SGTech Chair's Speech at the SGTech 40th Anniversary Gala Dinner



Our Chair spoke about reaching this significant milestone at our 40th Anniversary Gala


SGTech, the leading trade association for the tech industry in Singapore, marked its 40th anniversary on 1 September 2022 with a gala dinner at the Ritz-Carlton Ballroom. The event was graced by Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Heng Swee Keat, Senior Minister of State (SMS) for Sustainability and the Environment Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for National Development and Communications and Information Tan Kiat How, and Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Defence Zaqy Mohamad.

With the theme ‘Priming for The Future’, the gala dinner celebrated the tech industry association’s journey over the last four decades, by hosting up to 1,000 corporate leaders from the tech community at the event. SGTech has sent a strong signal that it is able to rally a wider range of stakeholders to chart the future of Singapore’s tech sector.

Below is the Speech by Mr Wong Wai Meng at the SGTech 40th Anniversary Gala Dinner as he shares his views on this significant milestone.

Ministers, Your Excellencies, SGTech Board of Governors, Fellow Presidents of Trade Associations & Chambers, Leaders of Tech companies and fellow members of SGTech Ladies and Gentlemen, a very good evening.

We are honoured to have you witness, and celebrate with us, SGTech’s 40th anniversary, a significant milestone on our journey. I made a wish during our Techblazer Awards, 24 January this year, up here, that we can all be together physically in the same hall in the next event.  And here we are, MASKS OFF! I managed to fit into my tuxedo.  And I can see many of you can fit (or squeeze) into your suits and gowns too. Congratulations!

To celebrate birthdays, the Chinese have a custom of eating noodles garnished with an egg. So, I’ll start by sharing a quote about eggs.

“If an egg is broken by an outside force, life ends. If an egg is broken from the inside, life begins.” 

In the context of the multiple transformations during SGTech’s brief 40-year history, the association has reinvented itself – created new beginnings – many times.The association has stepped through 5 identities as we merged, evolved our scope and embraced new constituents. 

We started as the SFCI [Singapore Federation of the Computing Industry] in 1982, then merged with the MCTAS [Micro Computer Trade Association of Singapore] in 1999 to become the SITF [Singapore Information Technology Federation], renamed ourselves to the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation in 2003 to include the growing communications technology sector, and eventually became SGTech in 2018.

Strategic Transformation

SGTech is stepping into Year 2 of our 5 year transformation journey, to ensure our relevance to members and the wider community, well into the future.  

Because the tech sector is horizontal and vertical, SGTech is extending our charter to also serve companies that have technology at the core of their business, [email protected] in short.

Our vision is to build a thriving ecosystem that propels Singapore forward as a global tech powerhouse. To realise this vision, we have crafted our strategy, which is led by 3 thrusts.  

Firstly, to position Singapore as a global node for digital and data, built on trust. 

Secondly, to lead the tech sector to take collective action and be part of the solution to Singapore's and global Sustainability. 

Thirdly, we will continue to champion Talent for Tech, to power the growth of the industry and the broader Singapore economy. 

Thrust #1: Global Digital and Data Node

First Thrust, for Singapore to become a global node for digital and data, SGTech will champion the creation of a Digital Transformation Centre to help companies, especially SMEs, transform; push for standards, policies, and products to be developed for Digital Trust; and ensure greater Cyber Security awareness and adoption.  

Last year, we formed the Digital Trust Committee. We are grateful to Senior Minister of State, Mr Tan Kiat How, for agreeing to be our Patron for the committee. Thank you SMS Tan!  

On Digital Trust, please look out for Digital Trust Forum - the first instalment of the SGTech Global Future Series. For this inaugural edition, we will be joined by international delegates from ASOCIO, an association representing Tech associations and chambers across 24 economies, and the APEC Business Advisory Council across 21 economies, regional and global industry leaders, policymakers and other stakeholders to debate the issues and examine the opportunities around digital trust.

Thanks to the support from EnterpriseSG, the Digital Trust Forum will be held in conjunction with the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH) in late October. Do join us.

Thrust #2: Sustainability

Second Thrust, to lead Singapore’s tech sector to be part of the solution to sustainability in Singapore and the world, SGTech formed our Sustainability Committee in 2021. 

Our sustainability community outreach pilot, eRevival Square, was launched by Senior Minister of State Dr Amy Khor in July last year to raise awareness of repair as a means of reducing e-waste.

We have since constituted the Sustainability Steering Committee to reflect the topic’s cross-cutting relevance across all Chapters and Committees. Dr Amy Khor has also agreed to be the patron of this committee.  Thank you Dr Amy!

