Through research and technology, the new Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation (SIFBI) will support the country’s effort to produce 30 per cent of its nutritional needs locally by 2030.
A*Star has issued a release on how Singapore will create food sources and alternatives in the laboratory in order to meet its national goal and address food security challenges.
With Singapore’s “30 by 30” goal offers the perfect opportunity for SIFBI to pioneer safer and more nutritious foods for its citizens.
Along with other public sector players and institutes of higher learning (IHLs), SIFBI plans to boost Singapore’s local produce capabilities that will serve up sustainable food and food ingredient options, alternative proteins and novel nutrient-enriched delicacies aimed at recognising Singapore as Asia’s food innovation hub.
“It’s not just A*STAR alone in this journey. This is an audacious goal but the ecosystem is ripe and ready, and collectively, we need to wrap our minds around the challenge and tackle it head-on” said Dr Hazel Khoo, Executive Director of A*STAR’s Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation (SIFBI), and Senior Director of Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2025 at the Singapore Food Agency (SFA).
SIFBI did not have to start from scratch as several existing A*STAR research groups were brought under its umbrella. It has a host of research expertise in areas such as biotransformation, fermentation, clinical nutrition and food process engineering.
SIFBI, which was officially launched on 1 April 2020, hopes to build a dynamic food ecosystem by establishing Singapore as Asia’s go-to place for food technology development.
Through its cutting-edge biotechnology and clinical nutrition facilities, coupled with process engineering and new food safety methodologies, SIFBI will collaborate with universities and industry partners to develop new foods, food systems and ingredients. These will complement the other urban agriculture and aquaculture capabilities in the ecosystem to realise Singapore’s goals.
In addition, these efforts can collectively beef up Singapore’s economy and create innovative jobs with food enterprises in the start-up, SME and MNC space.
Government Support and Technology key in helping to reach 30 by 30 goal
Local start-ups currently supported by the government will benefit from improved access to information on food safety and novel food production processes from SIFBI.
Singapore’s agri-food industry needs to leverage R&D and adopt new climate-resilient and sustainable technologies to raise productivity and overcome resource constraints.
Technology will play a key role in helping reach the “30 by 30” goal. For example, indoor high-tech urban farms can implement smart sensors that provide crops with the right amount of light and nutrients, while data analytics will allow farms to monitor and optimise their operations.
There are also tremendous economic opportunities for Singapore to be a world leader in this area and the R&D infrastructure is well-positioned for it.
SIFBI is also looking for partners that can offer complementary strengths. These include public and private enterprises in sectors such as food processing and distribution, as well as local and overseas institutes of higher learning, which will groom talent for jobs in the industry.
The government released Presidential Regulation Number 132 of 2022 About the National Electronic-Based Government System Architecture to close corruption loopholes and improve government services to the people through integrated digital transformation (SPBE).
The National SPBE Architecture is vital for carrying out government business processes correctly and eliminating redundant government business processes to improve public services. The National SPBE design, according to Mahfud, is also projected to decline the repetition of ICT applications and infrastructure and increase information security.
“Integrated digital transformation can ultimately close the gaps in corruption in the service process and the use of state funds. The implementation provides quick, accurate, and transparent monitoring,” said Mahfud MD, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, at a Ministerial Level Coordination Meeting discussing the Acceleration of Implementation of National SPBE at the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs.
The coordination meeting also reviewed the integration of the SPBE architecture’s development of the Information Technology-Based Integrated Criminal Justice System (SPPT-TI). The consolidation will involve digitalisation and the standardisation of the quality of national digital services.
SPBE’s position as a catalyst in speeding national development necessitates synergy from numerous initiatives stipulated in the National Medium-Term Development Plan for 2O2O-2O24. It would also assist the unification of government services through an interoperable data and information-sharing system in compliance with the One Data Indonesia strategy.
Furthermore, the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs stated that cross-sectoral cooperation in the fields of Politics, Economy, Maritime Affairs, and Investment, as well as Human Development and Culture, was needed to ramp up the coordination of the national programme between government agencies.
