Seen and heard this week


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


NUS Law Associate Professor Simon Tay and Senior Policy Research Analyst (Sustainability) at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs Ms Lau Xin Yi discussed the need for ASEAN countries to build green, smart and sustainable infrastructure in a commentary published in The Straits Times on 19 September. They shared that future infrastructure not only has to bring about environmental benefits but must be financially viable in the long run, and that digital technology will become increasingly important in infrastructure building. Given that Singapore is an established financial and trading hub in the region, the duo believe that the country is able to contribute to infrastructure development in the region by offering more sustainable financing and sustainable infrastructure solutions.

In a GovInsider commentary published on 20 September, Associate Professor James Crabtree at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS penned his thoughts on the risk of state capacity decline in Asia. He shared that while many Asian nations have developed high levels of state capacity over half a century, maintaining and growing state capacity can be challenging as developed nations face a range of problems from combating diabetes to developing businesses with frontier technologies. Singapore was highlighted as an example of a country which has achieved a high capacity government, and one which persistently improves its government. To avoid state capacity degradation, he said that Asia needs to learn from the best around the region and come up with a radical new political agenda to develop state capacity.

Also on 20 September, The Straits Times reported on a novel hydrogel developed by a research team led by NUS Pharmacy Associate Professors Ho Han Kiat and Giorgia Pastorin. Assoc Prof Ho said that the team discovered the stiffness and roughness which stem cells needed in the development of a healthy liver, and customised a hydrogel to achieve this consistency. By mimicking the surface of a human liver, stem cells are tricked into believing that they are touching liver cells and replicate into liver-like cells. The study also found that liver-like cells grown using this method resemble actual liver cells more closely than conventional methods, hence reducing the risk of rejections if used in the human body.

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