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 Robert Beckman, Head of the Ocean Law and Policy Programme at the NUS Centre for International Law wrote in a commentary for The Straits Times on 31 October that ASEAN should conduct more maritime drills with both China and the US. He praised the first ASEAN-China joint maritime drill which took place recently off the southern city of Zhanjiang, China during a time of heightened tension in the South China Sea. Although some political observers are likely to view this drill as an effort by the Chinese to undermine the US’ regional strategic partnerships, Assoc Prof Beckman feels that this would be an overreaction. He expects a similar exercise to be held between ASEAN and the US in the near future. Maritime exercises are regarded as very effective confidence-building measures, and allow the respective parties to learn how to work together in pursuit of a common goal, he added.

In a commentary for Tabla! on 2 November, Associate Professor Hari Krishna Garg from NUS Electrical and Computer Engineering wrote about the importance of value in the marketplace and how products with perceived superior value fare better than products with lower perceived value, even if the product is in fact inferior. He highlighted that value is transitional, and what may have seemed essential — for example, books and videos obtained from book shops and video rental outlets respectively — are now declining in importance with the advent of content that is delivered to consumers at home over the internet. He advised everyone to remain agile and have a good sense of the markets so that we can provide value where it is needed, as “we have as much a chance to create the next best thing as our neighbours in Silicon Valley”.

NUS Business Professor Wong Poh Kam, who addressed a panel at the seventh edition of the Asian Entrepreneurship Award, a start-up pitch competition held in Japan, was featured in The Straits Times on 3 November. Prof Wong, Senior Director of NUS Entrepreneurship Centre said that Singapore needed to invest in higher-risk sectors with a longer gestation period, to allow the start-up scene to mature and for critical expertise to be developed. He pointed out that there have been unintended consequences of Singapore’s proactive efforts to grow its start-up ecosystem, such as spoiling the market with an abundance of start-ups that may not deserve funding, resulting in less investment for higher-return commercialisation of deep technology. Prof Wong also bemoaned the lack of investors with deep domain knowledge in areas such as biomedical drug development. Singapore could consider building on its strengths, such as in cybersecurity and maritime-related technology, and seek to become a world leader in these areas, he said.

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