THE National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Middle East Institute, the organisers of the ‘Meeting the Future Together: Opportunities and Challenges for the Indo-Pacific and the Middle East’ virtual conference had Singapore’s Foreign Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan as one of the key note speakers. He spoke on the topic of The Role of Technology – Building Resilience
through Smart Cities and Cybersecurity.
Let me begin with a central proposition: COVID-19 has not changed history. But it has exposed the pre-existing defects and has accelerated on-going technological, economic, social and strategic tsunamis sweeping across the world. Let me just briefly offer four points.
Responding to Crisis
Firstly, The world last year demonstrated how digitalisation can enable a more nimble and adaptive response to a crisis. As COVID-19 first emerged, our government engineers quickly developed tools to communicate accurate information to the public, through websites like MaskGoWhere, SupportGoWhere, and FluGoWhere and also messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram. Some of these were developed quite literally overnight or within days, with our engineers working around the clock. The ability to provide crucial information from trusted sources made a pivotal difference for the necessary collective response.
We also developed a digital contract tracing tool called TraceTogether, which collects encrypted proximity data using Bluetooth signals. We know that contact tracing is usually a very manual and resource-intensive task but is absolutely critical in battling a pandemic. An efficient contact tracing system can break the chains of transmission by quickly identifying and isolating close contacts of infected persons. TraceTogether has been able to shorten the average time required for contract tracing from 4 days to less than 1.5 days.
Countries in the Middle East have also rolled out applications to address the COVID-19 challenge in your own sectors. For instance, the UAE’s Virtual Doctor for COVID-19 chatbot service. This is an app that helps users deduce if they are at risk of getting the virus. The Saudi Arabia government has launched a digital health passport in January on the mobile app Tawakkalna [ta-wak-kal-na] to indicate an individual’s vaccination status. I think my friends in the UAE and Saudi Arabia will agree with me that these innovations have only been possible because of the steady investment in the digital foundation before the crisis hit, in terms of building the right digital infrastructure, developing the modern capabilities, and most importantly – nurturing talent.
Supporting Economic Recovery
Secondly, Even as we battle the pandemic, leveraging digitalisation can facilitate a more robust economic recovery post pandemic. We must never waste a crisis. This is obvious in the potential of the digital economies in Southeast Asia and in the Middle East. ASEAN is expected to become the fourth largest economy in the world by 2030. Our region’s digital economy is expected to grow six-fold: from about 31 billion US dollars in 2015, to almost 200 billion US dollars by 2025. In the Middle East and North Africa, the e-commerce market is expected to double in size to 48.6 billion US dollars by 2022.
Both regions are also blessed with a high youth dividend and we know that the young people are digital natives. They are not just digital consumers, but they will also be digital producers. They can drive progress in diverse fields like fintech, education, healthcare, logistics, as well as big data and Artificial Intelligence (AI). And even as we take steps towards economic recovery from the pandemic, we need to intensify our efforts in an inclusive manner to equip all citizens with the right skills, education, and mindsets. This is done in several ways, including by building digital literacy through education; enabling access to devices and services especially for disadvantaged people or for people with disabilities; helping micro, small, and medium enterprises with access and expanding their market reach. In Singapore, we have the Smart Nation Initiative; Saudi Arabia has its National Transformations Plan 2020, and there are many others like Smart Dubai and Qatar’s Smart Programme. These strategies will enable us to emerge out of the crisis both stronger and smarter.
Third, Digitalisation needs a safe, secure, and stable cyberspace. As we all go digital and we find ourselves increasingly dependent on ICT networks, we know that we will also be exposed to increased risks and vulnerabilities. Disinformation and conspiracy theories have spawned info-pandemics. Malicious cyber activities will continue to be a clear and present danger, especially if there were a successful attack on Critical Information Infrastructure. Increasingly, ICT infrastructure pervades almost all aspects of our lives: whether in managing smart grids, traffic, civil aviation, utilities, or even our personal devices. Last year, Singapore launched our Safer Cyberspace Masterplan with the aim of going beyond protecting Critical Information Infrastructure, to providing some basic level of cybersecurity for the public. This will ensure that all our citizens have basic awareness of the types of cyber risks, and the sensible measures that we all need to take to better protect themselves. I know Israel has pursued such efforts for quite some time. For instance, it teaches highschoolers encryption tactics and coding under its Gvahim (va-him) programme.