“Each Coordinating Ministry is responsible for advancing SPBE implementation in the ministries/agencies under its management,” he explained.
On a separate occasion, the Ministry of Administrative Reform and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB) convened a working session with members of the National Electronic-Based Government System Coordination Team (SPBE). The session covered a variety of issues, including efforts to accelerate the implementation of a digital government that is clean, effective, visible, and responsible.
E-catalogue is another effort to promote efficiency and minimise corruption which will digitally document government procurement transaction procedures.
Digitisation of government administration is one technique for developing an effective bureaucracy. The state civil apparatus (ASN) must move away from routine and toward a creative culture to improve people’s happiness. To be adopted, however, digitalisation must have genuine repercussions or implications on poverty reduction rates and investment growth.
Meanwhile, the Philippines has made a similar effort to prevent corruption by implementing Integrated Financial Management Information Systems (IFMIS) (IFMIS). The Public Financial Management Committee (PFMC) has authorised an integrated solution for transparent tracking of public money disbursements and appropriations.
BTMS is an important IFMIS component. The system is a web-based, completely automated, and centralised database that will help generate crucial information on all areas of government financial operations and function as an online ledger where transactions are documented in real-time from purchase to payment.
The government believes that the digital transformation initiative and convergence hub can improve government system performance. The system will deliver real-time and consolidated reports, improve company efficiency and system resilience, and prevent corruption.
On the other hand, Thailand’s government intended to produce a law document that will enable anti-corruption organisations, to prohibit illegal online transactions and cybercrime. Furthermore, to improve access to public information, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (DES) has accelerated the development of a technological infrastructure system to support people’s use and reduce inequities in obtaining information via computer networks or online.
They also enacted the Personal Data Protection Act B.E. 2019 to safeguard the personal information (PDPA). The Personal Data Protection Regulation and Cross-Border Data Transfer are defined in the statute designed to protect private data rights. As a result, it is critical to retain citizens’ interest and safety in the internet environment.
Automated elections are cost-effective because they can accommodate up to 1,000 voters per clustered precinct instead of 500 voters per precinct in manual ballots, necessitating paying more workers. Therefore, Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. of Cavite 4th District advised his colleagues in the House of Representatives to employ the Automated Elections System (AES) in the Barangay (village) and local council Sangguniang Kabataan (BSK) elections on October 30 this year.
In House Resolution 717, which he submitted on Wednesday, Barzaga asked the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms to launch an investigation into the Electoral Reform Act. The viability and feasibility of executing automated BSK polls are discussed.
“It will not only result in faster outcomes and the announcement of victors, but it will also eliminate human involvement or error and confusion in the evaluation of ballots on an experimental basis on the BSK Elections in major barangays, ideally in Metro Manila,” he convinced.
There are 42,022 barangays in the country as of October 2022, each with one punong barangay (local official) and seven Sangguniang Barangay (village council) members, one SK chairperson and seven representatives.
There will be two polls for the BSK elections, one for ordinary voters aged 18 and above and another for SK electors aged 15 to 30. The lawmakers suggested repurposing and adjusting the existing Vote Counting Machines (VCMs) to accept two ballots from registered voters. Then, the devices can independently summarise the Barangay and SK elections’ scores.
The BSKE, scheduled for October this year, will use a manual election system in which voters will write the names of candidates on ballots. Historically, manual elections can encounter issues such as imprecise counting, perception, and appreciation of votes. The integration of votes in larger Barangays usually takes two to three days, as opposed to automated elections, which immediately transmit the results to the canvassing centre upon closing of the voting.
Barzaga stated that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was praised for conducting the national and municipal polls on May 9, 2022, for having the fastest results and largest voter turnout since the Philippines adopted the AES in 2010, and that the public has accepted the outcomes of the elections. The 2022 national and municipal elections were attended by 55,290,821, or 84.10 per cent of the 67,745,526 registered voters.
