TL;DR – He was on his way to China for a nine-day working visit.
Flying for work is never fun. I know. I was just on a 14-hour work flight. Often, you are working on the flight. Don’t believe me?
This is Minister for Finance, Heng Swee Keat, on his flight to Nanjing:
That was an image of Minster Heng shortly after he boarded the flight. It was taken by someone on the same flight and was circulated on WeChat.
According to that person, Minister Heng started looking through documents the moment he got to his seat. The sunlight entering the cabin was very glaring. But because the window shades had to be up as the flight was about to take off, Minister Heng had to use his coat to provide some shade to reduce the glare as he continued to go through the documents.
Chinese media site Redants.sg reached out to the person who took that photo and found out that Minister Heng was in the business class section of the Scoot flight. Redants also found out that Minister Heng worked throughout most of the flight, only resting intermittently.
Minister Heng was on his way to China for a nine-day working visit. His first stop was the inaugural Sino-Singapore Artificial Intelligence Forum held at the Singapore Nanjing Eco Hi-Tech Island, where he delivered the keynote address.
He highlighted the significant economic potential that AI could bring. According to consulting firm McKinsey, AI could create an estimated US$3.5 trillion (S$4.7 trillion) to US$5.8 trillion in annual value for the global economy.
However, to realise that potential, governments, businesses, academia and the public have to work together. Minister Heng pointed out that the government can do its part by putting in place robust regulatory framework that builds public trust and promotes experimentation and innovation that will encourage the adoption of AI technologies.
The regulatory sandboxes in Singapore are examples of what governments can do. In regulatory sandboxes, legal and regulatory requirements are relaxed, so firms can test bed their solutions in real but contained environments. They allow the Government to have a keen understanding of emerging technologies and new business models while staying alert to potential risks.
Minister Heng then invited businesses and entrepreneurs from China to test bed their solutions in Singapore’s regulatory sandboxes. He said there was also potential for Singapore and China companies to form partnerships and test bed AI technologies in ASEAN cities.
Such collaborations will follow the tradition of win-win partnerships between China and Singapore. That’s something that is built upon the strong foundation of deep and close relationship between China and Singapore. Minister Heng will seek to deepen that relationship throughout the rest of his trip.
After Nanjing, Minister Heng will travel to Shanghai and Beijing, where he will meet Chinese leaders.
That sounds like quite a packed trip. Just thinking about it is making me tired. Or maybe that’s the jet lag. In any case, I hope Minister Heng’s business trip is a success and we’ll see closer collaboration between Chinese and Singaporean AI companies. I would love to see the sort of innovation and benefits that such a collaboration would bring.
Meanwhile, you can read Minister Heng’s full speech here.