Establishing Common Standards
Fourth, at the international level, we need to establish common standards. There is a need to develop frameworks to promote digital trade across borders. There is an ongoing effort by a group of WTO (World Trade Organisation) members to update global trade rules in order to facilitate this digital trade. Singapore has pursued Digital Economy Agreements with several partners to establish digital trade rules and digital economy collaborations.
In the security sphere, there is a pressing need to build a multilateral, rules-based order in cyberspace. Some good steps have been taken in this direction, to build stronger regional and international frameworks to regulate cybersecurity. For example, the ASEAN Digital Ministers have agreed to establish an ASEAN Computer Emergency Response Team, or CERT information exchange mechanism to foster stronger cooperation among national CERTs. In the Middle East, Oman hosts the ITU-Arab Regional Cybersecurity Center to strengthen regional capacity and to coordinate cybersecurity initiatives in the region. We can build further on this foundation, and even explore inter-regional exchanges of information and best practices, to harden our common defences.
We also need to continue dialogue at the UN to develop international rules and norms for responsible State behaviour in cyberspace. Some progress has already been made through the UN Group of Governmental Experts and Open-Ended Working Group on Cybersecurity. Singapore will continue to support these efforts, including through the Group of Friends on e-Governance and Cybersecurity, and the Group of Friends on Digital Technologies. It is in our common interest to ensure that the full range of Members’ views are taken into account, reflecting the international community in all its diversity.
Digital Cooperation, Digital Recovery
My friends, our journey through the COVID-19 pandemic has not been all gloom. We have also seen unprecedented levels of international cooperation in the fight against the virus. For example, China shared the first genome sequences of COVID-19 through the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data, or GISAID, and they did so early on, which enabled others including Singapore to quickly develop diagnostic test kits and to begin work on treatments and vaccines. As we look forward now towards re-opening safely in the new year, Singapore has also published a digital health certificate utilising blockchain technology. We call this HealthCert to facilitate cross-border verification of COVID-19 test results and vaccine records for international travellers. Several healthcare providers in the region have already adopted this standard, and we hope to work further with other partners to take this forward.
Our journey through COVID-19 has shown that complex, multi-stakeholder partnerships can produce significant results when we are united around a common goal. I believe we can build on this momentum to emerge stronger from the crisis, towards a brighter digital future – because our common digital resilience depends on what each of us does, and how well we work together.
CULTURAL PRODUCTION PRESENTS SOCIETAL ISSUES WEAVED IN A CULTURE-INSPIRED MUSICAL
07 January 2020, Singapore – Having brought to the stage ten successful productions since its debut in 2007, ICN Cultural Production proudly presents ICN 2020 – Nilanka: A Musical. Inspired by the journey of self-discovery that many faces, Nilanka clutches topics revolving around identity and conformity.
Nilanka breathes life to a Batak folklore entitled “Dayang Bandir dan Sandean Raja” from Indonesia’s cultural heritage. The story follows six individuals as they struggle to stay true to themselves while facing seemingly unbreakable societal norms. When their intentions are masked by the realities of their actions, can they still defy what is expected to do what is necessary?
Through their musical adaptation of this legend, ICN Cultural Production hopes to send a message to society and open their eyes to the wonders of Indonesian culture. From captivating music to the meticulously crafted costumes and sets inspired by Batak heritage, Nilanka is bound to be an immersive cultural experience and unforgettable entertainment. Producer of Nilanka, Natasya Adistana says, “Our upcoming show highlights the importance of embracing diversity, not only in ethnicity or religion, but also in character and opinion. Through our student-run production, we wish to inspire the audience to strive for a more inclusive and positive community.”
