In the meeting room in the 37. Floor of the Capital Tower in Singapore, it is freezing cold. A five-Meter-high Windows, I see the flickering streets, and sweaty people deeply under me as if on a screen. Up here, in the offices of government authorities, the right decisions are made. Down there you will be executed.

I’m supposed to meet Siong Guan Lim. The 71-Year-old has worked in a number of governmental authorities, now he is an Advisor to the “Government of Singapore Investment Corporation”. The authority administers several state funds. I want to know from him, what drives the city-state. How could the little Singapore, a major global Player and to the digital forefront?

FOCUS Online 14 countries, 14 Reporter – solutions, which can be for our society as a model

FOCUS Online launches a new and constructive Reportage series. The target: perspectives for Germany’s social and societal future. What other countries do better and what you can learn Germany from international models? To find answers, travel 14 FOCUS-Online-a Reporter in 14 different countries.

All of the already published stories, you can find here.

the relevance of technology in the global market

Lim is a small and meager. Be upright gait, and his large steps make it clear to me that he had to say as a government official. “We are a very small country, there’s going to Indonesia. If you look on the other side of the city, then Malaysia,” says the 71-Year-old, “but it also offers us possibilities and opportunities.” He leans back slowly and folds her hands on the table. FOCUS Online Siong Guan Lim is in the Meeting room of the Capital Towers in Singapore

“A state consists of three pillars: geography, demography and technology”, lecture Lim. Singapore, however, is geographically and demographically limited. In Singapore, there is only a small market, a few workers and no natural resources. “Technology is thus our only key to sustainability, our only Chance to be relevant for the world,” he says with a quiet voice. As a result, the country is exposed to global competition and needs to focus on the international trade market. His gaze wanders to the high-rise buildings, on which the Logos are to identify major international banks. Singapore is a Magnet for the money of the Rich and the super. The Financial Centre Of Asia. FOCUS Online views of the financial hub in Singapore

Smart Nation Initiative

In one of the buildings the “Smart Nation & Digital Government Office”. The authority takes care of the digitalization and the introduction of the latest technologies in all areas of life in Singapore. Here I meet Tan Kok Yam. He is the Deputy Secretary. He should explain to me what it has to do with the survival of important new technologies. Tiffany, a young woman, short dress, perfectly made up, opens me. The office acts as a cool Start-up, and not like a government Agency. Red walls idea of the slips of paper and small drawings hang. Hardly any of the staff is in place in the office, most of them sitting with their Laptops on couches or at kitchen tables.

Tan Kok Yam in the pink shirt on me and with momentum on a chair. He immediately goes: “We want to play an important role in the world market. Therefore, we see ourselves as a test center for new ideas and innovations,“ he says and moves to the edge of his chair, as he would want to start. “Our new technologies can be tested in real life.” The innovations could then be used in other countries. They can also learn from the experiences in Singapore. “That is our role in the value chain, we want to play in the world market.” FOCUS Online the office of the “Smart Nation”Initiative looks like a Start-up

enterprises in the Sandbox

part of the “Smart Nation”Initiative, the so-called Sandboxes for a quick implementation of ideas. Companies can test in real life, their innovations and technologies. The “sandbox” is an isolated area in the company, with no legal restrictions with test subjects for a certain period of time their ideas can try. You can have as Strengths and weaknesses of their technologies, test and authorities to develop the regulations accordingly, and adjust.

Sandboxes are mainly used for the Testing of ideas in the financial sector, but also in other areas. In April, the Ministry of health in Singapore announced that it plans to create Sandboxes for medical technical companies. This also includes the “Discovery AI”Sandbox. I want to get a closer look.

Artificial intelligence in the hospital

On a screen in the hospital of the National University in Queenstown, small circles are shown on a map. “Everyone is a patient,” explains Kee Yuan Ngiam, Clinical Director, and several Physicians. With a remote control, he moves a mouse over the screen and clicks on a circle. “Now I can see the age, state of health or even the duration of stay of the patient. All data are stored here.“ The glass Patient. Digital anonymized and presented in a single circle. Ngiam speaks: “Now the card is, how high the probability is that the Patient is re-admitted to the hospital!”

In this technology-trade fair for the University to know the Doctors, how the hospital of the future looks like. In the near future. Already from 2019, technologies are meant to help with Artificial intelligence for Physicians to decide fast and to make the hospitals more efficient. The digital patient card is to be further tested, and then in the first hospitals to be used. FOCUS Online Kee Yuan Ngiam shows the digital patient

Adapting new technologies

For the quick introduction of the technologies, especially the acceptance of the population is important. In Singapore significantly higher than in Germany. “In Germany, there is a greater societal reason, skepticism and unease towards digital developments,” says Katharina Naumann of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. The people in Singapore to take new technologies more quickly. “I believe that you can not think with so much new and fast developments in everything to the end, but also a space for experiments is required.” The Sandboxes could be envisaged.

The German immigrant, Andreas Hauser, TÜV Süd in Singapore, is impressed: “Really, the entire population in Singapore is much more open to new technologies than we Germans.” The Singaporeans know, you have to be quick if you want to be in the development of digital technologies on the front. “Singapore is a destination and go. Since the state is very pragmatic,“ says Hauser. The flip side of this coin: “A big advantage of Germany is that we are very critical. We question the New.“ Therefore, things would not be implemented as fast, but better planned.

relevance technology

government Advisor Siong Guan Lim is familiar with, of course, the criticism of the “Smart Nation” Initiative – and brushes aside. “Smart Nation at first seems as a very aggressive method. However, it is more defensive and a reaction to the changing world,“ he says with a laugh. “We have no other choice than to focus on the digital development.” Also Tan Kok Yam from the “Smart Nation & Digital Government Office” is convinced that the Initiative of Singapore, is a Chance to survive in the world market: “no one can argue that China or India are irrelevant. Their relevance comes from their size. Germany’s relevance comes from the industry. We in Singapore think about how we can be relevant.“ FOCUS Online Tan Kok Yam is from the “Smart Nation & Digital Government Office”


Siong Guan Lim rises from his chair and walks quietly to the window. Still, Singapore is an important Player in the world market, he says. But we could not rest if that should remain so in the future. With one Hand he points upward, as the height of the building would not be enough in front of the Capital Tower. “Still the venue for us. We need to be faster than all the others.“

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