Former minister Lim Hwee Hua launches book on governance, regulatory challenges amid tech disruption

In her book, former minister Lim Hwee Hua reflects on how Covid-19 has dramatically shifted public expectations of the extent of government intervention needed, among other issues.
In her book, former minister Lim Hwee Hua reflects on how Covid-19 has dramatically shifted public expectations of the extent of government intervention needed, among other issues.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - A new book by former minister in the Prime Minister's Office Lim Hwee Hua is peppered with case studies from Singapore and around the world on a wide range of issues facing governments today as they grapple with rapid technological change and disruption.

These include how to regulate fintech, partnering the private sector on sustainability, and managing market failure in infrastructure development.

The 315-page book - titled Government In Business: Leading Or Lagging? - is divided into seven chapters. Chapter one covers the challenges facing regulators, especially in technology-oriented sectors such as fintech and the sharing economy.

The remaining chapters discuss cryptocurrencies, sustainability and climate change, state-owned enterprises and government bailouts, infrastructure development, and managing national security and strategic considerations.

In the final part, Mrs Lim reflects on how Covid-19 has dramatically shifted public expectations of the extent of government intervention needed, and the difficulties of prescribing the most appropriate level of regulation.

"Add to that the misalignment between the tendency towards short-term, populist responses and the usually long-term solutions that are needed for major national challenges," she writes, citing infrastructure development and climate change as examples of such major challenges.

Her first book in 2014, Government In Business: Friend Or Foe, set out the arguments for and against state involvement in business.

Mrs Lim entered politics in 1997. In 2009, she made history as the first woman to serve in Singapore's Cabinet when she was appointed Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Finance, and Second Minister for Transport. She was also Deputy Speaker of Parliament and chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, which scrutinises the management and use of public funds.

She last contested in Aljunied GRC in the 2011 General Election, where her team led by then Foreign Minister George Yeo lost to the opposition Workers' Party.

She has since rejoined the private sector and currently holds several positions in private equity, financial and maritime services.