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Small countries like Singapore, Switzerland must cooperate in fintech: Swiss Finance Minister

SINGAPORE: Singapore and Switzerland are not competitors when it comes to the development of financial technology (fintech) and with both countries being small financial hubs, it is important to cooperate, said Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer.

Mr Maurer was speaking to Channel NewsAsia after his tour of Lattice80 – a not-for-profit fintech hub located along Robinson Road – on Tuesday (Apr 18). The minister is in Singapore as part of a week-long trip in Asia and was leading a 20-member delegation, which comprised of representatives from the Swiss banking industry.

“It is important to have good relationships and today is a step to network between the two countries… I think it is important that small countries (which) are important financial centres have this network and understand the need to cooperate,” he said.

“We are not competitors (and) we can cooperate together.”

Last year, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (Finma) signed a cooperation agreement to foster greater cooperation on fintech.

Mr Maurer noted that Singapore’s fintech scene is on a “high level” and there are learning points for Switzerland, such as in the case of consumer protection. “We are a little bit not in the same speed like you… but I think we can go step by step.”

The minister also noted that Singapore’s fintech sector benefits from its close proximity to a big Asian market, and can act as a stepping stone into Asia for Swiss fintech start-ups. For Singapore firms looking to expand into Europe, Switzerland can similarly do the same.

Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer listens to a presentation at Lattice80. (Photo: Tang See Kit)

“Singapore’s fintech (sector) is on a high level and we have to learn from you… We can continue this sense of cooperation between Singapore and Switzerland,” Mr Maurer said. 

Lattice80 is one of the organisations that the Swiss delegation is visiting during their time in Singapore. Launched in November 2016, more than 80 foreign and local fintech firms have taken up spaces at Lattice80, which is dubbed the world’s largest fintech hub by Singapore-based private investment group Marvelstone.

Ms Gina Heng, co-founder of Lattice80 and CEO of Marvelstone Group, noted that European start-up founders are among those who have taken up residence at the fintech hub as they view Singapore as the first step for their ventures in Asia.

“They see this as a central location to kick-start their companies. There’s good infrastructure and legal system, with a supportive government. We are also near to many countries which which makes it easier in terms of outreach,” she said.

A report by Deloitte dated September 2016 listed Singapore among the top fintech hubs globally, citing a business-friendly environment, adequate government support and access to expertise.

The report did not rank the 21 fintech hubs that were evaluated. Instead, it assessed the countries based on three main factors –  the Global Innovation index, the Global Financial Centre index and the Doing Business index – and both Singapore and London scored the best score of 10. Switzerland scored 42, coming in behind Silicon Valley, New York and Hong Kong.

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Philippines' defence minister says peace talks with rebels possible

MANILA: Peace talks between the Philippine government and communist rebels to end nearly five decades of conflict are still possible even though the president has ordered “all-out war”, the defence minister said on Tuesday.

President Rodrigo Duterte announced on the weekend the government was scrapping a ceasefire with the New People’s Army saying the “terrorist group” was making “huge”, unacceptable demands despite government concessions.

Clashes have erupted in several places and some top rebels have been arrested but Defence Minister Delfin Lorenzana said talks were possible.

“The president has not actually closed the door to any negotiation,” Lorenzana told a news conference.

“The government is still open to peace talks if it will benefit the Filipino people.”

Duterte, who won an election last year on a vow to wipe out illegal drugs, had raised hopes of bringing an end to the communist insurgency that has stunted development for years, especially in central parts of the Philippines.

A ceasefire was declared in August and last month, the government asked the U.S. State Department to remove the rebel movement’s Netherlands-based founder and leader, Jose Ma. Sison, from its terrorist blacklist to move negotiations forward.

But both sides later traded accusations of truce violations and negotiating in bad faith.

Lorenzana said orders had been issued for the arrest of guerrilla leaders temporarily freed last year to take part in the peace process.

Soldiers intercepted and re-arrested a senior rebel leader on Monday at an army checkpoint in Davao City.