Under her leadership and guidance, the group will scope meaningful and strategic initiatives that can be cascaded to other industry sectors and enable businesses to take concrete steps on their green journey, enabled by tech.

Thrust #3: Talent for Tech

Third Thrust, for tech talent, over the years, SGTech has consistently played a role in advocating the industry’s needs to the government and executing relevant government-funded programmes to bridge talent and companies. 

SGTech is honoured to contribute to the Global Ready Talent (GRT) and its predecessor student internship programmes; we also have collaborations with Workforce Singapore to assist career switchers through the Career Conversion Programme (CCP) and a new tech career services programme, including support groups, workshops and speed interviews. 

Across these programmes, we have connected 2,927 students and jobseekers with 656 companies to date.

Launch #1: interactive publication

I want to spend the next few minutes giving a preview of our announcements today.

First of all, later this evening, we are honoured to have DPM Heng unveil, an interactive multimedia publication. 

This publication will be a one-stop repository of all aspects of Singapore’s tech journey. We aim to inform organisations and their leaders on emerging trends and the technologies behind them; We will gather international industry leaders, policymakers and other stakeholders to debate the issues and examine the opportunities around digital trust

Advance discourse on issues and advocate for initiatives to drive industry and economic growth, better society and change lives; and inspire future generations of tech talent. 

Building upon – and going beyond – the foundation first laid in 2017, in our first publication titled, “Intelligent Island: The Untold Story of Singapore's Tech Journey”, will house an ecosystem where there is constant interaction, feedback, and contributions from users. It will be continuously appraised and validated by its community. 

We envisage that will be bookmarked and read daily by everyone who cares about tech in Singapore – industry practitioners, policymakers, and future tech talent.

Launch #2: SGTech Alumni Leaders Network

Among the individuals who care about tech in Singapore, there is a particular group whom we wish to honour.

Through our 40-year journey, we have built upon the achievements and hard knocks made by generations of leaders in the association. 

We are delighted that Senior Minister of State, Mr Zaqy Mohamad, who has been our SGTech Councillor and staunch supporter of our events, will launch the SGTech Alumni Leaders Network later this evening.

We want to recognise the contributions of all the members of the Councils, Chapters and Committees, who have been instrumental in bringing us to where we are.

We want to reconnect with these leaders and invite them – you – to join the SGTech Alumni Leaders Network. Your collective wisdom will strengthen our ability to steer our ship confidently in the voyage ahead.

Launch #3: Techskills Accelerator for ITE and Polytechnic (TIP) Alliance

To add to the push for more tech talent, SGTech is proud to partner with IMDA in the Techskills Accelerator for ITE and Polytechnic Alliance (TIP Alliance in short).

This is to follow through the recommendations from a task force co-chaired by Minister Chan Chun Sing, Minister Gan Gim Yong and Minister Tan See Leng.

Mr Sam Liew, President of the Singapore Computer Society, will be Co-chairing the TIP Alliance with me.  Thank you Sam!

The TIP Alliance will facilitate a smoother entry to tech roles demanded by companies through a complement of internships, apprenticeships, work-study programmes and tests & certifications for graduating ITE and polytechnic students. SGTech will administer the programme, which is expected to train 1,000 students in the industry in the next 3 years. 

I opened by comparing the impact on an egg by force from outside vs inside.

I will close with a remark made by Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO of General Electric, “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, then the end is near.” 

The world around us will continue to be uncertain - the only certainty is uncertainty. But if we rally together as we sail this volatile ocean, with our collective wisdom, we can anticipate and act to keep up with the rate of change in the environment and continue to thrive in the future. When the rate of change inside a system matches the rate of change outside, then the system will continue to thrive.  Exceed it, we Transform.

Once again, thank you for joining us to commemorate SGTech’s 40th anniversary this evening.

Let's co-create a bright future for tech, and for Singapore, in the next 40 years and beyond.

Yesterday is History – Tomorrow is Mystery – but Tonight is a Gift, that’s why its called the Present.

And for tonight, let this party celebrate not just our 40th Birthday, but also a significant milestone of triumph over the pandemic, MASKs-OFF INDOOR!

ENJOY the Present!

Journey with Us

SGTech's vision is to catalyse a thriving ecosystem that powers Singapore as a global tech powerhouse.

Join SGTech, the leading association for Singapore's tech industry representing over 1,000 members. Contact us at [email protected].


Published Sep 2022