Keynote Speech By Mdm Rahayu Mahzam, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry Of Health And Ministry Of Law, At Rajah And Tann Asia’s Data And Digital Economy Revolution Conference
09 May 2023 Posted in [Speeches]
Mr Lee Eng Beng SC, Chairperson, Rajah & Tann Asia
Mr Patrick Ang, Managing Partner, Rajah & Tann Singapore
Ladies and gentlemen
1. A very good morning to everyone.
2. And to those who are joining us virtually, good morning, good afternoon or good evening, wherever you are.
3. Thank you for inviting me to this conference.
II. DATA AND DIGITAL ECONOMY AS A GROWTH AREA
4. I understand that this conference serves as the launch of Rajah & Tann Asia’s Data & Digital Economy showcase, where you will introduce 10 curated services lines to better service your clients in the space of Data and Digital Economy.
5. This would not have been possible without Mr Patrick Ang’s leadership and support for the firm’s technology push, and Mr Lee Eng Beng’s coordination across the Rajah & Tann Asia network. Congratulations!
6. The launch of these services could not be timelier.
7. As we know, the world is changing rapidly. Technology and data are transforming many aspects of our lives and the way we do business.
a. The digital economy comprises billions of everyday online connections among people, businesses, devices and processes.
b. E-commerce, e-payment and digital marketing are but some of the examples of how we leverage technology to digitalise processes and drive business growth.
8. In one of Deloitte’s reports, they call “hyperconnectivity” the backbone of the digital economy.
a. I could not agree more.
b. It is the growing interconnectedness of people, organisations and machines resulting from the internet, mobile devices and internet of things, that keep the digital economy going.
9. But I would also add that, besides this “hyperconnectivity” backbone, we also need “data” as the lifeblood of the digital economy, giving it strength and vitality.
a. Businesses rely on data to make informed decisions.
b. Businesses require data to innovate and develop products and services that speak to the customers’ needs.
c. Businesses analyse data to create targeted marketing campaigns to reach the right audience at the right time.
- In sum, data and digital economy has formed and will continue to form an integral part in the future of business.
III. IMPORTANCE OF DATA AND DIGITAL ECONOMY TO SINGAPORE
- For Singapore, data and digital economy is a new engine for economic and productivity growth.
a. The Singapore Digital Economy has generated strong growth for Singapore. In particular, the Information and Communications (I&C) sector has grown by 13.4% and 8.6% in 2021 and 2022 respectively.
b. The digital economy creates jobs. Amazon Web Services (AWS) reported that Singapore will need 1.2 million additional digital workers by 2025, up from the current 2.2 million, to remain competitive. The top five in-demand skills are cloud architecture design, cybersecurity, software operations support, web/software/game development and large-scale data modelling.
c. The rise of the digital economy has accelerated digital transformation and enhanced the productivity of businesses. In fact, a survey by IMDA found that as of February 2023, 93% of businesses in Singapore have adopted some form of digital technology, marking an increase of 19% from 2018.
- On the point about productivity, for all you know, I might have used ChatGPT to write my speech today!
- But on a more serious note, Singapore’s digital economy has grown exponentially and is expected to grow further, following the trends in the region.
- To ensure that we continue to have slice of the growing pie, we have made significant efforts to develop our digital economy.
a. We have invested in our digital infrastructure, including high-speed broadband networks and data centres. We are the top in Asia, and fourth in the world, in the IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking.
b. We are focusing on developing digital skills in our workforce. SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) has over 4,300 training courses in the area of Information and Communications. To facilitate new entrants into the industry, SSG has also rolled out at least 40 Skills Future Transition Programme courses to enable mid-career switches into the sector. IMDA is also driving the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) initiative to develop a skilled ICT workforce for Singapore’s digital economy.
c. We have also strengthened our digital connectivity with international partners through our network of Digital Economy Agreements (DEAs).
i. To date, we have concluded four DEAs with five countries, including Australia, the UK, Korea, Chile and New Zealand. Our DEAs aim to lower business costs, increase business efficiency and help our companies seize new economic opportunities when engaging in cross-border digital trade.
ii. On the multilateral front, Singapore is also leading efforts this year to set global baseline digital trade rules at the World Trade Organisation through the Joint Statement Initiative on E-Commerce (JSI).
