In his Budget speech on February 19, 2018, Minister Heng Swee Keat announced that from 2019, carbon tax will be introduced to encourage reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In the first instance, from 2019 to 2023, the tax rate will be $5 per tonne of GHG emissions. The carbon tax announced will be levied on facilities producing 25,000 tonnes or more of GHG emissions in a year. All other companies will not be taxed on direct emissions, but may be indirectly impacted by the carbon tax through higher electricity costs. Companies are encouraged to take measures to reduce carbon emissions, and do your part to create a higher-quality living environment for all. From 2019, the Government will set aside funds to enhance support for companies, including SMEs and power generation companies, to improve energy efficiency. More details will be shared by government agencies at a later date. In the meantime, please visit the Energy Efficiency Programme Office (E2PO) microsite at to find out about the existing energy efficiency incentives your company can tap on.


Click the image below for more information.

Steven Okun serves on the Board of Governors of AmCham Singapore. A member of AmCham since 2003, he served as Chairman from 2011-2014.


“It’s not going to happen unless you are extremely lucky – and I would not want to rely upon luck alone.”


That’s my standard answer whenever someone asks how to break into an in-house government relations and public policy role in Asia Pacific. Generally, I’m very supportive when offering career advice, especially to young professionals. But, I also need to be realistic. These intellectually challenging, rewarding, and rare positions are hard to come by.


As the global bull market in politics shows no signs of abating, businesses recognize the need to have public affairs professionals to protect and expand their license to operate by engaging with an ever-growing number of stakeholders. More and more, companies creating or increasing in-house Public Affairs staff.


But this rising demand nowhere near matches the increasing desire for these still very limited positions.


Breaking into the public affairs industry without experience isn’t easy. Frankly, it’s close to impossible. Companies don’t have the resources to bring on a rookie and “coach them up,” especially in this part of the world.


Some companies will hire a mix of internal and external to manage government relations. Others may identify an internal candidate with the raw skills and hire a consultant to guide them. Others bring onboard an external hire who knows GR/PA but have them do an immersion into the company for six months before starting their job.


Bottom line: companies require external hires to have PA experience.


Given my quarter-century in this industry, with more than half of that based in Singapore leading in-house functions, I am often asked for advice on how to break into corporate public affairs.


Most experienced practitioners share my belief – without direct experience with the legislative or regulatory process, one cannot navigate the often-opaque practices one faces in dealing with governments.


In a nutshell, absent a great deal of luck, you’re not going to get hired unless you’ve operated at the frontline.


But how do you go about getting this crucial experience?


Education alone won’t secure the confidence of a would-be employer.  You need to go beyond the classroom.


Government is often the best stepping-stone to an in-house role. However, not everyone can, or should, work in government.


The next most obvious entry point is through a public affairs consultancy. But, as with their in-house counterparts, most of these roles go to those with experience, especially in the more boutique shops in Asia.


To get the needed experience, novices charting a PA career need to think laterally and strategically about roles that expose one to the complex matrix that exists between corporations, governments, stakeholders.


The Stepping Stones

There are many stepping stones into the world of corporate public affairs. These come in different shapes and sizes, some with a salary and some without.


As painful as it is to hear, targeting big name corporates off the bat will be a waste of time. Rather, explore organisations engaged in the public affairs process.


International development organisations such as the World Bank, UNDP, and the ADB play a key role in public policy. These organizations will provide the experience of working with governments, and can in interacting with companies, if you seek it out.


Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) are another option. Often, they are a third party engaged in the dialogue between MNCs and government. Some even have direct partnerships with companies and/or governments.


In Asia Pacific, industry and trade associations – such as Food Industry Asia, CASBAA, CAPEC and the Asian Trade Centre – are a great place to see first-hand how the public and private sectors work together. And, more importantly, how they sometimes can be hamstrung by the lack of consensus among their members. Trade associations provide the opportunity to learn about companies key PA issues. And, they offer you a chance to network with corporates for future roles.


Chambers of commerce and business groups are also big players in the PA and GR process and you should target these, too. Many of today’s top-level industry figures earned their stripes working for organisations such as the US-ASEAN Business Council, AmChams or EuroChams.


I know many who have made the jump from associations and chambers to the in-house world. Over the years, the talented AmCham Singapore staff I have worked with over the years held positions at HP, Honeywell and Philip Morris, just to give a few examples.


Often over-looked is working for embassies. Key positions are often held by “local hires,” and this experience can give one direct engagement representing companies with critical public affairs issues. If you make an effort to reach out to the business community from this platform, you will quickly learn what companies care about.


Listen, Learn and Live “The Four Ps”

Once you’ve found a role within one of these organisations, the secret to success is not to try to move too quickly. Spend time learning, building up your network, and gaining experience. Watch closely how problems are solved and conflicts are avoided. Then, take ownership of an issue and deliver a quantifiable win.


Successful public affairs practitioners must know the four Ps. For any given issue, one needs to know:

Public Interest:  How is if defined by that government?

Policy: What are the arguments as to why an action is in the public interest?