The resolution also said that the Comelec owned the 97,000 reconditioned vote-counting machines (VCMs) it purchased in 2016 and leased more VCMs for the 2022 elections and that a portion of these machines will be used in the BSK Elections in the pilot barangays. Barzaga believes voters are well-versed in using AES since The Philippines have used the technology in the national and municipal elections in 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and 2022.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has indicated that it is open to holding automated village votes. Comelec chairperson George Erwin Garcia noted that they would investigate the possibility of executing a pilot test of barangay and SK election automation in specific areas/precincts. He mentioned that Barzaga contacted him about the proposition earlier this week.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. signed Republic Act 11935 on October 10, 2022, rescheduling December 5, 2022, BSK elections to October 30, 2023, and holding other polls every three years after that. Meanwhile, earlier this month, OFW Party List Rep. Marissa Magsino suggested that the government should change the existing law to increase voting options to prevent voter disenfranchisement of about 1.83 million OFWs exercising their right to vote. The proposed legislation would enable Filipino personnel working abroad to vote via email, web-based portals, and other internet-based technologies.
All organisations that use alphanumeric Sender IDs to send SMS are now required to register with the Singapore SMS Sender ID Registry (SSIR) as part of the measures announced by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) last October. This registration is intended to protect consumers from non-registered SMS that may be scams, a press statement has said.
Starting from 31 January, any non-registered SMS will be labelled as “Likely-SCAM”. This functions similarly to a spam filter or spam bin. Consumers might get non-registered SMS labelled as “Likely-SCAM” and are advised to exercise caution. If unsure, consumers are encouraged to check with family and friends. This will improve IMDA’s overall resilience against scams.
All organisations that use alphanumeric Sender IDs must register early with the SSIR. This is to give adequate time as non-registered SMS Sender IDs after 31 January will be labelled as “Likely-SCAM”. Organisations that have not registered their Sender IDs are advised to do so, the statement said.
As of January 2023, over 1,200 organisations have already registered with SSIR, using more than 2,600 SMS Sender IDs. These include financial institutions, e-commerce operators, logistics providers, and SMEs that send SMS to their customers who have registered with the SSIR.
In recent months, IMDA reached out to organisations through aggregators and associations such as the Singapore Business Federation, Singapore International Chamber of Commerce, and Association of Banks in Singapore, to encourage them to register with the SSIR. The mandatory SSIR regime is part of a broader effort to protect against scams, which also includes working with telecom operators to reduce the number of scam calls and SMS coming through the communication networks.
Since the implementation of the SSIR in March 2022, there has been a significant decrease in scams reported through SMS, with a 64% reduction from the last quarter of 2021 to the second quarter of 2022. Additionally, scam cases perpetrated via SMS dropped from 10% in 2021 to 8% in Q2 2022, down from 10% in 2021.
To effectively combat scams, a collective effort from society is needed. Despite implementing various measures, scammers may adapt their methods and tactics. IMDA will continue to collaborate with other stakeholders in the fight against scams, but individual vigilance and awareness are crucial. Consumers should remain vigilant and share scam prevention tips with friends and loved ones, the statement said.
IMDA leads Singapore’s digital transformation with infocomm media. To do this, IMDA is working to develop a dynamic digital economy and a cohesive digital society, driven by an exceptional infocomm media (ICM) ecosystem. It fosters talent, strengthens business capabilities, and enhances Singapore’s ICM infrastructure. IMDA also regulates the telecommunications and media sectors to safeguard consumer interests while fostering a pro-business environment and enhances Singapore’s data protection regime through the Personal Data Protection Commission.
Scams and unwanted commercial electronic messages and calls are an international problem with scammers continuing to prey on unsuspecting parties. Last year, IMDA and Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to boost cooperation and fight scams and spam. The agreement covers cooperation in information sharing and assistance in investigations relating to scam and spam calls and short message services. The two sides also agreed to mutual exchanges of knowledge and expertise and collaboration on technical and commercially viable solutions in relation to scam and spam communications.
