Coronavirus pandemic

Investments in tech, people boost Singapore's resilience amid China-US tussle

Singapore will invest in people to make sure that there is enough tech talent available to contribute to the development of global technology standards.
Singapore will invest in people to make sure that there is enough tech talent available to contribute to the development of global technology standards.PHOTO: ST FILE

Having enough engineers and research and development talent will help Singapore weather the storm whipped up by the rising tensions between the United States and China.

Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan told The Straits Times: "There is still a lot that we can do."

The tussle between the two major powers could see supply chains bifurcate and two different technology standards emerge, resulting in higher running technology costs.

Singapore cannot completely insulate itself from the problems that could follow but it can make itself more resilient through its investments in technology and people and by honouring contracts.

"First, we will continue to invest in infrastructure, whether it is broadband, 4G, 5G and beyond, we make a commitment that we will always stay at or near the leading edge of technology," said Dr Balakrishnan.

Singapore will also invest in people to make sure that there is enough tech talent available to contribute to the development of global technology standards.

"Even in a disrupted and divided world, we must remain an open and reliable and trusted centre for data, for information, for ideas," said Dr Balakrishnan, who is also Foreign Minister.

One golden opportunity lies in data centre operations - with data seen as the new oil in the new digital economy.

"One of our fastest-growing phenomena is data centres. It surprised me because data centres in Singapore cannot be the cheapest in the world," he said.

 
 
 

Yet the Internet majors set them up here on account of Singapore's scruples in honouring contracts, even during the depths of the Covid-19 crisis.

For instance, Singapore does not impound or confiscate anything that belongs to others - be it a company or a country.

"This reputation - openness and trust - puts us in a very good position when the recovery comes," Dr Balakrishnan said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2020, with the headline 'Investments in tech, people boost S'pore's resilience amid China-US tussle'. Print Edition | Subscribe