CXO Breakfast Talk – In Conversation with Dr. Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Ministry of Communications & Information & Ministry of Education, and Minister-in-charge of GovTech.

Dr Janil Puthucheary addressing the audience

At the recent CXO breakfast talk with the infocomm media (ICM) industry leaders, Dr. Janil Puthucheary delved on the strategic considerations for the decision making of the smart nation implementation and highlighted on why it was going to be an on-going process.

 “We have not defined the landing point of the end of the smart nation journey,” adding that without a set date the opportunity to redefine the smart nation project is possible.


Dr Janil explained to the audience that as the implementing agency of the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) under the Prime Minister’s office, GovTech provides an opportunity to reconsider policies that will allow for economic and business processes transformation. With experts from different ministries with varied policy making experiences in GovTech, Dr. Janil is confident on what can be achieved with the smart nation transformation.

“The structure we have chosen can give you a sense of what we are prepared to undertake ourselves and the type and scale of change on our economy,” said Dr. Janil.

Highlighting three projects of national importance, he devoted much of his time explaining the strategic values of each:

  1. epayments, the government has been encouraging the pervasive use of epayment which is seen as a key enabler of the digital economy. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has been leading in addressing a systematic rollout of benefits e.g. using NRIC on mobile devices as a single placeholder to permit money transfer without keying in the bank details.
  2. Sensor Data, a combination of IoT devices to co-ordinate, collaborate and co-develop across the public sector to be far more data driven around policy regulation and governance.
  3. National digital identity to pervasively increase its adoption so that authentication of identity is done remotely. 

Dr. Janil assured the corporate leaders that the public sector will continue to open up data, at the same time encouraging the private sector to make their data available for public policy governance without reducing their competitive advantage. 

He then spoke about the four key areas of technology development that promises downstream benefits: AI and Big Data, Cybersecurity, Immersive Media & VR, IoT.

“We want to develop all kinds of players, small and big, large MNCs, SMEs, startups to scale up. What’s changing is the flavour and types of companies, type of regulatory framework, type of interface between private and public sector,” he said before touching on the need to develop the talent pool to service this transformative approach.

Following his hour long presentation, Dr Janil engaged the audience in a lively dialogue on a wide range of topics, from talent development to developing IP in Singapore.


Andrew Chow, the organizing Chairman of the CXO Breakfast Talk series and President of ST  Electronics (Info-Comm Systems) asked about the stumbling blocks on adopting epayments and the national identification system in Singapore.

Dr Janil recognised that the biggest barrier is our “prior success as we are not starting on a blank slate unlike other countries.  We have gone down this digitalization route for some time and have fair amount of prior success.  There must be the willingness to accept the degradation of our current standards as the public sector has a lower appetite to accept the change,” adding that these changes must be implemented appropriately and over time without disrupting the economy.

Oliver Arscott, Conference Director from Terrapinn enquired whether the Ministry of Education will do same for EdTech as MAS is doing for fintech.

Dr Janil elaborated that the use of technology in delivering must be separated from the understanding of technology. He recognized that there are real opportunities to leverage on technology to improve the efficiency and effectiveness in the education space, like automating the administrative processes. However, he said, “on the next level on how to operationalize education, we are going to make a big push but not mandating to allow different schools to use different technological tools and services to have some degree of experimentation.”

Andrew Chow and Dr Janil Puthucheary engaged in a dialogue

We thank our sponsors Cloudera, Huawei, SANS, SP Telecom and TmaxSoft for their generous support.  

For sponsorship opportunities for the next CXO Breakfast Talk , please contact Jacquie Khoo at 6325 9713 or