Seen and heard this week


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


Assistant Professor Ng Kok Hoe from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS contributed a TODAY article on 30 May regarding the debate over policies that address inequality and social mobility in Singapore. He opined that robust measures of inequality are needed to understand the situation and clear standards about basic needs are required to assess the quality of policies. One way to achieve a more robust measure of inequality is to improve the way the Gini coefficient is calculated in Singapore. Asst Prof Ng also wrote that a clear standard of basic needs should be aligned with a socially accepted understanding of an adequate standard of living in Singapore and encompass both material and social needs. This standard can help to direct the policies in addressing inequality.

An article published on 31 May in The Straits Times featured a study by researchers from the Tropical Marine Science Institute at NUS and NUS Science that identified a marine organism — the acorn barnacle — that retains tiny pieces of plastic in its body for several days. The scientists discovered that this particular barnacle retained nanoplastic particles — which are less than one micrometre in size — from larvae to adulthood. This could potentially contaminate the aquatic food chains, especially if the plastics absorb hazardous chemicals which could be transferred to the organism when consumed. The research team hopes to use this study as a starting point to understand the pathways of similar plastic particles in the marine ecosystem, including the potential of these plastics to move up the food chain.

In line with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Singapore, Mr Chan Jia Hao, Research Assistant at the Institute of South Asian Studies at NUS, wrote an article in The Business Times on 1 June discussing digital connectivity between India and ASEAN. Both India and ASEAN have expressed an interest in each other’s digital developments and the possibility of exchange, Mr Chan wrote, adding that both regions have also individually moved towards developing Smart Cities. Such collaborations have the potential of facilitating global trade and investment links. However, Mr Chan also pointed out that long-term cooperation will first require both sides to enhance their own infrastructure before embarking on cross-border collaboration.

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