The Philippines has begun issuing individual electronic land titles (e-titles) to 1,839 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) in the Eastern Visayas region. The Department of Agrarian Reform will give the ARBs their personalised e-titles (DAR).
DAR stated that 2,591 electronic titles (e-titles) totalling 3,922 hectares of the agricultural property would be given on Jan. 26 as part of the Support to Parcelisation of Lands for Individual Titling (SPLIT Project). The first batch of individual titles developed by the SPLIT Project will be distributed in the Visayas State University-Tolosa Campus auditorium.
According to DAR Secretary Conrado Estrella III, this is per President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s direction to hasten the issuance of land titles to ARBs this year and to provide support services to help them better their living conditions.
“We will issue individual e-titles to preserve and affirm our ARBs’ property rights,” he explained.
The SPLIT initiative proposes fast-tracking the subdivision of national collective certificates of land ownership award (CCLOAs) of around 1.3 million hectares of land. The World Bank supported the SPLIT initiative to partition CCLOAs and tribute individual titles to ARBs.
According to DAR Eastern Visayas Regional Director Robert Anthony Yu, the SPLIT project includes approximately 17,496 CCLOAs encompassing a total of 220,473 hectares of agricultural properties throughout the region. Yu stated that the area has verified around 67,601 hectares, while 3,922 hectares have been granted with e-titles.
The SPLIT project seeks to fully implement the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programme by allowing farmer-beneficiaries to have clear and defined ownership of the parcels of land they are tilling. The e-titling aim to stimulate farmers to grow their crops and make long-term progress on their ground. The award to ARBs was also established to stabilise requests, tenure ship, govern lands, and generate short-term economic opportunities for project workers who will be employed in the project.
Estrella stated in an earlier interview that farmers could not successfully use the land to make income because they needed to know the metes and bounds of the land assigned to each of them. Estrella believes that by granting farmers individual rights, more ARBs will be inspired to enhance their landholdings, resulting in higher agricultural output and household income.
The Philippines pushed land management digitalisation. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Land Management Bureau (LMB) has fully integrated the Land Administration Management System (LAMS) databases of 16 local and community environment and natural resource bureaus in the Philippines into their respective regional offices.
LAMS is a computer-based information system consolidating the country’s land data and records. It is geared for quick and straightforward land information processing, tracking, and retrieval. As a result, the DENR-NCR and DENR-Calabarzon Regional LAMS datasets were combined to create LMB-LAMS.
LMB also pooled and assessed 19 towns undergoing Digital Cadastral Database Cleansing through different DENR regional offices. LMB Director Emelyne Talabis adds that the agency is happy with its accomplishments this year on critical programmes, which resulted in improved delivery of land-related services to Filipinos.
The Philippines generally attempted to improve its digital competencies after falling behind. The Philippines placed last among Southeast Asian countries in the 2022 World Digital Competitiveness Ranking. Furthermore, it is the 13th largest economy in Asia, trailing only Mongolia.
The Senate has rolled out an act to push the complete e-governance implementation in the Philippines. All government agencies, offices, and instrumentalities, including local government entities, are required under the bill to disclose all necessary information in both traditional and online formats. The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) will be the principal agency in enforcing the provisions of the Act.
This year, the government wants relevant ministries and agencies to tighten management and increase oversight of e-commerce activities to identify violations and prevent tax losses. The Ministry of Industry and Trade’s (MoIT) E-commerce and Digital Economy Agency will work with departments from the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) and the Ministry of Finance to share data and better regulate business activity on social media and in cyberspace.
The inspections will also focus on ensuring that e-commerce platforms and social networks are taking proper steps to screen, prevent and block accounts that do not provide adequate information or have signs of trading in counterfeit or illegal goods.