Duterte said he had “walked the extra mile” to bring peace by resuming talks and freeing rebel leaders but his efforts were never reciprocated by the communists who took advantage of the talks to recruit fighters and extort money.

Lorenzana also said construction of U.S. military facilities in the Philippines would go ahead as planned after he had convinced Duterte, who is opposed to a U.S. presence in his country, that the installations were for humanitarian assistance and disaster response, to be used by both countries.

Duterte had accused the United States of stockpiling weapons at Philippine bases, in violation of an agreement. The United States denied doing so.

(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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Singapore can observe International Day of Persons with Disabilities with 'pride': Minister

SINGAPORE: On International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Singapore can observe this special day with “pride”, said Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin in his blogpost on Saturday (Dec 3). 

Mr Tan said that in 2016, Singapore had celebrated the “indomitable spirits and triumphs” of the country’s Paralympians at the Rio Paralympics, and began work on the third Enabling Masterplan – a five-year roadmap that guides it towards building an inclusive society for people with disabilities.

The Ministry of Education also announced this year the extension of the Compulsory Education Act to children with special needs from 2019, while Singapore has submitted the initial report on the Convention on the Rights Persons with Disabilities to the United Nations which it ratified in 2013, he added.

“The progress we have made to support persons with disability would not be possible without the many caregivers, voluntary welfare organisations, corporate partners and supportive individuals,” Mr Tan said.

“Thank you for walking with us on this journey to build a caring and inclusive society.” 

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Detention of Bersih chief 'nothing to do' with rally: Malaysian minister

KUALA LUMPUR: The arrest of Bersih co-chair Maria Chin Abdullah had “nothing to do” with the Bersih 5 rally staged on Saturday (Nov 19) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed told Channel NewsAsia on Wednesday.

He also said his ministry had nothing to do with her detention. “The Home Ministry is only involved in policy matters. When it comes to operational matters on which offence is being committed and which act is being used, it’s up to the police,” he said.

“Her offence has got nothing to do with Bersih 5, the demonstration itself, but it’s got to do with the police report that was filed at a police station in the capital.”

Maria is being investigated for alleged activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy.

She was arrested on Friday, a day before the mass demonstration to call for governmental reform and transparency in the wake of a corruption scandal surrounding Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The controversial Special Offences Special Measures Act 2012 (SOSMA) has been evoked to detain her without trial for up to 28 days.

Her lawyers on Tuesday filed an application for habeas corpus, challenging the use of SOSMA and asking the High Court to compel the police to release her.

When it was first introduced, SOSMA was touted by authorities as anti-terror legislation, but critics said the detention without trial” provision violated human rights.

Meanwhile, supporters of Bersih’s leader are keeping up the pressure on authorities to release her. On Wednesday (Nov 23), more than 200 women from various groups walked to Malaysia’s Parliament House. An online petition to “Free Maria Chin” that went live on Monday has received more than 40,000 signatures, as of Wednesday afternoon.

Malaysia’s Deputy Home Minister also refuted allegations that the Bersih leader had been subjected to inhumane treatment while under detention. ““She is not being given unfair treatment, she is being given treatment which is equal to other suspects,” he said.

He added that she was also being given “round-the-clock” medical care and had a cell that was “clean and habitable in accordance with international standards”.

Malaysian police have come under criticism for alleged double standards – they’re potentially detaining Maria for up to 28 days while Jamal Yunos, a division leader from ruling party UMNO, was released on bail after four days.

Jamal was also picked up ahead of the Bersih rally and the counter-rally he organised for his pro-government Red Shirts movement.

“Jamal was detained under a different section because he organised the Red Shirts and he did not follow the proper laws to control public demonstrations, so he was detained under that act, not under SOSMA,” Nur Jazlan said.

“SOSMA isn’t used to detain people for demonstrations,” he added.

“It’s two different things. Although the timing is coincidental, both of their cases are based on two different things. Two different offences and two different acts.”
 

