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

Official Opening Ceremony of the 3rd ASEAN Telecommunications and IT Ministers Meeting

HE Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister of Information, Communications and The Arts, Singapore - Welcome Address 3rd ASEAN Telecommunications and IT Ministers Meeting, Shangri-La ...

HE Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister of Information, Communications and The Arts, Singapore - Welcome Address
3rd ASEAN Telecommunications and IT Ministers Meeting, Shangri-La

Singapore, 18 September 2003

Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong
ASEAN Ministers
ASEAN Secretary General, Ong Keng Yong
Distinguished Guests
Ladies And Gentlemen

Singapore is indeed honoured to be hosting the Third ASEAN Telecommunications and IT Ministers Meeting. I would like to thank Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong for gracing this occasion and to welcome ASEAN Telecommunications and IT Ministers and delegation members to Singapore.

Genesis of TELMIN

The TELMIN meeting is a relatively new forum within ASEAN. It was only in 2000 that Pehin Dato Haji Zakaria Sulaiman, Minister of Communications from Brunei Darussalam, first mooted the idea of having an ASEAN Telecoms and IT Ministers Meeting. This took place during an informal breakfast meeting among ASEAN Ministers attending an APEC Telecommunications Ministers Meeting in Cancun, Mexico.

Pehin Zakaria's suggestion was a timely one. The Info-communications Technology (ICT) industry was growing rapidly and making major economic impact globally as well as within ASEAN. ICT was also causing dramatic changes in our economic and social landscape. We had then just begun to be familiar with a new era described as "the Information Age". Because of the transformational role ICT plays in the new knowledge economy, access to ICT or the lack of, has the potential to create fissures along the lines of the information "Haves" and "Have-Nots", a phenomenon that has been referred to as the Digital Divide.

Thanks to Pehin Zakaria's suggestion, the inaugural ASEAN Telecommunications and IT Ministers Meeting, or TELMIN, was held in Kuala Lumpur the following year. Although TELMIN is a relatively new forum, issues such as universal access, market liberalisation, effective regulation of a multi-operator environment, ICT skills development and technology transfer have long been issues of domestic concerns for individual ASEAN Member State.

At the second TELMIN held last year in Manila, the ASEAN Ministers discussed a number of initiatives to leverage on ICT as an enabler of economic growth, and the role ICT could play in promoting intra-ASEAN trade and investment. From the discussion, the Ministers had identified a number of issues that would need to be addressed as an integral part of the process. These issues include eliminating bureaucratic impediments to businesses, fostering pro-business policies on ICT trade and investment, and enhancing the transparency and predictability of regulatory environments within the region.

As we initiate the Third TELMIN, it is timely for us to assess what more can be done to ensure that ICT is effectively harnessed for growth and development within the region. We will also have to focus on skills upgrading for our workforce to meet the challenges of the information age, cyber security to protect our online networks, and the nimbleness of the ASEAN economies to respond to external changes effectively. In brief, our focus must be to devise a strategy to not just bridge the digital divide but to also create and tap the benefits of digital opportunities.

A Tripartite Relationship for Growth

Despite the upheavals since the 1997 regional financial crisis and the weak global demand for electronic products, analysts in the financial sector are projecting that Southeast Asia will enjoy between 4.3% to 4.9% economic growth this year. Notwithstanding the current challenges, ASEAN, with a combined market of more than 500 million people and some 17 percent of the world's population, remains a lucrative market and an attractive region for investments.

To achieve this projected growth, governments, industry and the community all have important roles to play. In this tripartite relationship, governments' role is to ensure the development of pro-business policies and regulations, provide a level playing field on which industry can innovate and compete, and ensure the availability of skilled human capital to sustain growth. In addition, governments are also responsible for instituting a conducive environment within which intellectual property rights and the interests of consumers are duly protected.

Besides the government, industry also has an equally important role to play. Businesses possess the capital and the technology to drive the ICT revolution. Businesses nurturing the hotbed of creativity and entrepreneurship are the actual engines of economic growth. Being close to consumers, they are also constantly in touch with market trends and developments. This makes private sector companies invaluable partners to the government in providing real-time experience and feedback, and serve as an important reality check on the prevailing business climate.

The community is the critical third leg of this tripartite framework. The Internet has revolutionised our lives and has enabled cyber-communities to congregate around common interests or causes. More than ever before, our people are now far more connected with one another within ASEAN as well as with their counterparts in other parts of the world. Information and resources from anywhere in the world away can now be accessed at the click of a mouse. Physical distances and cultural differences are no longer impediments to interaction and knowledge. With increasing connected-ness and broadening horizons online, our consumers are fast becoming more informed and sophisticated ICT users, empowered and ready for the information age.


We are already experiencing the realities of the Information Age. As we strive to bring economic growth and progress to ASEAN, the tri-partite partnership between government, businesses and the community will become even more essential and important. The 3rd ASEAN TELMIN Meeting will provide an opportunity to explore how we can jointly leverage on the potential of ICT to reap the collective benefits for a prosperous, vibrant and connected ASEAN community.