Six new members join Emerging Stronger Taskforce, including from labour, sustainability and medical sectors

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and National Development Minister Desmond Lee giving an update on the Emerging Stronger Taskforce at PSA Horizons on Nov 19, 2020.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and National Development Minister Desmond Lee giving an update on the Emerging Stronger Taskforce at PSA Horizons on Nov 19, 2020.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - Six new members have been appointed to the task force charting the direction of Singapore's economic recovery post-Covid-19, to bring in new perspectives as the team explores new areas of growth opportunities.

The newcomers to the Emerging Stronger Taskforce (EST), which will now have 23 members in total, include Ms Jessie Yeo, executive secretary of the Singapore Port Workers Union and human resource director of the National Trades Union Congress.

"The work of the EST is important as it will have a direct impact on our workers and the skills that they will need, to thrive in the future economy. I look forward to building on the work of the EST and the Alliances for Action (AfAs) to strengthen this perspective on jobs and skills," she said at a press conference on Thursday (Nov 19).

The AfAs are industry-led coalitions tasked to devise ideas and generate new jobs in growth areas. There are currently seven such groups in areas such as sustainability, robotics and education technology, with an eighth one on medical technology or medtech being formed.

Another new appointee, conservation science, technology and policy expert Koh Lian Pin, will join the AfA on sustainability.

Professor Koh, the director of the Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions at the National University of Singapore, said climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing Singapore, and the task force aims to build a sustainability hub and create an ecosystem for players from different sectors, such as the built environment, renewable energy, agriculture, waste management and finance.

"What we hope to achieve is to identify new economic opportunities that could help to build Singapore's climate resilience and resource resilience, as well as to protect and preserve our natural ecosystems," he said.

Announcing the additions on Thursday, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said: "They will bring new and diverse contributions to the work of the EST, especially in areas of opportunity that the AfAs are pursuing, such as sustainability and medtech."

The other newcomers include:

- Mr Amos Leong, president and chief executive officer of Univac Group;

- Mr Andrew Kwan, founder and group managing director of Commonwealth Capital;

- Dr Azlinda Anwar, director of grants and intellectual property administration and coordinating director of Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory; and

- Dr Fidah Alsagoff, joint head of Enterprise Development Group and head of life sciences at Temasek International.

The task force, which was announced by MTI in May this year, had drawn criticisms that it lacked representation in terms of gender, minority groups and vulnerable communities, among others.

National Development Minister Desmond Lee, who co-chairs the task force, said at the press conference on Thursday that the new members were added due to their expertise in new growth areas identified during discussions.

"The growth of the EST is a result of the opportunities that we have identified and want to seize. For example, we've brought in new members who will be able to help us drive medtech, to be able to push on our AfA on sustainability, in particular on nature-based solutions," he said.

"So while we hoist on board people's suggestions that the EST needs to be more diverse, I think we grow our diversity in order to achieve the outcomes that we seek to achieve."

Mr Lee added that the task force operates under the Future Economy Council, and noted that the council and its subcommittees "are diverse and tripartite in nature".

An open letter calling for more diverse representation was signed by over 45 individuals and submitted to the government in June, saying that the pandemic has highlighted vulnerabilities in society and economy, and calling for those who have been most affected to be included in rebuilding a Singapore that can better withstand future shocks,

The writers included then Nominated MPs Anthea Ong and Walter Theseira and representatives from Artsolute, the Nature Society (Singapore) and the Disabled People's Association, among others.

The EST's other co-chair is Mr Tan Chong Meng, group chief executive officer of PSA International.

Its other members are:

- Mr Caesar Sengupta, vice-president of payments and Next Billion Users at Google;

- Ms Dilys Boey, assistant chief executive officer of Enterprise Singapore;

- Mr Edmund Koh, president of UBS Asia Pacific and UBS AG and member of the UBS Group executive board;

- Mr Gan Seow Kee, chairman and managing director of ExxonMobil Asia Pacific;

- Ms Kwee Wei-Lin, president of the Singapore Hotel Association and head of hotels for Pontiac Land Group;

- Mr Lee Chee Koon, group chief executive officer of CapitaLand;

- Mr Lee Seow Hiang, chief executive officer of Changi Airport Group;

- Mr Lim Ming Yan, chairman of the Singapore Business Federation;

- Dr Loo Choon Yong, executive chairman and co-founder of Raffles Medical Group;

- Mr Peter Ho, chief executive officer of HOPE Technik;

- Mr Piyush Gupta, chief executive officer of DBS Group;

- Mr Sunny Verghese, co-founder and group chief executive officer of Olam International;

- Mr Tan Chin Hwee, chief executive officer for Asia Pacific at Trafigura;

- Mr Vincent Chong, president and chief executive officer of ST Engineering; and

- Mr Ye Gang, co-founder and group chief operating officer of Seagroup.