The E-commerce and Digital Economy Agency will continue to collaborate with other government agencies such as the Market Management Agency, the Department of Cybersecurity and High-Tech Crime Prevention, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and MIC to inspect and monitor e-commerce businesses for compliance with the law, in accordance with plans approved by the Minister of Industry and Trade.
The agency will also evaluate existing policies and make practical changes to improve the management of e-commerce business activities. It will upgrade infrastructure and supporting services and incorporate new technologies to assist the digital transformation of businesses.
Furthermore, the agency will offer training to improve the inspection and handling of violations in e-commerce. It will organise events to promote anti-counterfeiting and encourage e-commerce website operators to better protect consumers’ interests.
Last year, Vietnam’s e-commerce industry continued to grow and become a significant distribution channel. As the economy recovers from the pandemic, e-commerce has been a leading sector in the digital economy. A survey from the Ministry of Industry and Trade showed that retail e-commerce revenue in Vietnam increased by 20% in 2022 as compared to 2021, reaching US$ 16.4 billion. This accounted for 7.5% of the total retail sales of goods and services in the country.
To establish trust for consumers in online shopping, safeguard legitimate traders, and foster e-commerce development, the government reviewed and requested e-commerce companies to remove or lock 1,663 stalls with 6,437 counterfeits or violated goods, and blocked five infringing websites.
Experts recommend that there should be regulations on the responsibility of information security of relevant organisations and individuals in order to prevent tax loss and protect business interests. This includes regulations on the security of websites and the responsibility to provide information to tax authorities, which would help make tax management more effective.
Associate Professor Le Xuan Truong, Director of the Academy of Finance’s Faculty of Taxation and Customs under the Ministry of Finance, suggested that the government should implement a regulation that forces e-commerce trading floors to be responsible for withholding and paying taxes on behalf of individuals as well as perform payment intermediary services and participate in operating and controlling delivery activities and receiving money from buyers. Over 40 countries worldwide so far have regulated the responsibility of e-commerce exchanges in deducting taxes of individuals if the floor provides payment services, or directly participates in the delivery and receipt of goods by buyers and sellers.
Budi Gunadi Sadikin, Minister of Health, announced the development of SATUSEHAT, an interoperable Indonesian health data system. Budi aimed to complete the digitalisation of health data by January 2024. In keeping with the spirit of an impactful bureaucracy, the Minister of Health is sure Indonesians would benefit from digitisation.
“The concept is interchangeable; (health facilities) can use the information anywhere: all hospitals, both public and private, pharmacies, clinics, health centres, and labs throughout Indonesia will use the same data format, and (the data) can be exchanged,” he said at the launch of the Digital Transformation Office (DTO) Space in Jakarta.
SATUSEHAT is a health platform that serves as a forum for various health apps from companies in the health business. As a result, all applications and health service facilities on the SATUSEHAT platform, including vertical hospitals, government hospitals, private hospitals, health centres, Posyandu, laboratories, clinics, and pharmacies, must adhere to the Ministry of Health’s criteria.
People no longer need to carry physical medical record files while moving hospitals because of this platform. All patient medical record resumes have been digitally captured on the SATUSEHAT platform, which can be viewed from anywhere and at any time using mobile phones.
“For certain users who haven’t been able to produce health applications, we can aid later. (And) We can eventually give standard and free applications for significant stakeholders such as Puskesmas (community health centres) and Posyandu (toddler integrated service post). This way, we can do data integration elegantly on the same platform,” Budi confirmed.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Health established DTO as a Ministry of Health work unit dedicated to implementing the Healthy Indonesia programme by developing effective data-driven policies and digital technology products. User-Based Technology Development, National Health Data Integration, Technology Capacity Building, and Data-Based Policy Making are the four principles of digital transformation being implemented.
Budi directed the DTO and the Data and Information Centre (Pusdatin) to take meaningful actions to expedite national health data digitisation. DTO must complete nationwide health interoperability that is transparent and accessible to all parties. The merger process started on July 6, 2022, and is expected to be finished by the end of 2023.
