SINGAPORE (Sept 30): “No doubt, I will receive some harsh criticism. But I also hope to receive constructive suggestions to help this government meet the public’s expectations for a more inclusive and fairer Hong Kong.” — Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
Singapore tops AI Disruption Index
Singapore has clinched the top spot among 104 cities in terms of its preparedness to deal with digital disruption, according to the Global Cities AI Disruption Index published by the Oliver Wyman Forum on Sept 26.
Singapore showed the most readiness overall, with an average score of 75.8 across all four categories identified as critical for success in meeting the increased speed and scope of technology disruption caused by artificial intelligence.
Other top 10 cities on the Readiness Index include London, San Francisco, Paris, Amsterdam and Sydney.
The four categories are vision, activation, asset base and trajectory. They measure the quality of a city’s plan; its ability to carry out forward-looking plans; the quality of its talent, education and infrastructure; and whether it is becoming better aligned with what it needs to succeed in the future.
Singapore’s chart-topping score was well above the average overall score of 52.4 and median overall score of 54.8.
A deeper dive into the four assessment vectors shows that Singapore owes its pole position to just one factor: its strong and compelling vision for the future.
According to Timocine Pervane, a partner at Oliver Wyman and co-leader of the Oliver Wyman Forum’s City Readiness initiative, this indicates that stakeholders in Singapore recognise the potential opportunities and risks, and have a clear and compelling vision for the future.
In contrast, the city state fared modestly in its execution ability, asset base and development scores. It ranked 10th in terms of asset base, 23rd in development and trajectory, and 25th in activation. — By Uma Devi
Grab unaware of breaching Malaysian competition law
Grab Holdings said it had in March 2018 acquired rival Uber Technologies’ Southeast Asian operations in good faith, believing the purchase would create more efficiencies and benefits for the public in the electronic-based ride-hailing (e-hailing) sector.
A Grab spokesperson said in a statement on Sept 26 that, so far, the company has fully cooperated with the Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC) in the regulator’s request for information. The e-hailing company said it was unaware of any breach of Malaysian competition laws since the acquisition.
“Grab plays a complementary role in the entire public transportation ecosystem in Malaysia, most often serving the first-mile-last-mile needs of commuters to and from public transit.
“Today, commuters in Malaysia continue to have the choice of getting from one point to another through public transport, street-hail taxis or more than 30 other licensed e-hailing apps.”
Grab’s statement is in response to a Bloomberg report that Malaysia is advancing an anti-monopoly investigation into the Singapore-based company, to bring greater competition to the Malaysian economy. — By Chong Jin Hun
Fresh protests hit Indonesia as minister sees political motive
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has agreed to meet with representatives of the student protests on Sept 27. Since Sept 23, thousands of students have taken to the streets in Jakarta, Surabaya and Southeast Sulawesi, demanding legislators drop proposed changes to the criminal code that seek to outlaw sex outside of marriage, infringe on gay rights and curb freedom of expression. Protestors are also calling for the annulment of a law that has weakened the nation’s anti-graft agency.
Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto said the protests were hijacked by groups seeking to create chaos and instability in the country through “planned, systematic and unconstitutional” attacks. He said at a press conference that the protests were aimed at disrupting the inauguration of the new government, scheduled for October.
“We have enough evidence that [the groups that have taken over the protests] want to occupy the House and the People’s Consultative Assembly, so that they cannot carry out their duties, meaning that they want to prevent the inauguration of House members. Furthermore, they also want to prevent the President from being inaugurated.”
Thomas Cook’s creditors face haircuts and lengthy wait
Thomas Cook’s compulsory liquidation has put it under the control of a government-appointed receiver and consultants AlixPartners and KPMG. They are responsible for selling the travel operator’s assets to return as much cash as possible to creditors.
An analysis by AlixPartners in August estimated, however, that bondholders could get as little as 2% of their money, while lenders could get a recovery rate of almost 17%.
On Sept 24, S&P Global Ratings put the recovery value as high as 10% on the group’s unsecured bonds but warned that investors could also get nothing. Creditors will be competing with other claims on funds, including aircraft financing contracts and pension obligations. They also face a long wait to find out how much money they will recover if other recent UK liquidations are anything to go by. In the case of construction company Carillion, which collapsed in January 2018, creditors are still waiting for their first payouts from the liquidation, nearly two years on.
“Disentangling complex businesses like Carillion and Thomas Cook takes time,” says Julie Palmer, managing partner at restructuring specialist Begbies Traynor. “It will be a slow operation that will require years.”
Democrats begin impeachment inquiry on Trump
US Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the US House of Representatives would begin a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, over allegations that he sought the help of a foreign country to harm a political rival.
“The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the constitution,” Pelosi said on Sept 24. “The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.” In a typical response, on his favourite platform, Twitter, Trump accused his political rivals of “presidential harassment”.
“Such an important day at the United Nations, so much work and so much success, and the Democrats purposely had to ruin and demean it with more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage,” Trump added, as he attended the UN General Assembly in New York. “So bad for our Country!”