Recently, most drug discoveries have been selected and synthesised with the suitable molecules needed by knowledgeable humans to come to the safe and efficient medicine we rely on daily. Scientists often employ a retrosynthesis technique to identify the synthesis. The retrosynthesis technique is a method used in organic chemistry to plan the synthesis of complex molecules. It involves working backwards from a desired target molecule to identify the necessary precursor molecules and the sequence of reactions needed to synthesise the target.
The process of sifting through millions of potential chemical reactions can be a challenging and time-consuming task. With the vast number of possible reactions and transformations that can be applied to different functional groups and molecules, it becomes crucial to streamline the search for suitable reactions during the retrosynthetic analysis.
To address this challenge, several computational tools and software programs have been developed to assist chemists in identifying potential reactions. Researchers at The Ohio State University have created an AI framework called G2Retro to generate reactions for any given molecule automatically.
The recent research demonstrated that the framework outperformed existing manual-planning methods by encompassing a vast structure of potential chemical reactions and effectively and efficiently determining the most suitable reactions for synthesising a specific drug molecule.
“We are seriously concerned in AI development to save human lives, and medicine is what we want to focus on,” said Xia Ning, lead author of the study and an associate professor of computer science and engineering at Ohio State.
The objective of using AI is to accelerate the drug design process, and the results revealed that this approach not only offers time and cost savings for researchers but also generates drug candidates with significantly superior properties compared to naturally occurring molecules.
Ning’s team trained G2Retro using a data set comprising 40,000 chemical reactions compiled from 1976 to 2016. The framework utilises graph-based representations of molecules and employs deep neural networks to generate potential reactant structures for their synthesis.
The framework’s remarkable generative capabilities allow it to generate hundreds of novel reaction predictions within a few minutes when provided with a specific molecule, as highlighted by Ning.
Ning chose this method due to this generative AI method G2Retro can supply multiple different synthesis routes and options, as well as a way to rank other possibilities for each molecule. She also emphasised, “This is not going to replace current lab-based experiments, however, it will offer better drug options so experiments can be prioritised and focused much faster.”
To evaluate the efficacy of the AI system, Ning’s team conducted a case study to assess G2Retro’s ability to accurately predict the synthesis of four recently introduced drugs: Mitapivat, a treatment for hemolytic anemia; Tapinarof, used for various skin diseases; Mavacamten, prescribed for systemic heart failure; and Oteseconazole, employed in the treatment of fungal infections in females.
“G2Retro was able to generate the same patented synthesis routes for these medicines correctly and provided alternative synthesis routes that are also feasible and synthetically useful,” Ning said.
According to Ning, G2Retro successfully produced the exact synthesis pathways for these medications and additionally provided alternative synthesis routes that are both viable and valuable for practical use.
Possessing such a dynamic and efficient tool at scientists’ disposal can facilitate the production of more potent drugs at an accelerated rate.
However, while AI, such as G2Retro, may provide an advantage to scientists within the laboratory, Ning underscored the crucial point that the medications generated by G2Retro or any generative AI still require validation. The validation process needs testing the created molecules in animal models first and subsequently progressing to human trials.
The Minister for Finance, Minister for Women, and Minister for the Public Service of Australia provided updates on technology and digital identity-related legislation. The Minister delved into the topic of Digital ID and its significance for Australia’s future.
The primary focus of the address was the introduction of the draft Digital ID legislation, marking the commencement of consultations for the exposure draft. She highlighted that Digital ID is akin to an online version of presenting one’s passport or driver’s license to verify their identity but without relinquishing the physical document. It aims to provide a secure and convenient way to verify identity online.
The draft Digital ID legislation, now open for consultation, represents a significant milestone in Australia’s efforts to create a national Digital ID system. The Minister outlined four guiding principles for this system: security, convenience, voluntariness, and inclusivity. She stressed that Digital ID would remain voluntary, ensuring alternate channels for those who prefer not to use it.
