Book chronicling Singapore's tech journey over 30 years launched

Intelligent Island: The Untold Story of Singapore's Tech Journey follows the stories of pioneers and trailblazers of the infocomm industry here.
Intelligent Island: The Untold Story of Singapore's Tech Journey follows the stories of pioneers and trailblazers of the infocomm industry here.ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM
Co-curators of the book Grace Chng (left) and P. Ramakrishna (right)  with Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information at the book launch.
Co-curators of the book Grace Chng (left) and P. Ramakrishna (right) with Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information at the book launch.ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

SINGAPORE - A new book that profiles the minds and sheds light on the thought processes behind Singapore's infocomm industry over three decades was launched on Tuesday (June 13).

The book, called Intelligent Island: The Untold Story of Singapore's Tech Journey, was commissioned by the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF), and follows the stories of pioneers and trailblazers of the infocomm industry here.

It was launched by Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim at the The Pod at the National Library Board.

One of the major tech developments Intelligent Island documents is the computerisation of Singapore's private and public sectors, said Ms Grace Chng, one of the co-curators of the book.

Ms Chng, who has 30 years of journalism experience and is a former Straits Times senior correspondent who specialised in technology, added that one of the challenges the tech sector faced in the past was finding talent.

She noted the gargantuan task that faced the civil service in the 1980s as it was trying to grow its pool of IT professionals from about 850 to 10,000 people in a bid to computerise Singapore.

Mr Bill Liu who is the chairman of Stream Global, wrote a chapter on manpower development in the book, said that this task was to be accomplished by the end of the decade at the time.

"The challenge really was the numbers. We wanted to computerise but we needed enough computer professionals to keep up and we needed to do it fast," he said.

Looking to the future, Mr P. Ramakrishna, the book's other co-curator, said that while Singapore's past tech developments mean that the country's infrastructure today is good, the nation could improve on its tech ecosystem going forward.

He said: "Companies nowadays are born global. What we need to do now is to make sure the ecosystem is in place to allow the local companies to expand and become international."

Mr Ramakrishna, a former director at the then Infocomm Development Authority's industry development division, said that this ecosystem involves intellectual property laws, marketing as well as financing options and opportunities.

Intelligent Island took 18 months of work involving seven writers and two co-curators.

The 256-page book will be available for purchase from Tuesday for $53.50 (with GST) on SiTF's website.