My cabinet colleague and friend Mr Heng Sweet Keat
Honourable ASEAN Ministers
Delegates from ASEAN Member states
Excellencies
Ladies and Gentlemen

A very Good Morning to all of you.


Opening

I would like to first start by welcoming all of you to Singapore and to the 14th Conference of ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information (AMRI) and Related Meetings.  It is an honour and pleasure for Singapore to host the 14th AMRI and Related Meetings especially in Singapore’s Chairmanship of ASEAN this year.

2 I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of the Philippines during their Chairmanship of AMRI.  They launched a series of activities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of ASEAN which also raised the awareness of the region among our people.

3 We in Singapore look forward to working together with all ASEAN partners to build on that momentum through a fruitful AMRI meeting today. 

Inclusive and Informed Digital ASEAN

4 Our theme for the 14th AMRI is an ‘Inclusive and Informed Digital ASEAN’.  It is timely and apt as we aim to nurture a digitally ready ASEAN and fuel digital growth in the region.  ASEAN, like the rest of the world, is undergoing a digital transformation.  Our citizens, all our citizens, need to be prepared for this new age of digital information and technology.  We must ensure that no one is left behind in this digital revolution that is sweeping across the globe.  Digitalisation democratises the economy by empowering Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to access distant markets and shared services; it can enhance the quality of government services rendered to citizens; it allows workers with the right skills to take on better and more fulfilling jobs.  If we adopt the right strategies, we believe ASEAN will be well-positioned as a vibrant and successful region in the globalised digital economy and new media sectors. 

5 ASEAN has done well over the last 50 years.  Although we are a diverse region comprising different ethnicities, cultures and languages, we also share a common ASEAN identity.  The information and media sectors will continue to play an important role in helping us to forge and reinforce this unified ASEAN regional identity by creating unique ASEAN content which leverages different media platforms. 

6 Also, as information becomes increasingly accessible on digital platforms due to the advances in technology, misinformation becomes as prevalent and problematic.  Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the digital space remains one that is safe, reliable and conducive for everyone to interact with one another freely and with confidence.  Hence, as fellow members of ASEAN, we must work closely together to promote socially responsible online behaviour, as well as to minimise the harmful effects of online falsehoods. 

Conclusion

7 Today, we are happy to have Mr Heng Swee Keat, our Finance Minister, as our Guest-of-Honour.  I have had the pleasure of  working closely with Mr Heng on Singapore’s Committee of the Future Economy. I know that he is keenly aware of the importance of seizing opportunities in a digitally connected economy and society in order to improve lives and improve the quality of living for our people.  He chairs our Future Economy Council in Singapore and that drives many of our initiatives in the economic sphere in response to the transformation we see across the world. So I would like to Thank Mr Heng for joining us this morning and we look forward to hearing your insights and perspectives which will help inform our deliberations at the AMRI meeting.  

8 I want to conclude by once again warmly welcoming all our ASEAN partners to the 14th Conference of ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information.  We look forward to interesting discussions and a fruitful meeting.

9 Thank you.