Moreover, Digital ID is seen as a means to enhance inclusion by bringing government services online and extending their accessibility to underserved communities, including individuals with disabilities. However, the Minister emphasised that those unable or unwilling to obtain a Digital ID would still have access to government services through traditional channels.
The current system, which operates without legislation, allows individuals with Digital IDs to verify their identity without repeatedly providing sensitive documents. Nevertheless, it has limitations, as it is not yet a nationwide system and private sector providers cannot verify individuals against government-issued ID documents. The government envisions a national Digital ID system as an important economic, productivity, and security reform, and efforts are underway to address these shortcomings.
To ensure trust, data protection, and choice in the Digital ID system, the draft legislation establishes governance arrangements, a regulator (with the ACCC as the interim regulator), and privacy safeguards. Senator Gallagher emphasised the need for explicit consent for sharing identity information, the secure deletion of biometric data, and the prohibition of using identity data for direct marketing purposes.
Additionally, the Minster announced the formation of an AI taskforce, in collaboration with colleague Ed Husic, to ensure responsible and safe usage of AI across government agencies. AI has the potential to improve productivity within the APS and enhance government services, but it also requires careful management to mitigate risks.
The government is committed to creating boundaries and safeguards for emerging technologies like AI. The AI Taskforce will assess the risks and benefits of different AI systems within the public service.
The upcoming release of the first Long Term Insights Brief on AI and trust in public service delivery was also mentioned. Four key findings from the brief highlighted the importance of designing AI with integrity, preserving empathy in service design, enhancing public service performance, and investing in AI literacy and digital connectivity for all Australians.
The Minister expressed her determination to see the establishment of an Australian Digital ID system through legislation, despite the challenges and opposition. She acknowledged that it has been an eight-year work in progress, but she believes it is a worthy project with significant benefits for individuals, businesses, and the economy as a whole.
The address highlighted the importance of Digital ID legislation and AI governance in shaping Australia’s technological future. These initiatives aim to enhance security, convenience, and inclusivity while safeguarding individuals’ privacy and ensuring responsible AI usage within the public service.
Efforts to advance digital identification in Australia align with the country’s broader initiatives to establish a national Digital ID system, as discussed by the Minster. The focus of one pilot program, reported on by OpenGov Asia earlier, was on enabling individuals to prove their identity without the need for multiple physical documents corresponds to the principles of Digital ID outlined by the Minister, emphasising secure digital verification over physical information exchange.
Additionally, student volunteers from Deakin University demonstrated practical applications of digital identity within the education sector, mirroring the efficiencies mentioned by Senator Gallagher in her speech. These developments reflect Australia’s growing interest and innovation in the digital identification ecosystem.
Minister of PANRB Abdullah Azwar Anas stated that in 2023, the diplomatic relations between the Republic of Indonesia and Korea will reach its 50th year. Both countries continuously work to enhance their relations and cooperation, both bilaterally, regionally, and multilaterally.
In light of this, the governments of Indonesia and Korea are continuing their cooperation in Electronic Government Systems (EGS) through the Digital Government Cooperation Forum. This event, organised through the collaboration of the Ministry of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB), the Ministry of the Interior and Safety (MoIS), and the National Information Society Agency (NIA), discusses the implementation of cooperation in 2023 and the cooperation project plans for 2024.
“The closeness of this relationship and cooperation is certainly supported by the complementary nature of resources and advantages possessed by Indonesia and Korea, in addition to the excellent economic and political progress, making opportunities for cooperation in various sectors increasingly wide open,” said Minister PANRB Abdullah Azwar Anas.
In 2023, the governments of Indonesia and Korea embarked on a cooperation project related to digital ID development strategies and poverty alleviation digitalisation strategies. As for the extension of the DGCC cooperation project in 2024, there are several project proposals from the DGCC Committee, including support for government efforts in digitalising Nusantara City into a smart city focusing on intelligent government aspects.
“These cooperation proposals include the use of Big Data and AI for government administrative services, open-source technology-based designs, and big data designs in service provision,” explained Anas.