ICN 2020 – Nilanka: A Musical will be staged at Drama Centre Theatre, National Library Building on Saturday, 8 February 2020 at 2.30pm and 7.30pm. Tickets start from $20 and are available at show.icnmusical.com.
PINTU & ICN present a retelling the Batak folklore ‘Dayang Bandir and Sandean Raja’, Nilanka chronicles the characters’ intertwined journey in fighting for their own purpose.
The musical showcases the aftermath of a civil war in the late nineteenth century that saw the emergence of various family groups of the Batak tribe in North Sumatra.
“PINTU is short for Pelajar Indonesia NTU or Indonesian Student NTU, an organization which consist of Indonesian students currently studying in Nanyang Technological University (NTU) – Singapore. The membership covers all students pursuing a bachelor’s or post graduate degree. PINTU was established on August 17, 2002″
“ICN Cultural Production is an annual musical theatre production that brings a new perspective on Indonesian folklore and history to the Singapore community”
To book tickets and find out more about the musical/cast go to the event’s main page: https://show.icnmusical.com/#
To view the 2020 Title Release go the ICN musical got to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0a0QYFXHT0
Drama Centre Theatre
National Library Building Level 3
100 Victoria Street Singapore 188064
Saturday, 8 February 2020
2:30 pm & 7:30 pm
H.E. James Sinclair
Ambassador of Chile to Singapore
cordially invites to
the official opening of the “Chile’s Heritage on Tour” Exhibition
Guest of Honour Ms Grace Fu
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth
Date: Thursday, 30 May 2019
Time: 18:00 – 20:00 hrs
Venue: Green Pavilion, Botanic Gardens
Dress Code: Business Attire
Please RSVP by Wednesday, 29 May to firstname.lastname@example.org
Fascinating and entertaining insights into Finnish cinema this month when the 2nd Finnish Film Festival starts from 11th to 21st Oct 2018. To see the film programme, video highlights and buy tickets click here.
An interesting watch for high schoolers, law students and those seeking to enjoy a light evening out. “Legally Blonde – The Musical” from New York has a freshness and teenage feel to it.
Maris Fernandes who plays the lead character Elle Woods did justice to her role and the other supporting cast also managed to put up a fun show. The plot centered around how Elle Woods goes to great lengths to win back her boyfriend Warner including following him all the way to Harvard Law School, where her ‘blonde looks’ are seen at odds with the surroundings and other students.
While she is challenged, she is seen creating her space despite her persona looking at odds to the Harvard vibe.
Flurry of colours, great music and dance keeps the audience engaged. It is in Singapore for a short run from 10th – 27th May 2018, it’s an interesting fun watch.
For tickets click here.
MRS Rosa Maria Campos Damico, the wife of the Brazilian Ambassador in Singapore, HE Flavio Soares Damico, welcomed Chef Paulo Machado on 5 April 2018 at the Fullerton Hotel where he conducted a MasterClass for several diplomats’ wives. He shared many interesting insights on South American cuisine as well as how to cook some Brazilian dishes: Caldinho de Feijao and Moqueca as well as a the romantically inspired guava-based dessert called Romeu E Julieta.
He was brought to Singapore by the Brazilian Embassy and The Fullerton Hotel to kick off Fullerton’s More Than Just Acai and Churrasco Brazilian food promotion from 9 to 15 April 2018. According to The Fullerton, Brazilian food has been riding the wave as the next big thing and Chef Paulo, who is also the owner of the Brazilian Food Research and member of the Slow Food Movement showed the ladies why his native ingredients are shaking up the cuisine scene.
The wives of the heads of misisons from Argentina, Colombia, Egypt, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Turkey and Ukraine along with members of the media received cooking tips by the articulate chef (he was first trained as a lawyer).
To taste for yourself these new food sensations Fullerton offers dinner buffets at its Town Restaurant before culminating in a superfoods brunch on Sunday, 15 April 2018.