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Heng Swee Keat resumes duties; Lawrence Wong appointed Second Minister for Finance

SINGAPORE: Mr Heng Swee Keat resumed his duties as Finance Minister on Monday (Aug 22), more than three months after he suffered a stroke. An announcement of Cabinet changes from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Monday also said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has relinquished his appointment as Covering Minister for Finance as well.

Mr Lawrence Wong will be appointed as the Second Minister for Finance, concurrently with his present appointment as Minister for National Development, the PMO added.

The changes were made after Mr Heng’s doctors gave him the go-ahead to resume office work – albeit with minimum interaction – to minimise the risk of infection. Mr Heng has been advised to avoid contact with crowds for at least a few more months, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally speech on Sunday. 

Mr Lee added that Mr Heng will focus on next year’s Budget and the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE), while Mr Wong will help him out with the operational responsibilities at the Finance Ministry.

In another change to the Cabinet, Ms Sim Ann will be appointed Senior Minister of State in the Ministry of Trade and Industry and relinquish her appointment in the Ministry of Finance. She remains Senior Minister of State in the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.

The changes take effect from Aug 22.

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Minister Grace Fu to support Team Singapore in Rio at the Summer Olympics

SINGAPORE: Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu will be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from Aug 11 to 13 to cheer on Team Singapore athletes at the Summer Olympics, the ministry said in a press statement on Wednesday (Aug 10). 

The Singapore contingent, led by Mr Low Teo Ping, Chef de Mission for Team Singapore, consists of 25 athletes competing in 7 sports.

“Singapore’s best athletes are ready to do our nation proud at the Summer Olympics. They have trained very hard to fly our flag at the world’s pinnacle sporting event,” said Ms Fu, who will be accompanied by officials from the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth as well as Sport Singapore. 

“We are standing together with them as One Team Singapore, and giving our athletes our fullest support!” she added. 

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Philippines Foreign Minister says rejected China offer of conditional dialogue

MANILA: The Philippines has turned down a Chinese proposal to start bilateral talks, its foreign minister said on Tuesday, because of Beijing’s pre-condition of not discussing a court ruling that nullified most of its South China Sea claims.

Perfecto Yasay said he had met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of a summit of Asian and European leaders on the weekend and after raising the topic of last week’s ruling, it became clear that was a no-go area.

China has angrily rejected the verdict by the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the initial case as illegal and farcical. It has repeatedly said it will not change its approach or its sovereignty claims in the South China Sea.

“They said if you will insist on the ruling, discussing it along those lines, then we might be headed for a confrontation,” Yasay said during an interview with the news channel of broadcaster ABS-CBN.

“But I really honestly feel that this is something they have to make on a public basis but I also sensed there was room for us to talk very quietly using backdoor channelling.”

Yasay said Yi had proposed bilateral talks but only on issues “outside, or (in) disregard of, the arbitral ruling,” which he declined because it was not in the Philippines’ national interests.

Yasay’s account of the meeting highlights the challenge ahead for the Philippines, a U.S. ally, in getting China to comply with the decision which has ramped up tensions in the vital trade route.

The ruling laid out what maritime rights Manila had and where Beijing had violated its rights under international law, including its massive construction works on Mischief Reef.

Manila wanted to enforce the points of the complex ruling step-by-step but as a priority had asked China to let its fishermen go to the Scarborough Shoal without being harassed by its coastguard, Yasay said.

China’s coastguard was preventing Filipino boats from fishing around the hotly contested Scarborough Shoal, fishermen and officials said on Friday, and China’s air force has released pictures showing bombers recently flying over the area.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than US$ 5 trillion of trade moves annually. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have rival claims.

Yasay said hoped the ruling would lead to other Southeast Asian countries issuing a joint statement, adding that it could help neighbours also locked in disputes with China.

“We are not yet engaged in bilateral talks with anyone,” he said. “But I would like to see how we can pursue certain provisional arrangements so that it would lead to opening of bilateral or multilateral engagements should that be necessary.”