In his opinion, strengthening the strategic partnership between Korea and Indonesia for a shared future, especially in digital transformation, is not just an aspiration but a necessity. Indonesia’s digital transformation is already on the right track, where digital transformation serves as an accelerator for development acceleration.
Strengthening partnerships with Korea, one of the global technology industry leaders can bring Indonesia significant benefits. Korea has extensive experience and expertise in digital transformation and cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and 5G. Through knowledge sharing and close collaboration, Indonesia can accelerate the implementation of these technologies to support various sectors, including industry, education, healthcare, and public services.
Furthermore, strengthening this partnership can also open doors for investments in Indonesia’s technology ecosystem. With financial and technical support from Korea, Indonesian startups and technology companies can further develop their innovations and compete in the global market. This will create new job opportunities, drive economic growth, and strengthen Indonesia’s position in an increasingly interconnected international community.
“Interoperability of systems and applications continues to be pursued to realise integrated services nationally. However, we continue to strive and learn best practices from various countries, especially Korea, to strengthen digital transformation breakthroughs in Indonesia,” he said.
NIA President Jong Sung Hwang stated that in the future, his agency will actively assist Indonesia in digital governance, similar to what they did by establishing NIA in 1987 to support the digitalisation of the South Korean government. “The South Korean government used to have 17,060 silo systems, but they managed to integrate them all into an all-in-one service,” explained Jong Sung Hwang.
Jong Sung Hwang added that in the era of digital governance, everything should run smoothly, and data should be easily accessible. “Usually, data preparation takes a lot of time, but with data infrastructure, it can be done more quickly and data is easier to use,” he added.
In an era where technology defines many aspects of daily life, strengthening a strategic partnership with Korea in digital transformation is not just an option but a necessity. This step will help Indonesia address challenges and seize opportunities from the global digital revolution. With strong cooperation between the two countries, Indonesia can achieve a brighter and more sustainable future in the digital era.
In a resolute move to drive technological innovation and secure a prominent position on the global stage, China significantly bolstered its investment in research and development (R&D) in 2022. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that the country allocated an impressive 3.08 trillion yuan (S$422.1 billion) to R&D, marking a 10.1% year-on-year increase.
This surge in R&D funding underscores China’s unwavering dedication to advancing basic research and achieving breakthroughs in critical technologies.
The amplified R&D investment not only fuels technological innovation within Chinese enterprises but also enhances their core competitiveness on the international front. Experts believe that this substantial investment will inject a potent dose of momentum into China’s ongoing economic recovery.
The surge in R&D investment reflects China’s resolute implementation of an innovation-driven development strategy, positioning the nation as a science and technology powerhouse. This strategy equips China with a competitive edge in the fierce international arena, driving the creation of new growth engines.
Pan Helin, co-director of the Digital Economy and Financial Innovation Research Centre at Zhejiang University’s International Business School, underscores the pivotal role of continuous investment in basic scientific research.
He highlights its significance in fostering high-quality economic growth and promoting the intelligent transformation and upgrading of traditional industries. Pan calls for harnessing the leading role of enterprises in driving technological innovation, thereby ensuring sustainable progress.
Enterprises in China are indeed heeding this call, expanding their investments in vital sectors and laying a robust foundation for pioneering core technologies in key domains. The NBS highlighted the government’s commitment to providing continued financial support and encouraging local authorities to amplify their R&D investments while optimising the efficiency of capital utilisation.
China’s prowess in science and technology innovation has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years. The 2022 Global Innovation Index, released by the World Intellectual Property Organisation, positioned China at the 11th spot globally, making it the only middle-income economy within the top 30.
Further, Luo Zhongwei, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Industrial Economics advocates intensifying investments in cutting-edge and forward-looking fields, including quantum information, artificial intelligence (AI), biological sciences, new energy, and new materials.
According to him, these investments are essential to achieve breakthroughs in key domains through independent innovation, particularly as protectionism continues to rise in some countries.