IV. LEGAL SERVICES IN THE DIGITAL ECONOMY
- With so much happening in the data and digital economy space, I see two immediate opportunities for the legal services sector.
- First, legal services that support the growth of digital economy.
a. As transactions between technology companies increase, the demand for related legal service is expected to increase correspondingly.
- M&A involving technology companies is a good example.
a. In Asia Pacific, technology was the top sector for deal volumes in a good part of 2022, accounting for about 17% of all M&A activities, largely attributed to the increase in M&A relating to emerging technologies, such as metaverse infrastructure, AI and cloud computing.
b. While increased interest rates and depressed equity prices have hampered two critical capital levers in 2023, companies with strong balance sheets will remain well-positioned to transact in this capital-constrained environment.
c. This will support demand for legal services work not only for M&A, but also valuation of digital assets, cyber security due diligence, and antitrust and competition advisory work.
- Further, as technology-related transactions and users of digital platforms increase, technology-related claims and disputes are also expected to rise.
a. This will drive the demand for dispute resolution, in particular arbitration, given the confidential nature of certain technologies and the need for speedy resolution. The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law has begun to look into the implications of the growing digital economy on dispute resolution, including issues such as due process and fairness in the dispute resolution process, and model clauses and guidance for technology-related dispute resolution.
- The second opportunity is the demand for advice on legal and regulatory issues, novel or otherwise.
a. While digital technology creates new business opportunities, it also creates new legal and regulatory issues, such as data protection, IP ownership, territoriality, jurisdiction and conflict of laws.
b. For example, how should creative and artistic works, brands, trade marks, and designs be protected in a virtual environment? What additional factors should be kept in mind when applying for trade mark protection, and how should they be enforced in the event of infringement?
V. RIDING ON THE WAVE OF OPPORTUNITIES
- Given these opportunities, the question is how our legal services providers can position themselves to support and capture the growth of the digital economy.
- My view is that we must continue to invest in two areas – capability development and infrastructure.
- Capability development: Many would agree with me that matters can be complex in the continuously evolving space of data and digital economy.
a. But lawyers are expected to be well versed and cut through the complexities.
b. They are expected to provide practical legal solutions, with an appreciation of commercial realities, to deal with the clients’ business problems, regardless of how novel the legal issues may be.
- To support this pursuit, MinLaw will be launching an industry-wide secondment programme, to deepen lawyers’ capabilities in important markets and growth areas, such as technology and M&A.
- We are targeting an intake of 30 lawyers each year, at steady state, with the aim to support Singapore lawyers in building up technical expertise and broadening their networks.
- The Singapore Academy of Law has also introduced the Specialist Accreditation Scheme in Data and Digital Economy to confer recognition of a legal practitioner’s expertise and experience in the area of data and digital economy.
- Infrastructure wise, the Ministry of Law has developed the Legal Technology Platform (LTP), which we launched in July 2022, to support Singapore law firms to enhance their productivity and consistency of work quality.
a. As the digital economy is fast-moving, deals and disputes also move quickly.
b. Law firms must leverage technology to keep up, increase their speed, accuracy and consistency to remain competitive and provide quality service to their clients.
c. I am happy to see that Rajah & Tann has also adopted the LTP and has been customising it for various practice groups.
- The conference today will feature expert speakers, who will explore how businesses can realise opportunities and better navigate the data and digital economy landscape.
- They will share with us the insights from the case studies drawn from Rajah & Tann Asia’s experience, to demonstrate practical guidance for businesses to re-engineer themselves to perform in the evolving economy.
- I hope you are as excited as I am to hear from them, and I wish all of you a fruitful conference!
Last updated on 09 May 2023