Singapore reacts to increased market convergence; will restructure IDA, MDA in H2 2016

18 Jan 2016

Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information, Yaacob Ibrahim, has announced plans to restructure the telecoms regulator Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and the Media Development Authority (MDA) into two new entities: the Infocommunications Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the Government Technology Organisation (GTO). In a statement, the minister confirmed that the move will be implemented from the second half of 2016 to take into account the convergence of the city-state’s media and ICT landscape. Channel NewsAsia notes that the announcement follows the publication of the government’s integrated Infocomm Media 2025 master plan in August 2015, and aims to ‘better capitalise the ongoing convergence in areas such as pay-TV and telecommunications’. It also takes into account the evolving responsibilities IDA has taken on in recent times, such as cybersecurity and the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA).

The move to a new integrated regulatory framework will begin from 1 April this year. Under the reorganisation, IDA managing director Jacqueline Poh will switch roles to head up the GTO, while current MDA CEO Gabriel Lim will assume responsibility for the new IMDA. The official switch to the new regime will not, however, take place until the second half of 2016 the minister said, with the new IMDA tasked with implementing the government’s latest ten-year roadmap on the development and regulation of Singapore’s converging infocommunications and media sectors. The new regulator reportedly has a mandate ‘to deepen regulatory capabilities, safeguard the interests of consumers and foster pro-enterprise regulations,’ according to the minister. Legislative amendments to facilitate the reorganisation will be proposed in parliament in 2H16 to recognise both agencies’ regulatory oversight and, during the formative stage, there will not be too many changes to current regulatory frameworks, Dr Yaacob said. The new GTO, meanwhile, will be responsible for leading the city-state’s digital transformation in the public sector, such as in the areas of robotics, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT) and big data. The GTO will also play a key central role in supporting the country’s Smart Nation push, particularly in delivering the Smart Nation Platform and its accompanying applications. It is understood that there will be no overlap between the two new bodies and related agencies such as the Smart Nation Programme Office (SNPO) and the Cyber Security Agency (CSA).