China’s intensified investments in cutting-edge fields like quantum information and AI confer a multitude of advantages. This commitment propels China to a position of technological leadership on the global stage. By allocating substantial resources to these transformative technologies, China not only sets industry standards but also influences international trends and fosters innovation.
Besides, these investments fuel economic growth by catalysing the development of new industries and markets. Quantum information and AI have the potential to spawn high-tech startups, generate employment opportunities, and stimulate economic prosperity.
As China excels in these domains, it enhances its global competitiveness, exporting technological advancements, products, and expertise while strengthening its standing in international trade and diplomacy.
Also, this strategic move ensures China’s national security and technological sovereignty. Quantum information and AI play pivotal roles in safeguarding against cybersecurity threats and advancing military capabilities.
Likewise, these investments reduce China’s reliance on foreign technology, allowing greater control over critical infrastructure and ensuring resilience against external disruptions. Overall, China’s intensified focus on these advanced fields promises not only technological leadership but also economic growth, national security, and global influence.
The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) spearheaded an initiative aimed at promoting innovation and technology in the biotech sector, showcasing Hong Kong’s pioneering advancements and entrepreneurial spirit.
This initiative was part of the “Think Business, Think Hong Kong” event organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) in Paris recently. The event was a platform to underscore the potential for cross-border collaboration between Hong Kong and France in the field of biotechnology and innovation.
The CEO of HKSTP emphasised the critical purpose behind this endeavour. He pointed out the immense potential for synergy and cooperation between Hong Kong and French biotech ecosystems, highlighting their role in propelling startups and pharmaceutical companies to global prominence.
The journey of biotech innovation is long and arduous, and comprehensive support is essential. This initiative aimed to highlight Hong Kong’s ability to nurture and support biotech innovators throughout their growth trajectory and establish the city as a global hub for innovation and technology.
At its core, this initiative sought to underscore Hong Kong’s strengths in driving innovation to global success. It aimed to showcase the city’s unique ecosystem that fosters innovation and technology, making it a prime destination for biotech entrepreneurs. Moreover, it underlined the immense market potential in Asia as a growth engine for the global biotech industry.
The thematic session organised by HKSTP and the accompanying pavilion, titled “Unlocking Asia’s Opportunities in Healthcare Innovation,” was central to this initiative. These components received a warm reception from the French biotech and pharmaceutical industry.
Four distinguished biotech experts from Hong Kong-based ventures were featured, collectively illustrating Hong Kong’s capacity to lead in global innovation and technology. They highlighted the city’s potential as a gateway to the Asian market, positioning it as a central hub for biotech growth and development.
To further accentuate the significance of this initiative, a special gala dinner was convened, attended by influential leaders from the French, European, and Hong Kong business communities. Key dignitaries including the President of the Ile de France Region, the Financial Secretary of the HKSAR Government, and the Chairman of HKTDC were present. This gathering aimed to foster meaningful connections and collaborations that would propel innovation and technology in the biotech sector forward.
HKSTP’s initiative was not just about an event; it was about catalysing collaboration and innovation in the biotech sector. It sought to highlight Hong Kong’s unique strengths as a global player in biotech innovation and technology. By bringing together experts, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders, this initiative aimed to pave the way for groundbreaking advancements in biotech, positioning Hong Kong as a prominent player in the international innovation and technology landscape.
OpenGov Asia previously reported that the Government Chief Information Officer of Hong Kong led a delegation from the city’s innovation and technology (I&T) sector to the 25th China International Software Expo (CISE). The mission aimed to strengthen collaboration and explore business opportunities in the technology sector.
The Hong Kong Pavilion at CISE showcased more than 20 innovative I&T products and solutions sourced from esteemed competitions like the Hong Kong ICT Awards and the “Maker in China” SME Innovation and Entrepreneurship Global Contest. These exhibits covered cutting-edge domains such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, cloud computing, and biotechnology.
