Technology has been a force for good in Asia's growth, but panellists at the Singapore Forum said yesterday that countries can work together to better manage its downsides, such as rising cybercrime and cyber espionage.
Governments can do more to invest in training experts in cyber security, and forge greater collaboration between the public and private sectors, they added.
"Industries are spending billions trying to secure their structures, but failing to stay protected in today's advanced threat landscape," said Mr Ashar Aziz, founder of network security firm FireEye.
"Defensive technology has fallen behind offensive technology, and so have regulatory requirements," he said.
"Whatever conflict we have in the physical space tends to spill over into the digital space," he added, citing the frequency of cyber attacks emanating from geopolitical hot spots like the Middle East.
The issue of stability and security was a key theme underpinning sessions on Asia's future and the role technology plays in reshaping the region.
Singapore Forum advisory board chairman and former deputy prime minister Wong Kan Seng said that regional stability had allowed Asian leaders to focus on economic development in previous decades.
But today, geopolitical uncertainties and technology add to the challenges they face.
At a panel on Asia's future, Thai Energy Minister Narongchai Akrasanee said in response to a question on the political outlook for Thailand - which this month lifted martial law only to introduce even more draconian rules - that his country had been burdened by democracy.
"We have to have what we call a more authority-oriented government, very much like Singapore's," he said.
"Not a military government, not a liberty-oriented government... In the next few years, there will be in place an authority-oriented kind of government that will keep stability in Thailand, so that we can introduce reform."
Responding to a question over how China would reassure others about its perceived aggressiveness, Mr Ji Peiding of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's foreign policy advisory group said: "The future of China is
closely related to the development and the prosperity of our continent." Participants raised concerns about widening inequality within and between countries caused by technology.
Myanmar's Energy Minister Zay Yar Aung said his country was building more vocational schools to help its people keep up.
Added Mr N.R. Narayana Murthy, founder of software giant Infosys: "God has not finished with us as long as we accept globalisation, and education as an instrument for solving problems in the
real world. Then, I believe there will be enough opportunities for reasonable jobs for people in small countries and big countries."
This article was first published on April 12, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.