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Singapore minister warns of growing security threat in prospering Asian economies


As economic opportunities grow in the region, so will the number of tech-enabled crimes and security threats, Singapore Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam warned on Wednesday.

Coupled with burgeoning travel, homeland security departments face an uphill task of tackling more of such problems with limited resources, he said.

“Over the next five to seven years, economic opportunities will explode. There’ll be a lot more infrastructure. There’s travelling that’s going to skyrocket, even more than what is happening now,” he said.

“All this would be very good for this region. But at the same time, it does mean more problems… because we (homeland security agencies) will be expected to do much more with the same amount of resources, or maybe marginally increased resources.” The minister was delivering the opening remarks on the first day of the Milipol Asia-Pacific and TechX Summit, being held here from April 3 to 5.

The summit plays host to prominent government officials, industry leaders and academia, who will discuss issues such as emerging security threats and new security technologies. An accompanying trade exhibition showcases the latest innovations in homeland security.

Festive offer

More than 10,000 participants from around the world are expected at the event, which is themed Powering Innovation: A Safe and Secure Future.

Shanmugam said that to tackle the growing security issues, international partnerships and collaboration needed to be strengthened, especially in the area of technology development, adding that the borderless nature of tech-enabled crimes requires solutions that go beyond borders.

“My view is that it is important to build a strong ecosystem between the government, industry, and academia. These partnerships will create opportunities for us to tap on each other’s expertise and sharpen our capabilities to be at the forefront of innovation,” The Straits Times quoted the Minister as saying.

He noted that HTX has delivered much for Singapore since it was formed five years ago, including in the development of cyborg cockroaches, video analytics for prison cameras and the use of artificial intelligence in immigration systems.

The minister said Singapore has already been collaborating with the French on a range of projects in border security, command and control systems, and biometrics and profiling.

“For decades, the French Ministry of Interior has shown far-sightedness in organising the Milipol network of events, which brings together global law enforcement communities, to collaborate on technology for homeland security,” he said.

“France has been a very valuable and supportive partner, together with our other partners in this region.” France’s Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin, who also spoke at the launch of the event, said Singapore was a “natural choice” as a partner for the Milipol trade shows because of its central role in the field of research and innovation, and in the area of security technologies.

He added that the cooperation between the homeland security departments was crucial in tackling the new and emerging threats.

Darmanin said this included artificial intelligence, which impacts individual liberties and responsibility, with ramifications that stretch beyond just the legal, but also to the anthropological and philosophical.

He said: “The context has changed. The strategic environment in which we operate has been shaken up by cyber and digital concerns and artificial intelligence.

“We have entered a new era and must face up to all of its implications. The reality is that it has only just begun,” the Singapore broadsheet had the minister as saying.





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