These innovations spanned sectors like fintech, smart construction site management, and digital entertainment, demonstrating the integration of digital technology into the tangible economy. To engage potential buyers and partners, the Hong Kong Pavilion featured a mini-stage for exhibitors to present their products and services.
This delegation’s participation in CISE emphasised Hong Kong’s technological capabilities and commitment to international collaboration. It aligned with Hong Kong’s goal of becoming a global hub for technological innovation in a rapidly evolving I&T landscape.
The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of three separate memoranda of understanding (MoUs) from earlier this year between India and Sierra Leone, Antigua & Barbuda, and Armenia. These MoUs will facilitate cooperation in the realm of exchanging successful digital solutions that have been deployed at a national level to boost digital transformation initiatives.
Under the memoranda of understanding, the countries will share experiences and digital technology-driven solutions, such as India Stack, in the execution of digital transformation projects. It is expected that the MoUs will result in more employment opportunities in the information technology sector.
India Stack is a collection of indigenously developed APIs and digital public assets that strive to enable the widespread utilisation of digital identity, data, and payments as fundamental economic elements. India Stack includes apps like Unified Payments Interface (India’s instant payments system), Aadhaar (the government’s digital identity card), and DigiLocker (a secure document access platform on a public cloud).
Both government-to-government (G2G) and business-to-business (B2B) cooperation in the realm of DPI will be strengthened through the MoUs. The endeavours outlined in the agreements will be funded using the regular operating allocations of their respective administrations. The MoUs shall remain in force for three years.
The MoUs were signed between the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and the Ministry of Information and Communications of the Republic of Sierra Leone, the Ministry of Information, Communications Technologies, Utilities and Energy of the Antigua & Barbuda, and the Armenian Ministry of High-Tech Industry.
MeitY is actively working with multiple countries and international organisations to promote both bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the field of ICT. Over time, MeitY has established MoUs, memoranda of cooperation (MoCs), and agreements with counterpart organisations and agencies from various countries. These arrangements serve as vehicles for fostering cooperation and facilitating the exchange of information within the ICT domain.
The MoUs were originally put forth at a meeting of the G20 Digital Economy Working Group (DEWG). The event served as a global platform for discussions on both foundational and sector-specific DPIs. It featured experience zones that highlighted the various DPIs that have been successfully implemented, including digital identities, fast payments, open networks for digital commerce, language translation technology, online learning solutions, and telemedical consultations.
The agreements align with the several initiatives undertaken by the government, including Digital India, Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self-Reliant India), and Make in India, among others, aimed at advancing the nation towards a digitally empowered society and a knowledge-based economy. Given the evolving landscape, there is a need to explore business opportunities, exchange best practices, and attract investments within the digital sector.
According to the government, over the last few years, India has showcased its leadership in the deployment of Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) and has effectively delivered public services, even amidst the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, many countries have expressed an interest in learning from India’s experiences.
India Stack Solutions are Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) created and implemented by India on a national scale. This infrastructure facilitates access to and the delivery of public services. It aims to universalise connectivity, foster digital inclusion, and ensure effortless access to public services.
These solutions are built on open technologies, are interoperable and are designed to encourage active involvement from both industry and community stakeholders, fostering innovation. However, each country has unique needs and challenges in building DPI, although the basic functionality is similar, allowing for global cooperation.
The Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) has garnered accolades at the “Hong Kong Business Technology Excellence Awards 2023” for its commitment to driving technological innovation across traditional industries and property management through the application of smart manufacturing and robotics technology.
Two inventions, “Smart Pack@TCM” and the “IoT Smart Toilet Cleaning System,” have been recognised in the categories of “Smart Technology-Manufacturing Technology” and “Robotics-Property Service,” respectively.
The Executive Director of HKPC underscored the importance of integrating technology and innovation in line with President Xi Jinping’s recent call to harness technological and innovative resources. President Xi emphasised the need to drive emerging and future industries while accelerating the establishment of new productivity standards.
