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PM: Singapore can do more as a Smart Nation

THE war against diabetes and making Singapore a Smart Nation are the other two longer term issues that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong brought up during his National Day Rally on Sunday night.

PM Lee said a Smart Nation is about Singapore taking full advantage of information technology (IT).

"Using IT comprehensively to create new jobs, new business opportunities, make our economy more productive, make our lives more convenient and make this an outstanding city in which to live, work and play," he said.

He said while Singapore has the right ingredients, it lags behind other cities in areas such as electronic payments.

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Citing China as an example, PM Lee said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say found out "a couple of years ago" that even roadside hawkers are paid using QR code WeChat Pay or AliPay.

He said Singapore must simplify and integrate its many different e-payment schemes and systems and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has integrated them.

"We now have one single unified terminal that can read different cards. MAS and our banks have also rolled out a new service called PayNow," he said, adding that PayNow links the mobile numbers to banks accounts.

He pointed out that IT can help in public safety and security.

He said since the Little India riot in December 2013, where authorities "were caught a little flat-footed", Singapore has made progress in building an integrated national sensor network and installing more CCTV cameras in public places.

"We are learning to analyse this combined data, using artificial intelligence to automatically flag when something unusual is happening," he said.

On diabetes, PM lee said it is, in fact, very serious in Singapore, with one in nine Singaporeans suffering from the disease - "almost world champions, just behind the US".

"The challenge with diabetes is the early stages, it is an invisible disease," PM Lee said.

He offered four suggestions: get medical check-ups, exercise more, eat less and healthily, and cut down on soft drinks.