs for broadband access, and co-sharing the cost of international leased circuits.

Enhancing Quality of Workforce

11. While you can invest huge sums in the latest hardware and technology, you can only compete effectively if you have the right workforce, one with the necessary knowledge, skills and capabilities. Recognising that there is a world-wide shortage of infocomm manpower, Singapore has initiated innovative programmes to attract and develop more knowledge workers for the New Economy. Let me give you some examples. By the end of next year, there will be one PC to every two students in our schools. Our aim is to have 30% of the school curriculum taught using infocomm-related methods. The polytechnics and universities are also ensuring that all their students are IT-proficient, even if they are not majoring in engineering or IT subjects.

12. To increase the infocomm skill levels of our workforce, we started the Strategic Manpower Conversion Programme. This programme helps professionals and workers in non-infocomm fields to take up relevant training to help them enter the infocomm industry.

13. To supplement the supply of local infocomm professionals, we have adopted an open door policy for international talents. The application process for an Employment Pass has been vastly simplified, to make it easier and more attractive for IT professionals to work in Singapore. The aim is to broaden and deepen our infocomm talent base as quickly as possible.

eGovernment - Serving the Public

14. Over the next 3 years, the Singapore government will spend US$900 million (S$1.5 billion) to increase the quantity, quality and integration of on-line services available to its citizens. Already 40% of Singaporeans file their taxes online. We have in place, a "one-stop" website, called eCitizen Centre, with about 130 government services online. We plan to double this number, and enable users to access the services anywhere, any time.

15. To better serve the public in the digital economy, the government is gearing itself to doing things differently. We are prepared to challenge the traditional methods of systems procurement and implementation, to challenge the way we now deliver services to the public, the way we interact with them. The eCitizen Centre will allow us to serve both individuals and corporations more efficiently, without requiring them to step out of their office, without the traditional queues and hassles.


16. These are just some of the many infocomm initiatives that have been developed in Singapore. Infocomm 21 will ensure that Singapore enters smoothly into the digital age. We will exploit infocomm technology extensively to enhance our economic competitiveness and improve our quality of life.

17. In a rapidly changing world, we all have to re-invent ourselves from time to time, in order to remain relevant. In Singapore, we are once again reinventing ourselves, in preparation for the Knowledge-Based Economy. My Ministry and the Infocom Development Authority will be happy to work with any interested parties in making the digital world a better place for all.