(Reporting by Karen Lema and Martin Petty; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

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Prime Minister Promises ‘good News’ In The Upcoming 2011 Singapore Budget

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that government revenues have been better than projected and highlighted that Singaporean citizen can expect “good news” in the upcoming Budget which will be announced in Feb 2011. He said Singapore should use this growth to improve the lives of its citizens across the board. He further added that major investments will be made in health care and transportation as well as in skills training and education to equip workers to do better jobs and raise productivity. He reiterated the Government’s commitment to give Singaporeans “full opportunities, a good education and a valuable stake in the country”. Education and training has always been on the top priority of the Singapore government since day 1 of Singapores independency, 45 years ago.
With the economy recovering much better than expected, many organizations including MNCs, Financial institutions such as Standard Chartered, HSBC and DBS are on major recruitment drives to beef up manpower in anticipation of the continued expansion of the global economies. There is a huge demand for talent in the resources scare country where the government competes aggressively to recruit the best talent available in the private sector to join the government services.
Singapore has been working on building itself up as a centre for leading human-capital practices, to help companies and HR professionals raise their standards by equipping them with the latest skills set in organizational psychology, talent management and strategic HR Leadership and succession planning process. During last weeks dialogue, PM Lee mentioned that more than 240 potential election candidates have been invited for “tea” sessions, and more than 40 have been interviewed by a committee chaired by PAP’s secretary- general, PM Lee. He is confident of presenting a “first-class slate of candidates” in its leadership-renewal process with its existing pool of talent.
By attracting top universities such as Chicago Booth Graduate School, INSEAD, City University of New York and SUNY Buffalo to offer Executive MBA, Master of Organizational Psychology, HR and Leadership program in Singapore, will redefine the HR sector by cultivating and nurturing an eco-system for research and business applications. This is also important since when an upswing comes, better trained employees and companies will benefit for their investment into education.
PM Lee speech was delivered at the People’s Action Party’s biennial conference, its last before the next General Election, in front of 1,700 cadres and activists at the National University of Singapore’s Cultural Centre.

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Prime Minister promises ‘good news’ in the upcoming 2011 Singapore Budget

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that government revenues have been better than projected and highlighted that Singaporean citizen can expect “good news” in the upcoming Budget which will be announced in Feb 2011. He said Singapore should use this growth to improve the lives of its citizens across the board. He further added that major investments will be made in health care and transportation as well as in skills training and education to equip workers to do better jobs and raise productivity. He reiterated the Government’s commitment to give Singaporeans “full opportunities, a good education and a valuable stake in the country”. Education and training has always been on the top priority of the Singapore government since day 1 of Singapore’s independency, 45 years ago.

With the economy recovering much better than expected, many organizations including MNCs, Financial institutions such as Standard Chartered, HSBC and DBS are on major recruitment drives to beef up manpower in anticipation of the continued expansion of the global economies.  There is a huge demand for talent in the resources scare country where the government competes aggressively to recruit the best talent available in the private sector to join the government services.

Singapore has been working on building itself up as a centre for leading human-capital practices, to help companies and HR professionals raise their standards by equipping them with the latest skills set in organizational psychology, talent management and strategic HR Leadership and succession planning process. During last week’s dialogue, PM Lee mentioned that more than 240 potential election candidates have been invited for “tea” sessions, and more than 40 have been interviewed by a committee chaired by PAP’s secretary- general, PM Lee.  He is confident of presenting a “first-class slate of candidates” in its leadership-renewal process with its existing pool of talent.

By attracting top universities such as Chicago Booth Graduate School, INSEAD, City University of New York and SUNY Buffalo to offer Executive MBA, Master of Organizational Psychology, HR and Leadership program in Singapore, will redefine the HR sector by cultivating and nurturing an eco-system for research and business applications. This is also important since when an upswing comes, better trained employees and companies will benefit for their investment into education.

PM Lee speech was delivered at the People’s Action Party’s biennial conference, its last before the next General Election, in front of 1,700 cadres and activists at the National University of Singapore’s Cultural Centre.

Aventis School of Management is a leading Graduate School which is an affiliated member of the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) and European Council for Business Education (ECBE).