Singapore can do much more when it comes to adopting new technology: PM Lee
He says it's an area where Singapore has an edge, outlines vision of how it can improve life here
By Royston Sim, Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 27 Feb 2017
Singaporeans can expect a national digital identity, cashless payments in hawker centres and a transport system that is more responsive to changes in demand in the near future.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sketched out this vision of how he sees technology playing a greater role in improving life here at a recent closed-door dialogue, of which his office released a transcript yesterday.
And there is a lot more that government, businesses and people can do to seize the opportunities new technology creates, he added.
The need to innovate and build strong digital capabilities is a key strategy of the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE), which released its report this month, and the Budget contained several measures to help on this front.
Ministers will elaborate on these plans when Parliament debates the Budget this week and the next.
Implementation will be key, Mr Lee said. Technology is a key focus because, while there are manpower and space constraints, "in terms of ideas, productivity, breakthroughs, the constraint is only what the human mind can come up with, what people can organise and deliver".
Mr Lee's dialogue last Friday with 150 start-up founders and guests from across the Asia-Pacific region was part of Camp Sequoia, an annual tech summit organised by venture capital firm Sequoia Capital India.
He said technology is an area Singapore has an advantage in, as a compact city with high-quality infrastructure and tech-savvy people.
Its Smart Nation Programme Office was set up to spearhead the use of technology and key projects that "will make a big difference to the way Singapore is able to operate". Mr Lee added: "I think personally that, for all our pushing, we really are not moving as fast as we ought to."
He outlined several other projects under way, including a national sensor network that pulls together pictures from cameras monitoring traffic, drains and housing estates into an integrated data source.
As for a national digital ID system, he cited how Estonia has a digital access card for all secure e-services, including national health insurance, bank accounts, making digital signatures and Internet voting.
"There are a lot of things that we can do individually, as a government, as a nation, and also for companies - to be participating, to come here, set up and use Singapore as a place to start up," he said.