HKPC will continue to push the boundaries of innovation, striving to create industrialisation solutions that not only meet but exceed customer expectations. The recognition received at the local business technology awards underscores HKPC’s dedication to delivering cutting-edge solutions that enhance convenience and efficiency across various sectors. With a commitment to working closely with industries, HKPC aims to develop more innovative technology applications, bolstering competitiveness and productivity and contributing significantly to a smarter and sustainable future.
One of HKPC’s notable achievements is its collaboration with a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) manufacturer renowned for its certification with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) for Proprietary Chinese Medicines. Together, they designed and established the “Smart Pack@TCM,” a GMP-compliant smart packaging system for traditional Chinese medicine powders.
The system leverages cutting-edge technologies, including intelligent robotics, machine vision systems, mechanical structures, and control software, to meet the complex and stringent requirements of packaging traditional Chinese medicine powders.
The “Smart Pack@TCM” system represents a groundbreaking leap in the traditional Chinese medicine industry’s journey towards new industrialisation. By integrating three industrial robots and nine machine vision systems, the solution achieves precise and high-speed insertion of small medicine vials into metal cans. It accommodates packaging materials of varying sizes, shapes, and colours, resulting in a remarkable doubling of packaging output and a staggering 90% reduction in manpower requirements.
The freed-up manpower can be redeployed to handle other essential tasks. Furthermore, the system significantly enhances packaging quality and stability while providing real-time data for improved production management efficiency and enhanced market competitiveness.
The Executive Director of the TCM manufacturer praised the collaboration, highlighting the brand’s strong emphasis on product quality and reputation in the traditional Chinese medicine industry. Traditionally, the packaging and production of traditional Chinese medicine involved intricate and labour-intensive processes that demanded a substantial workforce.
However, thanks to the tailored efforts of HKPC, an exceptional smart packaging system was devised for their factory. This revolutionary solution effectively doubled their packaging output, allowing manpower to be reallocated to tasks that cannot be automated, such as herb processing. As a result, the overall efficiency of the company experienced a significant boost, marking a transformative moment in its operations.
Another achievement by HKPC is the co-development of the “IoT Smart Toilet Cleaning System” with the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) of the HKSAR Government. This innovative system harnesses the power of the Internet of Things (IoT) to provide autonomous cleaning functionality, making it more convenient for application and management in various venues. The system comprises a toilet bowl cleaning robot, an automated guided vehicle, and an IoT-based sanitation monitoring platform.
The system is equipped with the ability to collect real-time data on the usage and odour levels of individual toilet cubicles, enabling precise monitoring of toilet cleanliness. In addition to scheduled cleaning, the robot can dynamically adjust its cleaning frequency based on data collected through IoT monitoring, ensuring that high-traffic areas receive the attention they require.
The robot employs artificial intelligence to conduct real-time image analysis of toilet bowl interiors, categorising cleanliness into three levels. Based on this assessment, the robot employs specific cleaning modes with varying water usage and scrubbing procedures to effectively clean toilet bowl interiors and rims. After each cleaning cycle, the robot evaluates the cleaning results and initiates another cleaning cycle if stains are still detected.
Currently undergoing a trial run within the HKSAR Government premises, the “IoT Smart Toilet Cleaning System” represents a promising technological leap in enhancing sanitation and maintenance in public facilities. Plans are underway to commercialize this research and development outcome in the future. This remarkable innovation has also garnered acclaim at the “2023 World Genius Conference” organized by the International Federation of Inventors’ Associations.
The innovations showcased by the HKPC align with the goals of Hong Kong’s Smart City Blueprint. HKPC’s integration of advanced technologies, such as smart manufacturing and IoT, into traditional industries and property management resonates with the blueprint’s focus on technological integration.
These innovations enhance efficiency, foster innovation, and improve competitiveness while embracing sustainability principles. The collaboration between HKPC and the HKSAR Government in developing the “IoT Smart Toilet Cleaning System” exemplifies the blueprint’s emphasis on public-private partnerships.