Exclusive Cooking Class
Chef Paulo is also holding an Exclusive Cooking Class at Fullerton’s The Lighthouse Restaurant on Saturday, 14 April 2018 that is inclusive of a three-course lunch (from
11am to 2pm.
For more details on all of the above click here.
For a short video clip message from Chef Paulo Machado click here
Diplomatic and Consular Corps (DCC) bid goobye to Swiss, Peruvian and Vietnamese Ambassadors
A Farewell Dinner was organised by the Diplomatic and Consular Corps (DCC) in Singapore to honour HE Thomas Kupfer, Ambassador of Switzerland, HE Manuel Gerardo Talavera Espinar, Ambassador of the Republic of Peru and HE Nguyen Tien Minh, Ambassador of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam on 19th March 2018 at the Fullerton Hotel Ballroom. The DCC’s Dean and Ambassador of Poland, Zenon Kosiniak-Kamysz, paid tributes to the three who will be transfered out to other country assignments as they complete their tours of duty here. Each of the three Ambassadors in turn also paid affectionate tribute to the invaluable help they have received from their wives in discharging their duties here and proferred sincere thanks and appreciation for the friendships they have developed with fellow members of the DCC in Singapore.
To view online or download more photos of the event click here.
EASTER is round the corner and as we ready ourselves for a break this coming long weekend, Mrs Natalia Tatarinova, wife of Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Singapore, HE Andrey Tatarinov will have a few more additions to her Easter eggs and postcards collection. She shared how, “In Russia we don’t only hard boil eggs and decorate them in order to exchange with each other on Easter day but we also buy a new decorative egg every year. Most of them are wooden and then hand painted. Some artists take a wooden egg and then weave it over with multi-coloured beads. There are porcelain eggs too!” She also shares some photos of her collection here. Singaporeans were able to get some insights on Easter egg collections last year when there was a Belgium exhibition of Faberge and international eggs at Singapore’s Philatelic Museum.
The Ambassadior’s wife also imparted another tradition related to Easter in Russia: “As for Russian Easter tea, we bake a very rich cake once a year only. The process takes 4 to 5 hours. There are simpler cakes and cookies that can be done quickly. For example, on special occasions we make blini (pancakes) and spread them with jam, whipped cream, boiled condensed milk etc to make a tower. They are very tasty and looks beautiful! One of the photos here shows the Easter cake. We put icing on top and serve with special spread. Two letters written on the cake and postcards – XB – means “Christ resurrected” in Russian. On Easter morning we greet each other with these words. The response from the other person is “Resurrected indeed”. Then we kiss each other three times and exchange eggs.”
Briefings and support for long term gains for the region
ASEAN Chair for 2018, Singapore set up the first ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat held in February in the island-nation. A press release on the event stated that there were fruitful discussions on ASEAN’s priorities for the year ahead. Singapore also in a brief shared with the gathering of the foreign ministers the initiatives under its Chairmanship theme of ‘Resilience’ and ‘Innovation’. In their turn the Ministers expressed their support for ASEAN to articulate its strategic vision amidst the changing geostrategic environment, while remaining committed to the purposes and principles enshrined in the ASEAN Charter and the TAC, as well to the realisation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025.
The Ministers were in agreement on the need for ASEAN Member States to make use of innovation and technology to improve the lives of their people. They also expressed their support for Singapore’s proposal to create an ASEAN Smart Cities Network.
On receiving a briefing from Myanmar on the humanitarian situation in Rakhine State, the Ministers expressed their continued support for Myanmar’s humanitarian relief programme in Rakhine State and welcomed the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre)’s ongoing work with the Myanmar Government-led mechanism to deliver humanitarian assistance to all displaced persons without discrimination. The Minsiters went on to welcome the Arrangement on Return of Displaced Persons from Rakhine State between Myanmar and Bangladesh signed on 23 November 2017.
During the confabulations at The Retreat the attending foreign ministers reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea and recognised the benefits of having the South China Sea as a sea of peace, stability and prosperity. They were all in accord when reinforcing the importance of the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety.
