Seen and heard this week


Seen and heard this week is a weekly column highlighting thought leadership from the NUS community


In a commentary piece in The Straits Times on 3 April, Ambassador-At-Large with Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Rector of Tembusu College Professor Tommy Koh analysed the value ASEAN and Australia hold for each other, their convergent and divergent interests as well as the future of the relationship. Benefits the two regions offer each other include economic and political benefits such as free trade, sharing of education and training resources and peace in Southeast Asia, Prof Koh wrote. However, he added that there are some areas where interests diverge, such as in their relationships with the US and cultural differences. Despite this, Prof Koh believes that there are more convergent than divergent interests and the relationship should continue to flourish.

NUS History Associate Professor Peter Borschberg spoke about how Raffles did not ‘discover’ Singapore in an opinion piece for The Straits Times on 5 April. Citing recent research, he shared that Singapore has been appreciated as a strategic location for most of recorded history, adding that the name Singapura and many variants have featured regularly in written and cartographical materials long before the 1800s. Historical records have also shown that Singapore had been singled out for fortification and colonisation plans before Raffles set foot on the island. Hence, Assoc Prof Borschberg contends that the story of Raffles’ discovery of Singapore should be seen more as the most recent in a series of visions for Singapore.

Professor Seeram Ramakrishna, Director of the Center for Nanofibers and Nanotechnology at NUS contributed an article to Tabla! on 6 April speaking of the way the human mind has become the mainstream interest of professions like scientists, healthcare professionals and engineers. Prof Ramakrishna shared examples of research in progress that take inspiration from the way the brain works. This included tapping brainwaves to digitally reconstruct the object perceived by the brain, and using non-invasive brain simulation to treat health issues like depression and anxiety. Technologies in fields like computer science and engineering are being advanced through emulating the brain and mind, opined Prof Ramakrishna, adding that he expects the mind to continue to inspire innovations.

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