Process:  What is the route to government action?


Politics: Which stakeholders are on any given side of an issue?

Unless you know the mechanics of public affairs and have the experience in leading an effort for a policy or regulatory situation, you will not be trusted by a company to take the lead for them. Too many people looking for those same jobs have that experience and have often made the investment to get it.


Personal Networks

Once you feel ready to target an in-house role, bear in mind that your first lucky break most likely comes via someone you’re already engaged with. So, it’s important that right from the outset you start building your own personal network – the often over-looked Fifth P.

Spend time with in-house PA practitioners, go to networking nights and attend industry conferences and events. Get to know the small group of dedicated recruiters who operate in our industry.


Make sure that the networks you develop aren’t just focussed on prospective employers. The value you offer to as a PA professional lies precisely in having networks beyond the private sector.


Spend time developing relationships with your equivalents in government, NGOs, the media, and regulatory and trade bodies. Get to know the bright young advisors who surround ministers and ambassadors in Asia. As you rise through the ranks, so will they.


While many PA professionals will move from sector-to-sector — in my case from government to aviation and express delivery to private equity — show the capability to become a sector expert in a relatively short period to time. Companies may not be able to train you in public affairs, but they can train you on their business.


If you’re an expatriate you’ll need to understand Asia – and be immersed in the region. Our industry has undergone significant localisation in recent years, and the experience of Capitol Hill or the backrooms of Brussels won’t cut it here (like it did for me).


“It’s not going to happen unless you are extremely lucky is the same answer I give to anyone living in the US asking me how to get a job in Asia without first moving here (that is another column for another day), but if you are already here, you are well positioned to jump to a stepping stone.

Following these guidelines won’t guarantee you a corporate public affairs role. But those who have done it will be able to rely upon more than luck in their job search.


The article is based on: “Steve Okun: Breaking into Public Affairs – Don’t Rely on Luck Alone”, PublicAffairsAsia, January 28, 2018

Steve Vickers and Associates (“SVA”) ( have released an annual 2018 Asia Risk Assessment. The assessment will cover the major challenges facing Asian countries and the likely outcomes in 2018. This is useful reading for all companies who operate in the region or who have business in Asia.


If you would like a complimentary copy, please email SVA at or call (+852) 2528-1270.

Project Orbis International Inc (Singapore) Ltd, the Singapore office of New York-based Orbis International, is celebrating over thirty years of their sightsaving work in Southeast Asia on 8 February 2018.


Orbis International was founded in 1982 with a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and private donors. Orbis’s work in Southeast Asia started in 1982 when their first generation Flying Eye Hospital, generously donated by United Airlines, visited the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.


Orbis is currently flying their third-generation Flying Eye Hospital, donated by global sponsor FedEx. Together with their long-term in-country programs, hospital-based programs and telemedicine platform Cybersight, Orbis trains medical professionals and community workers worldwide to save sight.


Join them on 8 February 2018 at Shangri-la hotel as they celebrate their American heritage and presence in Southeast Asia. Individual seats are at SGD500 each while tables for 10 are at $5,000, $10,000 and $20,000. Please email Elaine at for more information.

Do you ever find yourself just going through the motions, as though on autopilot?

A recent study of 3,000 people found 96% were living on autopilot making, on average, 15 ‘mindless’ decisions every day. Some of these decisions are relatively inconsequential and spare our brain capacity on mundane tasks for bigger decisions. Yet many autopilot decisions exact a steeper toll on professional and personal success, keeping people from taking the very actions that would improve performance, expand influence and enhance sense of fulfillment and wellbeing.


Given our cognitive bias toward familiarity and the ‘path of least resistance,’ it’s vital to.


The heightened levels of uncertainty, anxiety and overwhelm have only amplified the tendency toward living in ‘default’ mode and avoiding the psychological discomfort and uncertainty that comes from making different decisions and taking new actions. It’s why it’s increasingly vital to take regular ‘time out’ to assess whether our decisions are moving us toward (or away from) what we most want and to make better decisions, which are not driven by fear, inertia or bolstering a short term sense of security or status. Doing so also requires cultivating greater mindfulness throughout each day in order to elevate the quality of decisions, challenges the logic of assumptions (or ‘mental maps’) and check in with where fear of what may ‘go wrong’ may be sabotaging our efforts to make things ‘more right.’


Bestselling author, international speaker and executive leadership coach Margie Warrell has focused her work on helping people to do just that. Recently relocated to Singapore as the CEO of Global Courage, Margie will be launching her first Live Brave Day public program here Asia on March 3rd. This full day program is focused on supporting purpose driven professionals who are committed to fulfilling their highest potential. Margie has worked with global leaders and change makers around the globe from Richard Branson to hotelier Bill Marriott and her diverse client list includes NASA, MetLife, United Health and Microsoft.