OpenGov Asia previously reported on the establishment of the Committee on Innovation, Technology and Industry Development (CITID) by the HKSAR government. The move represents a pivotal step in aligning with Hong Kong’s Smart City Blueprint and its commitment to technological advancement.
CITID will promote research and development, nurture and attract I&T talent, and develop essential I&T infrastructure, all of which resonate with the objectives of advancing technology, innovation, efficiency, and sustainability as part of Hong Kong’s journey toward becoming a smarter city.
CITID will also contribute to the realisation of new industrialisation strategies; these are complemented by HKPC’s recent innovations and the government’s commitment to driving technological transformation across traditional industries and property management.
The 13th Singapore-US Strategic Security Policy Dialogue (SSPD) was convened, and co-chaired by Permanent Secretary of Defence, Chan Heng Kee and United States Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Sasha Baker. This dialogue, embedded within the 2005 Strategic Framework Agreement and Defence Cooperation Agreement, serves as a cornerstone for shaping the future of Singapore-US defence relations.
Beyond the traditional domains of defence, Singapore and the US are venturing into uncharted territory – cybersecurity and critical emerging technologies. This signifies a strategic shift that acknowledges the evolving nature of security threats in the digital age.
Both nations have recognised the enduring strength of their bilateral defence relationship. Singapore’s unwavering support for the U.S. regional presence, outlined in the 1990 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) Regarding the U.S. use of Facilities (1990 MoU), remains a crucial pillar of their alliance. Simultaneously, the US continues to bolster the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) capabilities through overseas training and technology access. This includes the RSAF’s acquisition of the cutting-edge F-35 fighter aircraft.
The dialogue marked a significant milestone by introducing discussions on cybersecurity. In an interconnected world, where information is power, securing digital infrastructure cannot be overstated.
By engaging in collaborative efforts to enhance their cyber defences, Singapore and the US are not only safeguarding their interests but also contributing to global cybersecurity resilience. This proactive approach sets a precedent for other nations to follow suit and collectively combat cyber threats.
Also, the emphasis on critical and emerging technologies highlights the foresight of both nations. In today’s fast-paced technological landscape, advancements in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, and biotechnology can tip the scales of national security.
By pooling their expertise and resources, Singapore and the US are positioning themselves at the forefront of innovation, ensuring they are well-prepared for the security challenges of the future.
The dialogue also featured discussions on regional developments and the continued engagement of the US in the Asia-Pacific region. The ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM)-Plus framework serves as a platform for constructive dialogue and cooperation among ASEAN member states and their partners. Singapore and the US both recognise the significance of this framework in promoting regional stability and security.
Regular bilateral and multilateral training exercises form another vital facet of this partnership. Exercises like Tiger Balm, Pacific Griffin, Commando Sling, Red Flag, and Super Garuda Shield serve as platforms for joint training and skill development. These exercises not only enhance the operational readiness of both armed forces but also foster greater cooperation and understanding between Singapore and the US.
One noteworthy aspect of this collaboration is the US’s support for SAF’s overseas training, exemplified by Exercise Forging Sabre. This training, conducted at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, has played a pivotal role in honing the skills of RSAF personnel.
In 2023, two RSAF detachments, Peace Carvin II (F-16 fighter aircraft) and Peace Vanguard (Apache AH-64 helicopters), marked their 30th and 20th anniversaries of training in the US, respectively. These milestones are a testament to the enduring nature of the Singapore-US defence relationship.
The 13th Singapore-US Strategic Security Policy Dialogue not only reaffirmed the steadfast commitment of both nations to their long-standing defence partnership but also showcased their readiness to adapt to the evolving security landscape.
As reports cited the inclusion of cybersecurity and critical emerging technologies in the discussions reflects the forward-thinking approach to safeguarding the national interests of both nations. As they continue to train together, exchange knowledge, and invest in cutting-edge technologies, Singapore and the US are poised to navigate the complex challenges of the future, hand in hand.