Regarding the situation in the Korean Peninsula, the ministers welcomed the resumption of inter-Korean talks, which they were hopeful would create favourable conditions for further dialogue on the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula; they also strongly urged the DPRK to immediately and fully comply with its obligations under all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. The Foreign Minsiters also reiterated their support for the complete, irreversible and verifiable denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner, called for the exercise of self-restraint, and underscored the importance of creating conditions conducive for constructive dialogue to de-escalate tensions.
To read the full statement by the Chairman of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat, Singapore, 6 February 2018. click here.
Opening Night of Smash the Glass Film Festival
March 1 at 7:00 pm
In celebration of International Women’s Day, the High Commission of Canada in Singapore cordially invites you to the Opening Night of the Smash the Glass Film Festival at The Fullerton Hotel, March 1 at 7:00pm. This event includes a reception, screening of the film Driving with Selvi, and a post-screening discussion with Director Elisa Paloschi, and the film’s protagonist – Selvi.
Opening Night Film Synopsis
Driving with Selvi is an inspirational film about South India’s first female taxi driver. Selvi is a child bride in a violent marriage. One day she escapes, and goes on to become South India’s first female taxi driver. This is the ten year journey of a charming, strong, and courageous young woman who defies all expectations, moving beyond the pain she’s experienced to create a new life.
Along with the Delegation of the European Union to Singapore and the Singapore Committee for UN Women, we are pleased to present the Smash the Glass Film Festival from March 1 – 29, 2018 to showcase and celebrate women’s stories from around the world. Through a series of screenings every Thursday in March, audiences in Singapore will have the chance to view films from Canada, the EU and Singapore that explore themes of empowering women. For more information about the festival, please visit our Facebook page.
We very much hope to see you at the Opening Night of the Smash the Glass Film Festival. As tickets are limited, we would appreciate it if you could RSVP byThursday February 15, 2018 to Paramjit.Kaur@international.gc.ca.
THE PEAK celebrated an evening of cross cultural sharing with the attendance of over 80 ambassadors, high commissioners, senior consular personnel and their partners dressed in their national costumes and key corporate business leaders, at the Shangri-la Hotel, Singapore on 18 January 2018.
This event was co-organized and graced by His Excellency Zenon Kosiniak-Kamysz, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland of Singapore and Dean of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps Singapore.
Highlight of the event was a Polonaise ceremonial dance that engaged some of the 220 attendees of the night within the ballroom. The ball raised more than $31,000 for MILK (Mainly I Love Kids) Fund.
The wives of Singapore’s diplomatic corps congregated at the home of the Indonesian Ambassador in Singapore for their monthly Coffee Morning sessions. Hosted by Ibu Mahaswi Swajaya wife of Ambassador Ngurah Swajaya, the ladies were treated to a slice of Indonesian cultural life when Ibu Swi taught them some Javanese dance steps and traditional food on 18th January 2018.
(Photo Credit: Dharma Wanita Persatuan DWP KBRI Singapura Facebook Page)
Support for Outreach Programme
In the run up to this year’s 18th Ambassador’s Cup on 11th November 2017 members of Singapore’s diplomatic community came out in full force to participate in a charity drive that featured nice music, good food and drinks as well as an auction of beautiful jewellery and artwork donated by staff, diplomats and artists here. Proceeds went towards supporting the Singapore Sailing Club community outreach programe for youths. The lucky draw was a hit too with music by the Fullerton Hotel’s Post Bar band who also had some help from singers from Chile and Brazil. Click here to view or download more photos of the event.
On the Saturday of 28th October 2017, four diplomatic corp teams showed up each led by: Ambassador Tumur Lkhagvadorj (Mongolia), Ambassador Zenon Kosiniak-Kamysz (Poland), Ambassador Nathan Wolf (Mexico) and Ambassador Andy Detaille (Belgium) led what was affectionately called the Kazkastan.