If you’re at a crossroads or would just value a day out to identify your blind spots and ‘reset your compass’, you’re invited to attend the Live Brave Day program on Saturday March 3rd. You’ll leave with a practical game plan for 2018 and supportive community of like-minded individuals to help you step into purposeful action toward your biggest goals. Enter AmCham at check out for 20% off.  Details at

Over 200 students and coaches from nine different international schools in Asia took part in the South East Asia Student Activities Conference (SEASAC) Soccer Tournament at Stamford American International School in Singapore. Held from November 3 to 5 2017, at Stamford American’s Woodleigh campus, the three-day tournament saw both boys and girls compete in this prestigious annual event.


Established in 1995, SEASAC is an association of international schools in and around South East Asia. It exists to support International schools in South East Asia in achieving their educational goals. Through a range of sporting and artistic activities, SEASAC aims to promote closer links among teachers, administrators and students of its member schools; encourage opportunities for good quality competition and the pursuit of excellence; develop and extend social and cultural interaction; and to promote an appreciation of the rights, dignity and worth of every person.


It hosts 24 regional member competitions annually, in events such as cross country, volleyball, basketball, arts, Model United Nations, gymnastics and swimming. Being a SEASAC member school is an honor and provides real opportunities for students to be part of healthy inter-school competitions. 


For full press release click here.




SINGAPORE, October 29, 2017 – United Airlines (UAL) today inaugurated its nonstop Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner service from Singapore (SIN) to its hub at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). United is the only airline operating a direct flight between Singapore and Los Angeles.  To celebrate, passengers of the inaugural flight were greeted by iconic Hollywood celebrity impersonators and invited to participate in a cake-cutting ceremony. The celebration was attended by guests including Mr. Lee Seow Hiang, the CEO of Changi Airport Group, and Ms. Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath, the Chargé d’affaires, a.i., at the U.S. Embassy in Singapore. Marcel Fuchs, United’s Vice President of Atlantic and Pacific Sales, said: “United is proud to launch the long-awaited Singapore-Los Angeles route for our customers in Singapore. The addition of this new exclusive service to our existing Singapore-San Francisco nonstop service gives more options for our customers to conveniently connect to our extensive U.S. network over both gateways.”



Flight UA 38 will depart Singapore’s Changi Airport at 11:00 a.m. daily, arriving at Los Angeles International Airport at 11:15 a.m. the same day. The return flight, UA 37, will depart Los Angeles at 9:25 p.m. daily, arriving in Singapore at 6:20 a.m. two days later (all times local). Flying time will be approximately 15 hours, 15 minutes eastbound, and 17 hours, 55 minutes westbound. Customers flying United’s service between Singapore and Los Angeles will be able to save up to nearly two hours journey time each way, compared with the current United schedule via San Francisco.


See full press release here.


LogRhythm, The Security Intelligence Company, introduced CloudAI, a technology designed to help LogRhythm customers across the globe avoid damaging cyber incidents such as high-profile data breaches. CloudAI is an advanced cloud-based security analytics offering that is available as a fully integrated, add-on subscription service for the LogRhythm Threat Lifecycle Management Platform. CloudAI uses artificial intelligence to detect advanced threats that employ unknown attacks and unknown methods and provide security teams immediate visibility into emerging and active user-based threats.



Learn how to detect and respond to cyber threats using the Threat Lifecycle Management Framework.  Click here for more information.


Stamford American International School is thrilled to host the Singapore All-Star Latin Band on a musical odyssey as they take us through a faithful recreation of Gloria Estefan & The Miami Sound Machine’s greatest hits! 



Sat, 18 November 2017, 7pm at Stamford American International School

Tickets are $50 each. Seating will be on a first come first served basis.

You can go to  to book your tickets. 


In Art Exhibition 2017

Ten very talented student artists of Stamford American International School will be showcasing their work at the popular annual InExhibition 2017.


Together with students from 14 different schools in Singapore and southern Malaysia, this exhibition celebrates the collaboration of great works by young artists and will be held from 15 November 2017 to 15 January 2018 at the Australian High Commission Singapore. 


For more details, please see the full press release click here 








When a small Internet company came on the scene nearly 20 years ago and said it wanted to disrupt the payments industry, few paid it any attention.


That tiny outfit has since grown into a giant. PayPal is now one of the largest payment companies in the world, dominating the online payment space, with offices across the world including in Singapore.


But the original disruptor is not immune to disruption. In fact, the company is facing a “boiling ocean of disruption,” said PayPal’s Vice President Ben Edwards.


The company is facing co-opetition and competition from both the big guns, such as fellow technology companies Apple, Samsung and Alibaba, as well as the smaller start-ups which are experimenting with new modes of payment like blockchain. To meet these challenges, PayPal has been intensifying its innovation efforts, especially in this part of Asia.


Part of its strategy has been to acquire new capabilities and knowledge through mergers and acquisitions. More importantly, the company is focused on building innovation from within.


In 2016, the company launched the Innovation Lab in Singapore, its first outside the United States and a key part of the company pushing the boundaries of innovation.


To read more about the Innovation Lab in Singapore and full article click here.



This blog showcases news and updates from AmCham’s member companies

Send Updates