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Telecom Asia Reader's Choice Award for Best Asian Communications Minister of the Year

Yeo Cheow Tong, Minister for Communications & Information Technology - Speech Telecom Asia/Communicasia Gala Dinner, Ritz-Carlton Millenia

Yeo Cheow Tong, Minister for Communications & Information Technology - Speech
Telecom Asia/Communicasia Gala Dinner, Ritz-Carlton Millenia

Singapore, 19 June 2001

I am indeed very honoured and privileged to have been voted the Best Asian Communications Minister of the Year and I thank the readers of Telecom Asia for giving me this honour.

2 This award essentially recognises the collective achievements of Singapore in the field of communications in recent years. It would be very easy for me, as the Minister for Communications and Information Technology, to claim ownership of these achievements. But the truth is, our recent rapid journey represents the contributions of many people, in my ministry and in the Infocomm Development Authority. The last two years have been both tumultuous and exciting. Recognising that we were rapidly losing ground in the competitive regional and global telecoms arena, we made the drastic policy decision to immediately open up the sector to full competition two years ahead of schedule. That was the easy part. The difficult part was to facilitate the progress of new entrants as they navigated through the minefields of competition and interconnect. This resulted in the Competition Codes and the Reference Interconnect Offer. In the end, that all parties have to varying degrees, been unhappy with my staff shows we have succeeded in taking a fair approach. I must therefore thank and commend all the staff for helping to lay the strong foundations for our liberalised telecoms sector.

3 While the public sector lays the groundwork for the telecoms sector, it is the private sector that is the engine of growth and the main driver of progress. And the industry has responded well to our decision to liberalise the telecoms market. We have awarded licences to over 200 telecoms companies, including many world class players within the last year. These companies have contributed to the robustness of our telecoms industry and I would like to thank them for having faith in our regulatory framework, business environment and Infocomm infrastructure.

4 I hope that the strong partnership that exists between Government and industry in the telecoms sector will continue to grow to the benefit of all parties as Singapore charts a new course for Infocomm growth. While we will continue to promote the development of fixed line infrastructure, we are now aggressively exploring the opportunities that wireless technologies present. Our aim is to develop Singapore into a wireless technology test-bed and a launch pad for wireless developments in Asia and the rest of the world. And wireless activities are growing rapidly here in Singapore with many companies, including Siemens, Ericsson, NEC, Hewlett Packard and WapWorkz already conducting R&D and wireless trials here. These companies are all supported by our "Wired with Wireless" programme which we launched in October 2000. This programme aims to seed the development of a vibrant wireless ecosystem in Asia and jumpstart the wireless industry in Singapore. Earlier today, under this programme, we staged an International Advisory Roundtable and invited many wireless luminaries to discuss the future of wireless communications and plot the strategic development of the wireless industry in Asia.

5 So while the past year has been very exciting for me as Communications Minister, the years ahead look equally exhilarating. I would like to assure industry that the government will continue to partner them in their efforts to grow their business in Singapore and in the region. With that, let me end by once again, thanking you all for the award of Best Asian Communications Minister of the Year. I wish you all success in the years ahead.