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Disrupters to face the disrupted at BT event

Top-level participants will discuss Singapore's response to future economic challenges


IN pulling together not just established names but disrupters, startups and incubators as well, The Business Times Leaders' Forum promises to be a conference apart.

The inaugural event on Tuesday, May 31, will feature three panel discussions, with high-level participants from both the public and private sectors. The theme is Singapore's future economy.

One such panel will deal with the prickly issue of disruption, and will feature both the disrupted and the disruptors. Panellists include Uber Singapore general manager Warren Tseng; Singapore Post's group chief information officer Ramesh Narayanaswamy; and Hugh Mason, co-founder and CEO of incubator JFDI.Asia.

Patrick Lee, Standard Chartered Bank's head of corporate and institutional banking Singapore and international corporates Asean, will moderate the discussion. StanChart is the presenting sponsor of the event.

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The topic is a timely one, given Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's remarks on disruption in his May Day Rally speech. He had called on workers and businesses to get creative in the face of new business models, which are improving consumers' lives even as they upend whole industries.

Said PM Lee: "I don't think we can stop this phenomenon, and I don't think we should try . . . Can we put up a Great Singapore Firewall to block Amazon and Taobao? Can we ban ride-sharing and taxi-booking apps, like some other cities have done?

"We would end up hurting ourselves, because . . . we are all consumers, we are all commuters, we are all using these businesses and services, and they are improving our lives."

To share the government's view on Singapore's challenges and opportunities ahead, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat will deliver the keynote speech.

Mr Heng, who chairs the 30-member Committee on the Future Economy (CFE), will also participate in a discussion panel on Singapore's future ecosystem.

His fellow panellists will be A*Star chairman Lim Chuan Poh, Standard Chartered Bank Singapore CEO Judy Hsu, and Garena founder, chairman, and group CEO Forrest Li. BT's associate editor Vikram Khanna will moderate the discussion.

The third and final panel will turn the spotlight on Singapore's unique advantages, and will feature four speakers: Singapore Economic Development Board managing director Yeoh Keat Chuan; Golden Gate Ventures managing partner Vinnie Lauria; Singapore International Chamber of Commerce CEO Victor Mills; and National Research Foundation CEO Low Teck Seng.

Attendees will hear panellists' thoughts on how Singapore can play to its strengths and come out ahead, even amid an unpredictable and ever- changing environment.

Other key highlights include the presentation of findings from The Business Times-Standard Chartered Leaders' Survey on CEO views on the future economy, and a special lunchtime presentation by acclaimed speaker and business creativity expert Fredrik Härén.

The event is one of several marking BT's 40th anniversary this year. The Business Times Leaders' Forum: Singapore's Future Economy will be held on Tuesday, May 31, at The Ritz-Carlton. About 300 top business leaders and professionals are expected to attend.

For more details and to register, please go to

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