From AI governance to clean energy, Ministers Jo Teo and Tan See Leng at Davos 

24/01/2024
davos 2024 sg

It was the annual meeting of world leaders high up in the alpine town of Davos last week (Jan 15 – 19). Representing Singapore are Ministers Josephine Teo, Dr Tan See Leng and our newly minted president, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who spoke about fiscal reforms and the climate crisis. At Petir.sg, we are happy to see our president continuing to fly the Singapore flag high with our two ministers on the international stage. So, here’s a snapshot of what went down in Davos.  

Josephine Teo: Staying one step ahead on AI governance  

The age of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is upon us. But what will humans do if robots start to annihilate jobs, perpetuate crime and turn the human mind obsolete? These questions are clearly on our minds, including Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo, a panellist in a session on AI regulations.  

“Our interest in AI governance is not necessarily only in regulations…there are also other important things to do,” said Minister Teo. For example, you must have the infrastructure to support the development and build capabilities within the enterprise and in individuals, added the Minister.  

Will Singapore be ready for these changes to usher in a fourth industrial revolution? We believe so with a government that stays one step ahead of the game. These days, schools are equipping students with AI knowledge. MPs have also called for a whole-of-nation approach to confront the challenges of a digital society. In addition, Minister Teo announced a new AI Governance Framework at Davos, which aims to address concerns with generative AI (e.g. the infamous ChatGPT). All of which are part of a digital journey that goes way back to the 1980s.  

Dr Tan See Leng: Moving Singapore towards clean energy

For Minister of Manpower Dr Tan See Leng, it’s all about going green to address the climate emergency. Think hotter days and warmer nights, not to mention extreme dry and wet spells and a rising sea level. These might be what Singapore will experience by the end of the century if the predictions from the Third National Climate Change Study come true.  

In light of this, what can a responsible government do? Planning ahead and having the political will to achieve net-zero emissions is one. This is why governments should take the lead in developing low-carbon technologies, said Minister Tan.  

Besides scaling up the infrastructure to support and to cater for zero carbon ammonia as a shipping fuel, Singapore is developing new concepts of aviation green lanes to improve the environmental impact of air travel, added Minister Tan.  

And now that we are on the topic of clean energy, it was inevitable that the conversation turned towards carbon premiums. While grumbles were aplenty when Singapore increased its carbon tax, here is also where the government distinguishes itself.  

“Singapore is one of the first countries in the region to impose a carbon tax…We are committed to making sure that whatever we collect for the carbon tax is ploughed back into the development of renewable and low-carbon energy research,” said Minister Tan. And on top of that, targeted subsidies to help lower and middle-income households with their utility bills. All in all, a balanced approach to help Singaporeans in the present while preserving our environment for the future.  

Photo Source: World Economic Forum