The Mongolia team was made up of diplomats from: Mongolia, Israel, Timor-Leste, Poland and the USA. The Polish team was made up of diplomats from the Polish and French Embassies while the Mexico-led team had diplomats from all over Latin America including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Peru. The Kazkastan included Kazkastan, Russia and Belgium.
The tournament followed the standard FIFA Futsal rules for a Round Robin game and would be scored on a point percentage. All five teams played against each other once, and in the end the team with the best point percentage would be the winner.
Last year the final game was played between the EU team led by Ambassador Michael Pulch against the team from MFA. This year, MFA came out on top with a total of eight points. We would like to congratulate the Team Captain, Mohamed Firdaus and all his teammates: Mohamed Fazuddin, Joash Chong, Nicholas Zheng, Teo Tze Ern, Edgar Pang, Hafizan Ishak and See Chong.
Second place was a point tie of seven between Mexico and Kazakhstan. The goal differential of 6 in favor and 2 against for Mexico, versus 6 in favor 3 against for Kazakhstan, put Mexico in second place and Kazakhstan in third.
It was a great effort by all those present, a special thank you to the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps Ambassador Kosiniak-Kamysz and his PA Jagoda Takahashi for putting this together and making the second edition of the Foreign Affairs Football Cup a reality. Stay tuned for 2018!
RISING 50 FUN RUN
RISING 50 FUN RUN To mark the 50th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations of Indonesia and Singapore, the Indonesian Embassy here with Havelocity is organising the Fun Run with musical performances and food bazaar at the finish line.. All are welcome to register @ S$35 per person. Each successful registration (non-Indonesian) will be awarded a return Ferry Fare Singapore – Batam plus a Massage Package! To register visit: http://risingjubilee.run
ST ANDREWS BALL 2017
ST ANDREWS BALL 2017 at the Shangrila Singapore celebrates the patron saint of Scotland with a seven-course feast, freeflowing drinks, the Ghurka Pipes and Drums, and dancing until the wee small hours to a live band. It’s black tie, ball gowns and a touch of tartan.
For more info: www.standrewssociety.org.sg or www.facebook.com/singstandrews
TUX FOR TAILS INAUGURAL GALA
TUX FOR TAILS INAUGURAL GALA is a benefit gala to raise funds for the SPCA which happens to be the only facility offer free healthcare to needy animals. This is limited to basic treatments and a small capacity. Funds raised will go towards its new clinic at Sungei Tengah. Click here for more info.
MAMA WHITE SNAKE
(24 Nov – 16 Dec)
A hilarious take on the Chinese classic opera Madam White Snake but in English. It promises to be “full of heart, humour and home truths.” This is also the first time, after 30 years, Singaporean Glen Goei returns to the stage in the title role.Tickets available online at SISTIC.
A TROPICAL CHRISTMAS BOTANICAL ART & TEA WORKSHOP
A TROPICAL CHRISTMAS BOTANICAL ART & TEA WORKSHOP is a Christmas-themed botanical art and tea workshop held in the garden terrace of the Pollen Restaurant.
For more info: http://christmaswithin.peatix.com/
HIGH TEA AND HIGH HEELS AT ST REGIS
HIGH TEA AND HIGH HEELS AT ST REGIS is organised by Sun Media the publisher of IN Diplomacy among several other titles that include IndoConnect Magazine for the Indonesian diaspora in Singapore. This fashion show combines the design talents of Singapore jeweller Caratell and Indonesian fashion house NES by Helen Dewi Kirana. A portion of the purchases of the fashion items and cost of tickets (S$150 per guest) also go to a charitable cause. Call Irvina at (65) 97917704.
(15 & 16 Nov 2017)
FINTECH 2017 will have its Keynote Address delivered by Shri Arun Jaitley, Hon’ble Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs of India. He would also deliver the keynote address at the 16TH ASIA PACIFIC SUMMIT on 16 November 2017. The Asia Pacific Summit is an annual meet of global financial institutions being organised by Morgan Stanley. For more information on the Fintech event (on till 17 November 2017) visit: