Singapore, Austria share digital aspiration: PM Lee

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz meeting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana yesterday. Both leaders said Austria and Singapore could boost cooperation and strengthen ties between Europe and South-east Asia in the course of Austria's EU pr
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz meeting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana yesterday. Both leaders said Austria and Singapore could boost cooperation and strengthen ties between Europe and South-east Asia in the course of Austria's EU presidency and Singapore's Asean chairmanship.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

He expresses confidence both countries will reach substantial, valuable MOU in digitalisation

Singapore and Austria are discussing an agreement in digitalisation, an area in which both countries have "more than an interest, almost an obsession", said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

"We are discussing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between our two countries and I'm sure we will be able to work out one which is substantial and valuable to all sides," said PM Lee at a lunch that he hosted for Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who is on a three-day official visit to Singapore ending today.

The free trade agreement (FTA) between Singapore and the European Union will be signed this year during Austria's term as president of the EU, said PM Lee.

Mr Kurz, for his part, said the EU-Singapore FTA was in everyone's interest and that Austria would do its best to ensure the deal happened.

Both leaders expressed commitment towards free trade and a rules-based multilateral system during the meeting, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in a statement.

Both leaders, in their speeches during the toast, said Austria and Singapore could boost cooperation and strengthen ties between Europe and South-east Asia, in the course of Austria's EU presidency and Singapore's Asean chairmanship.

PM Lee said Austria and Singapore could do more to create new areas of cooperation between the two countries and their regions.

Mr Kurz said both regions could work together to better coordinate their efforts in tackling climate change and improving cyber security...

While Austria hopes to learn from Singapore in areas such as education and government technology, it also hopes to contribute in engineering equipment, medical technology and infrastructure, he said.

Similarly, Mr Kurz said both regions could work together to better coordinate their efforts in tackling climate change and improving cyber security.

Mr Kurz said: "Enhancing the relationship between the EU and Asia, and more importantly the Asean countries, is very important to us."

While Austria hopes to learn from Singapore in areas such as education and government technology, it also hopes to contribute in engineering equipment, medical technology and infrastructure, he said.

After lunch yesterday, he visited Singapore Polytechnic to observe how it uses technology to aid teaching and learning.

PM Lee noted that Singapore has used many Austrian civil engineering technologies. For instance, the skylights at Changi Airport Terminal 3, which adjust automatically to the sun and allow soft natural light to enter, were designed by Austrian lighting design expert Bartenbach.

PM Lee also noted the common efforts at digital transformation.

For instance, Austria launched its Digital Roadmap two years ago to help citizens and businesses benefit from digitalisation.

Similarly, Singapore launched its Digital Readiness Blueprint two months ago, setting out the Government's plans to prepare Singaporeans and Singapore firms for a digital world. It has similar road maps to transform the public service and be a leading digital economy.

 

Also, Austria has set up a new ministry to coordinate its digital transformation efforts, including putting in place e-government services and adapting its legal framework, while Singapore has its Smart Nation and Digital Government Group under the Prime Minister's Office.

After lunch, Mr Kurz witnessed the signing of five MOUs between Singapore start-ups and Austria's Global Incubator Network, which connects start-ups with investors.

The Austrian leader called on President Halimah Yacob earlier in the day, and both reaffirmed the warm and friendly relations between the two countries, which share interests as small states, said the MFA. They also exchanged views on education, social integration policies, and global and regional developments.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2018, with the headline 'Singapore, Austria share digital aspiration: PM Lee'. Print Edition | Subscribe