Hong Kong’s troubles achieve no definitive resolution. No Chinese tanks roll in from Shenzhen, and certainly no concessions will be forthcoming from Beijing. But the windfall that some have predicted for Singapore doesn’t materialise. Rich Chinese will use the perceived opportunity to get the Singapore government to allow them more residential land buying rights, and dangle the carrot of increased investment to try to secure permanent residency. But aside from them parking more funds here, leading to fully sold high end condos that are only one quarter lived in, we will not see an exodus of economic activity from Hong Kong or the Mainland.
Derek Loh (Construction & Engineering)
The ability of governments to implement policy, no matter how rational, is increasingly being held hostage by mob rule, challenging the rule of law and even democracy, as manifest in the continued unrest from Lebanon and Chile to Catalonia and Hong Kong, as well as civil disobedience across Western countries. The mainstream media continues to adopt an indulgent attitude towards these events, helping shape public opinion that protests, no matter how unreasonable or violent, are an acceptable alternative to the ballot box.
Ong Pei Ching (IP & TMT)
The AI art market will become more established.In 2018, the first AI artwork sold at Christie’s, a portrait of a fictional aristocrat, fetched US$432,500 (S$584,000).This year, cold water was poured on the budding AI art market when Sotheby sold its first AI artwork, a digital show of portraits constantly being generated, for a fraction at US$52,634.However, as AI art moves away from copying human artwork (and portraiture), and starts a new art movement, AI art will become more commercially valuable for reasons other than novelty.The tough legal questions as regards intellectual property of such work may then be tested.
Ian Lim (Employment & Labour)
Parliament will consider more comprehensive protection for whistle-blowers in 2020. Singaporeans are already gradually becoming more “woke” about speaking out responsibly to right wrongs, and this development will help Singaporean corporates be better governed and prevent corruption and harassment. Legislation will now need to gather the piecemeal protection presently scattered across various statutes to better protect genuine whistle-blowers from speaking out without fear of reprisal.
Kelvin Koh (Trusts and Land Disputes)
The battlefield for tech supremacy shifts to 5G. Facetime fossilises and 3D live-streaming is the new norm. With improved VR systems, we will see a fading gap between face-to-face meetings and virtual 3D engagements. As lawyers embrace the new legal tech, courtroom dramas start to play out in online court rooms with live 3D visuals of the judge and witnesses. Countries vying to be the top arbitration venue will face challenges from servers competing to host the next online arbitration. Singapore will have to rely more on chilli crabs and bak kut teh to draw disputants to resolve disputes physically here instead of logging on to new online arbitration forums.
Jennifer Chia (Banking & Finance; Corporate Real Estate)
Everyone expects a real estate supply glut, but here’s a far-out (but far more interesting) prediction: the Singapore government, as part of its election campaign, lowers or abolishes ABSD rates and Trump truly bromances Xi after their trade deal, leading to an uptick to the Singapore property market in 2020. Boomtown Charlie!
June Ho (Corporate)
The Council for Board Diversity will gain momentum in connecting stakeholders in order to reach the target for 20 per cent females on all boards in 2020, marking a milestone for female empowerment. More women will be inspired to venture into the boardroom, knowing that they are not just ticking a box. Companies will seek worthy candidates from beyond the usual industries or sectors. Local investors may follow AustraliaSuper’s footsteps, halting investments in companies that lack female board representation. Engagement and support from men lead to increased diversity and inclusion, starting a virtuous cycle, empowering women at all levels at the workplace.
Kishan Pillay (Construction & Engineering)
Looking to the skies, the promise of autonomous passenger-carrying drones will remain a blip on the horizon due to prohibitive implementation costs and unresolved safety concerns.But logistics companies may dabble in the technology. Singles Days will not be the same again, with gifts arriving from drone deliveries from sorting stations.
Chee Chin Wi (Corporate)
In other news, bubble tea gets served on business class.