Singapore woos fledgling Web-site entrepreneurs

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 June, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 June, 1999, 12:00am

The Singapore Government is staking a claim to the seemingly lucrative Web content business.

The country's National Computer Board (NCB) recently launched a Web portal and network to help fledgling Web sites in Asia.

FastAsia is an NCB-backed portal with Asian content and community features targeted especially at Asian-Americans.

It also acts as a gateway to Community Connection, a network of virtual sites that provide free interactive on-line services to Internet entrepreneurs.

Community Connection will host Web sites free - including those from Hong Kong - and give them access to its 70,000 registered users. Web surfers who log-on at can access the 14 sites hosted by Community Connection. They include one SAR Web site - Jobs DB, a recruitment site. Other Hong Kong Web sites are invited to join.

Ho Weng Kit, head of business development at NCB's Online Technologies Consortium, said Community Connection was provided free to attract more companies on the platform.

Community Connection hoped to win one million users within a year, he said, through a combination of features such as the ability to let Web surfers create their own virtual communities or clubs, with chat rooms or message boards.

For would-be Web retailers on Community Connections, one of the NCB's partners, Net Perceptions, is a Nasdaq-listed company that provides an e-commerce service called Simon Sez.

Mr Ho said Community Connection was a free 'marketing platform to help Internet entrepreneurs gain access to more users than they can on their own'.

He said the NCB was aiming encourage Net entrepreneurship in Asia and there was no business model in place for it to make money.

While the site runs banner ads, Mr Ho said no money was made there because it was an exchange with portal sites such as CNet.

FastAsia, meanwhile, has little content at the moment. It consists mainly of links to Singapore Government sites, and news provided by Singapore English-language daily newspapers - The Business Times and The Straits Times.