Another challenge is to combine clinical and genomic data to assess the health of the Indonesian population deployed with Artificial Intelligence to create more detailed and exact results. AI will subsequently support the Ministry of Health’s clinical and genomic data. The services are designed to help Indonesia advance health biotechnology.
During the inauguration ceremony, the Minister for Administrative Reform and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB), Abdullah Azwar Anas, praised the Ministry of Health’s digital transformation in the healthcare system. He anticipated that the shift would affect at least five items. First and foremost, it increases the quality of healthcare services. Second, it improves access to healthcare services. Third, raise the added value of the health sector economy with a focus on domestic goods.
Fourth, speeding the achievement of the government’s main healthcare projects, such as lowering stunting prevalence. Fifth, strengthen health human resource expertise while guaranteeing equitable distribution across the country.
“For example, we may ensure that a health concern is treated by integrating data, then monitoring therapy until the assessment is entirely digitally driven. We can learn from the Covid-19 pandemic, in which health technology was extremely useful in combating the pandemic,” he went on to say.
Anas believes that the Ministry of Health’s SATUSEHAT will soon be merged with the National Electronic-Based Government System. He praised the tremendous efforts made by the Ministry of Health to implement digital transformation.
The Ministry of Health’s consolidation initiative can serve as a model for other Ministries/Institutions looking to increase work units’ roles in supervising the government’s digitalisation activities. Anas is optimistic that the integrated ecosystem of digital health data will be a huge step forward for the country’s health sector.
Researchers from the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI) have created a dolphin-like sonar device with a new echo processing technique that enables clearer underwater images compared to the traditional signal processing method of visualising sound echoes.
The new sonar processing method could have potential benefits in underwater commercial or military sonars. It could be used to scan the seabed to search for features that can be used to aid navigation. The sonar’s compactness also makes it suitable to be mounted on underwater robots for ocean exploration.
The processing method is based on the hypothesis that dolphins use prior information about their environment, apart from broadband sound pulses, to interpret their echoes. The sonar uses information on the sparsity of objects, which allows for a better interpretation of sound echoes.
According to a press statement, the new device provides a better trade-off between sonar-image clarity, the number of sensors, and the size of the sensor array used as compared to current sonars of similar size and purpose. Conventional echo processing techniques tend to fail when sensors are limited in number or widely spaced. The new sonar processing method, however, can extract information and yield image clarity even in these situations.
The researchers noticed that dolphins had the ability to scan underwater objects acoustically and match them visually, indicating that a dolphin’s sound echoes emitted off an object contain information about the object’s shape. They then recorded the echoes emitted by dolphins when scanning an object in the water.
Using their observations as a guide, the team constructed a biomimetic sonar that mimics a dolphin’s sonar system. The device, which is about the size of a dolphin’s head and measures 25 cm in width, is designed to emit sharp, impulsive clicking sounds, similar to those used by dolphins for echolocation.
The team employed three transmitters to send sounds from different directions. They then analysed the echoes produced by both the dolphin and the biomimetic sonar to visualise what information about the object’s shape was revealed in the echoes.
To complement the hardware, the team developed software that improves the visualisation of echoes. The researchers incorporated the concept of sparsity into the sonar’s software. This assumes that out of the space scanned, only a small percentage is occupied by the object. According to Hari Vishnu, Senior Research Fellow at NUS TMSI, “Using prior information, such as the idea of sparsity, is intuitive. It is something humans do all the time – we turn our understanding of reality into expectations that can speed up our inferences and decisions. For example, in the absence of other information, the human brain and vision system tend to assume that in an image, the light on an object will be falling from above.”
The effectiveness of the software was demonstrated when it was able to visualise information from a dolphin’s sonar echoes when scanning an object, as well as sonar signals produced by their compact sonar. A conventional approach to processing both sonar echoes resulted in noisy images. However, the novel processing approach gave better resolution and therefore sharper images. The software is also able to generate visualisations with a mere three clicks from the sonar, thus allowing it to be operationally fast.