Think Tank (3/2021)
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ROK-SG Cooperation for the Post-COVID-19 Era: Resilience and Innovation
28 May 2021
Eugene Tan

The 5th Korea-Singapore Forum (KSF) took place on 28 May 2021 with engaging discussions by representatives from both countries. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges that have resulted in massive disruptions to our way of life and how we conduct businesses. Held under Chatham House rules, speakers at the KSF addressed the issues that both countries are facing, and highlighted opportunities for greater bilateral cooperation to create a safer and more resilient future.

The first panel, “ROK-SG Cooperation for Resilience in a Post-COVID-19 World”, highlighted the ongoing efforts by both countries to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. It provided an overview of the ROK’s (Republic of Korea) approaches which include the Test-Trace-Treat (3T) strategy, social distancing measures, community engagement, and vaccination. Singapore’s strategy, grounded on four key pillars namely enhanced surveillance, active case finding, containment, and importation reduction, was also highlighted. The panellists noted the similarities between the ROK’s and Singapore’s strategies, suggesting that there are many potential areas for bilateral cooperation. On top of information sharing among global and regional networks, human capital development is also critical. In addition, businesses have been re-examining their business models and supply chains to improve their resilience, and are adapting their operations as the situation evolves. Labour intensive industries should adapt to the new digital environment by looking into smart manufacturing and digital supply chain management.

The second panel titled “ROK-SG Partnership in Innovation” focused on the opportunities and challenges present in the fields of cybersecurity and smart cities in both the ROK and Singapore. It touched upon the importance of international cooperation for cybersecurity and its implications for smart cities, and also highlighted the importance of a national strategy to guide technological development. The panel also shared the ROK’s experience in developing eco smart cities and provided an update of the country’s involvement in the ASEAN Smart Cities Network. Speakers on the panel recommended three areas that require further study, namely: (i) issue of energy use in smart cities; (ii) need to improve citizen participation in smart cities; and (iii) the kind of smart cities that states want.

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